How to Overcome the Biggest Obstacle to Your Success as a Freelance Writer

Most freelance writers spend a large portion of their day working at home. Occasionally you may find yourself venturing out to the coffee shop, library, bookstore, or other such quiet location with your laptop, but for the most part the convenience and solitude of working at home preferable to the distractions of working outside the home. However, unless you live in a very rural area in a house all by yourself, you likely experience plenty of distractions at home, too.

Most freelance writers learn very quickly that they need to limit their own distracting habits, such as constantly checking email or visiting social networking websites, if they want to make a decent amount of money at this job. However, friends, neighbors, and family pose distractions, too, and these are harder to control. If you find your work hours each day extending far beyond what is necessary due to constant interruptions at home, here are some things you can do to limit your distractions.

Set Up Work Hours. If you don’t have a set work schedule, you need to establish one. If your friends and family know that you start working every day at 9am, they will know that they need to approach you for discussions and so forth before this. It’s harder for many freelance writers to set an ending time for their workday, as many freelance writers will work shorter or longer hours depending on which projects they are working on. Keep in mind that if you don’t know your work schedule from day to day, it’s not reasonable to expect others to know it, too. So it may be a good idea to have a set break time where friends and family know you aren’t working. If you still have work to complete after your break, at least your break has given your friends and family time to communicate with you about things that are important to them.

Be Firm About Your Work Time. Working at home with kids can be a major distraction, but spouses and even friendly neighbors can really eat up your work time. You are the one who controls your work day, and the distractions will only bother you if you are not firm about enforcing your work schedule. When you work with kids at home, this can be a different situation, as kids often have needs that are dependent onĀ  you to fulfill. So satisfy their needs, and then occupy them with other activities to keep them busy while you work. For spouses, friends, and neighbors, simply turn off your cell phone, hole yourself up behind a closed door, and keep to yourself until your work is complete. This may seem rude, and honestly your friends and family may take it as you being rude at first. However, when you enforce this with them, they will learn that you are serious about not wanting to be bothered during your work time.

Make Use of Your Downtime. Freelance writers often have a difficult time juggling work and personal activities. When you work at home, it’s so easy to sit down at the computer every free moment you have and start working again. You need to be your own enforcer of your downtime, so if you have planned to take a two hour break, by all means give your fingers a break from typing. Use this time to spend with your friends and family who have been wanting to talk to you for the last few hours while you’ve been working. If you work at home with kids, use this time to take the kids to the park or outside to play so they can burn off some energy and everyone can enjoy a change of scenery.

There’s a fine line between work and play, and this line often gets fuzzy for freelance writers as well as with their friends and family. But keep in mind that you are responsible for controlling and enforcing your work time as well as your downtime. So find that balance you are seeking between working and downtime, and then take steps to enforce that balance.


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