Friday, January 31

The Feast and Famine Dilemma

Okay, so it's not truly a dilemma like Kennedy's Cuban Missile Crisis or whether it's appropriate to wear my white jeans after Labor Day, but being a freelance editor does often present difficult choices and it's Editor Nan who's blogging today... well, mostly. It seems as if work comes in groups. Sometimes I spend a couple of weeks with no work at all and only a project or two way out on the horizon. When that happens, I start to panic and so I send out little reminders to my clients that I'm still around and available. It's not a begging for work thing, just a gentle reminder that I'm here if they need an editor.

My clients are terrific—I'm crazy about all of them and mostly, it seems to be mutual because when I send out my notes, I always get a response and at least one or two of them usually has a project to give me. The dilemma part comes in when I accept a gig from one client and then another offers one and then another. It's great to be loved and needed, but sadly I have to tell one of them I can't do their job. Turning them down makes me feel like an idiot because I'm the one who sent them notes telling them I'm ready to work. Sheesh! I may need to rethink my marketing strategy.

I'm not the only one with this issue—seems like this happens to all my freelancing buddies about this time of year. We're all looking around for work, hoping things will pick up, and stressing over how bills will get paid if income drops. But, somehow, although we grouse and stew, work comes along, and then we're all grousing and stewing because we're covered up and can't take a breath.

What I need to learn is how to use the work down time constructively, like, say...writing? Rather than fuss and worry, I should be writing on the book that’s on a tight deadline, not griping on the phone to friend Charlie about work being slow, not checking out Facebook or Twitter, and not playing Words with Friends on my iPad. I whine when I don’t have time to write because I have too much work and I whine when I don’t have work, instead of being joyful that I have plenty of time to write. Am I the only one who does this?

So, writers with day jobs—talk to me about how you make time to work and write, and do you have times when you are just unmotivated to write, even though you have time to do it? What is it about deadlines that make the words sometimes get stuck in the pipeline?


  1. I think "feast or famine" is a life cycle, not just you! Good luck on gathering things into a workable circle.

  2. I struggled with this when I took a part time job a year or so ago. And I still struggle. Some days, I can go to the dayjob and come home and write 2000 words. Some days, I just can't. On those days I try to give myself grace..and get back at it the next day. Hang in there, Nan, you'll find a rhythm!

  3. Feast or famine is a definite thing. I also struggle with trying to balance writing/part-time day job/marketing/life and finding motivation for all of the above. Sometimes the balance tips in one direction and the rest of my priorities are thrown out of whack. One thing that's been helping me to work more steadily on my writing since the new year is to tell myself I only have to write 100 words. I can usually make myself write at least that much even on days I don't really want to sit down at my computer at all. We'll see how long I can keep it up!