Maximizing my happiness and enjoyment of life is my top priority, and that includes my freelance writing.
Like me, you probably spend a lot of time writing. Life is short — make sure you get the most joy out of your writing time by following these 8 tips.
1. Write About What Interests You
Specialize in a freelance writing niche you love and you’ll find you look forward to your work. You’ll also likely find greater success: you’ll be more enthusiastic when pitching projects to editors or clients, and you’ll get a lot more done in a given time period.
Two of my great interests in life are hiking and learning. I started my career by writing hiking guidebooks about northern California and newspaper and magazine articles about hiking and travel in California and the western United States. Soon afterward I established my main niche as a writer of college textbook supplements; it allows me to continue to learn about a wide variety of subjects in the social, life, and earth sciences. Since I’m really interested in understanding more about the world, I truly enjoy my work.
2. Move From One Writing Project to Another
If you’re like me, you have multiple projects going at one time. You must pay attention to deadlines and make sure you meet or beat them, but within the structure of your project completion dates, you usually have some flexibility. If I find myself growing weary of one project, I switch to another on a different topic, or to one requiring different skills. This brings back my enthusiasm and my ability to get high-quality writing done quickly.
3. Learn to Type Fast
When the words flow from your brain and onto the screen quickly and efficiently, you can focus specifically on what you are writing and not the physical process of writing itself. In other words, you won’t be multitasking — dividing your attention between two different activities and doing neither one at an optimal level.
If you want to type really fast, you need to learn how to touch-type. Touch-typing allows you to use all 10 digits on the keys rather than the 2 or 3 that hunt-and-peckers use.
But there are more benefits to touch-typing than getting the words on the screen more rapidly. Touch-typing allows you to type a quote by looking directly at a printed page while you type. Touch-typing also lets you close your eyes and write at the same time, or look out the window at the sky.
You can find computer programs that will teach you how to touch-type, or you can take a course. It’s obviously a major initial investment of time (and a bit of money), but it will pay off many-fold over the long run.
I’m very grateful I decided to take a one-semester typing course in high school. I still have to look for the numbers, but I can rip along at a very respectable pace — around 60-70 words a minute, with occasional higher gusts.
4. Learn to Write Well
Knowing the components of good writing will increase your confidence in the quality of your work and will also allow you to write faster, and you’ll spend less time editing. If you aren’t comfortable with the rules of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and style, you may stop frequently and question whether a sentence is constructed properly, or whether or not you used a semicolon correctly.
5. Budget Your Time Well
Writing when you feel you don’t have enough time to do a good job, or when you’re exhausted from staying up too late to meet a deadline, is a sure way to decrease the joy of writing.
6. Think About Why You Write
What goals do you achieve through writing? Why are these goals important to you? How do you feel when you achieve those goals? Make sure you have clear answers to these questions.
7. Vary Your Writing Location
You can do this in many ways. I frequently write on my laptop on the back deck of my house in rural northern California. I also like to write in coffee shops and libraries. In summer I go camping with my laptop (and DC-AC inverter that allows me to recharge the laptop battery using my car battery). And I also get to write in the beautiful homes where I house-sit.
8. Practice Present-Moment Awareness
Frequently associated with Buddhism, Taoism, and other religious traditions, present-moment awareness means staying focused on what you are doing this moment. Don’t think about anything that happened in the past. Don’t think about what you’ll be doing in the future. Just relax and give your single-minded attention to your writing.
How much do you enjoy writing? How do you apply the techniques I present here? What would you add to the list?