18 September 2008

Autumn Rising

Those of you who know me are familiar with my special personal connection Autumn. This year it has a special importance. I woke up to a brisk, clear-skied Manchester and I knew that the season had turned. It was chilly, but the sunshine made everything look so clean, pristine and inviting. But I still didn't want to get out of bed, do my exercise or face the reality that our ten-day 'staycation' was over. I liked sleeping in, I liked our crazy excursions, I liked cooking decadent dinners for no good reason at all. But all things must come to an end and I need to get back onto the path of the lone writer.

Without actually having done any writing or seeing any invoices paid (no matter how piddly the sum may have been), I was beginning to feel like a failure...and...gulp...that I would need to take a part-time job. The fact is I want to supplement our income significantly and it doesn't mean slinging coffee or pushing moisturizers on people. I forgot all my other talents and how wonderfully suited they are to the freelance lifestyle. How silly of me.

On Monday, I went my favorite yarn shop for a knitting circle in the company of my writing comrade. We had coffee beforehand and took 90 hours to dish about what was happening in our professional lives. Although we are writing in two very different genres, it is refreshing and encouraging to exchange with someone who knows exactly what you are talking about. At the end of one season and the beginning of another, I attracted someone who has exactly the skills and know-how to be my accountability and encouragement partner in my small circle of aquaintances here in Manchester. It is now a season of glorious, golden, leaf-changing and life-changing accountability and abundance.

As anything in life can be, freelance writing can be a lonely and frustrating game if you are not prepared to stay in perpetual motion. Unfortunately, through the last month or so, I have let my writing stagnate in that I have actually been writing very little with the exception of an odd blog post here and there. On the other hand, I have been incubating, researching and developing some really great ideas. I saw my first big online article go live and the next day, my freshly printed business cards arrived. I started to get the message that I am a 'real' writer.

September 15th marked an accountability milestone for me: I examined and rewrote my initial business plan I had laid out six months ago when I was still new to the game. I realized that most of the goals I had set for myself were not as 'SMART' (ie Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound) as they could have been. Within hours of doing that, I came across an intersting article called The Three Keys by freelance writer and coach Anne Wayman of The Golden Pencil blog. I will definitely be reading that and drafting the business plan one more time.

My goals are more concrete now and I have thereby renewed my confidence. From today, I will be sending at least five applications and queries out each day to internet gigs and magazine editors. I will be advertising through new channels to get teaching, translating and editing work on the side. Having a monthly income target (which for some reason I didn't have before) and devoting a minimum of ten hours a week to developing my book proposal will bear fruits in the form of a steady stream of income and an agent by New Year. All in all, even though I was looking down, things really have been looking up.

Images courtesy of The Philter and Muse of the Moment

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