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pitch a good idea

The Pitch

During my screenwriting workshop days, we spent a lot of time writing down a one-sentence story pitch on the board. Our mentor, Nestor U. Torre, would comment if the pitch will sustain a full-length film story or not. It took us some time to get things right. Because if we couldn’t make a good pitch, there’s no screenplay to start with.

What is a Pitch?

In creative writing, a pitch (a.k.a. as logline or hook) is usually 25 words long that captures the essence of the novel, film, or any story. It’s the heart of the story. It is the writer’s description that will sell the idea before writing it down and getting paid.

It’s also known as the “elevator pitch”. Why? Imagine if you’re inside the elevator with a well-known movie producer or publisher. It would take you only a few minutes to tell him what your story is all about before the door opens for him to leave. That’s why a pitch should be short, simple, and concise.

Why Pitch?

The need to whittle down a story to one sentence gives a writer the head start to work on summaries in the future. It is what you build around when creating longer pitches and developing the plot. Think of it as a skeleton or framework from which the structure is based upon.

A pitch is used when interacting with agents, entering contests, meeting with producers, or anyone with whom you want to engage. If they ask you, “What’s your story all about?”, you answer them with your pitch. Its main purpose is to get someone interested in your story.

The late Filipino film director Ishmael Bernal emphasized the need for a good one-sentence summary. He said if you can’t tell your story in one good sentence, then it’s not a good film story.

How to Write the Pitch

Usually, a pitch is 25 words long. What are the things you need to put in a pitch? Here are the main elements:

  • One or two characters (most of the time, the protagonist and the antagonist). But if the main characters are in a group (like a group of teenagers), you may do so.
  • Their goal, conflict, or the choice they made
  • What is at stake? (this may be stated or implied)
  • What are the obstacles in reaching their goal? Or what they should do to reach the goal.
  • Setting (if it is important)

The pitch may be written in different ways and here are three examples:

  1. When CONFLICT happens to CHARACTER(s), they have to overcome OBSTACLE to reach the GOAL.
  2. CHARACTER(s) need to overcome OBSTACLE/reach GOAL before WHAT’S AT STAKE happens only to be prevented by CONFLICT.
  3. CHARACTERS were a STATUS but CHANGE(d), only to meet again in CONFLICT.

Make sure that you’re describing an event and not the story’s theme. This is not the time to be vague or too general. You need not be too specific as well; no need to name the characters.

The pitch should just be enough for the audience to see the beginning, the middle, and the possible end. Also, your pitch should be able to make a lasting impression so that you stand out from the crowd and have a better chance of being given the assignment or project.

Conclusion

Creating a pitch takes time and effort. It’s hard to boil down your story to a one sentence summary. It may take you several attempts, so don’t beat yourself up if you find it difficult at first. Sooner or later, you’ll know or feel that you have stumbled upon a perfect pitch. Start giving it a try and you’ll understand your story better.

Let me know if you think that I have missed anything, I’d appreciate your feedback. And if you like to read more about creative writing, please do subscribe to my quarterly newsletter and join the tribe.

Abante Komiks Si Aling Mameng

Si Aling Mameng

My Introduction to Abante Komiks

It was sometime November 2002 that I got in touch with a former acquaintance who introduced me to Willy Fatal, the Editor-in-Chief of Abante Komiks that time. I told Willy that I haven’t written a manuscript for a graphic novel or comics before but I know how.

So Willy said that he would give me a try and asked me to submit a manuscript as soon as possible. My first assignment was any mystery/suspense/thriller story which they usually publish every Thursday. I agreed because it was my favorite genre and I already had an idea brewing in my head at that time. I went home and laid out my story, figured out how to spread the story in frames on 32 pages.

The Concept

My idea came from a blurb of a new novel from an unknown author which I’ve read in a magazine. It was about the most hated neighbor in the whole neighborhood who died and no one came to his funeral. But when the police suspected a foul play, everybody in the neighborhood became suspects. That idea was so strong that I had to make my own version of it. So I wrote the manuscript in less than a week, I guess, and submitted the typewritten manuscript to Willy. My first comics. Yes, it was 2002 and I don’t have a computer yet at that time.

Meeting Louie Celerio

Willy was impressed that he gave me the freedom to write stories of any genre. So I started writing Two Weeks After, a romantic story, after that. When I submitted the manuscript of Two Weeks After, I saw Willy proofreading a copy of Si Aling Mameng. He even introduced me to Louie Celerio, son of National Artist Levi Celerio, and the illustrator of my story. I was thrilled to see the proofreader’s copy of my story and meet the illustrator at the same time. I was really honored. And my comics writing career began.

Traditional Pinoy Komiks Fading

Three stories after, and staying in Moncada, Tarlac, I stopped writing comics and focused on my tabloid column with Diyaryong Imbestigador. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to claim my complementary copies of the other stories I’ve written for Abante Komiks.

At that time, the Filipino komiks industry was in its last days, trying to survive in a world dominated by new and popular entertainment formats: the Internet, video games, cheap pocketbooks, funny text messages, DVDs, and of course, television.  At least, I was able to write stories in comics format and was able to contribute something in the industry’s last days.

Although the komiks that we’re used to is gone, the comics industry continues in a new form. These days, independent graphic artists produce comics that are edgy and adventurous. You’ll see them once or twice a year at Comic Conventions (Comicon) .

 

Statement of Work

Statement of Work

One of the frustrations of a freelance writer is not being paid for the work he/she had done. The freelance writer would charge it to experience. However, it keeps on happening, especially if the client sounds too good to be true.

So to avoid this kind of scenario, it is better to set up a written Statement of Work (SOW) which, for me, also serves as my proposal. And once the client signed it, it becomes a contract.

I have on my file a template which I can freely edit depending on the client’s job request. So each of my clients receives a different scope, thus, a different rate.

Let me show you how I write my own SOW.

STATEMENT OF WORK

Others call this a Contract. Others call this an Independent Contractor Agreement.

The reason why I chose to call this Statement of Work (SOW) rather than anything else is its purpose. This serves as my free quote or job proposal first. And if the client signs it, this becomes our contract.

THE PARTIES INVOLVED

At the beginning of the contract, I always state who I am dealing with.

This [type of contract] is by and between me, [your name] of [your website] and the client, [client’s full name] of [client’s company].

I prefer to deal with one person, even if the clients are in pairs. This way, I avoid any miscommunication or misunderstanding during the course of the project. However, if they are a pair, like a husband and wife team, I state both full names in the contract.

If the person has two companies, I prefer to set up a separate contract for each company. Why? Let me tell you a story:

I had this client who reached out to me to write for his website. The topic is within my expertise, thus I wrote blogs on his behalf comfortably well. However, when he announced that he would set up another website and asked me to write for him again, I thought twice. The topic is not within my expertise but I could write about it if I’ll research it well. That would mean more time for research and writing. Thus, I gave the client another set of rates, different from the first assignment. At least, I would not feel I’m at a disadvantage if I write for both websites at the same time.

Most clients would take advantage of this situation. Since they already know how much I charge, they would find a way to use my talent to do something much bigger than the first assignment.

Clients would think that the same rate applies across the board. It may apply to other freelancers like illustrators who could charge per piece, but not for freelance writers.

SCOPE OF WORK

This part of the contract defines the type of project, its scope and limitations. It is better for me to define everything, even the slightest detail.

SCOPE OF WORK: This is a [type of] project for the client which includes:
• [describe the nature,
• scope of the project, and
• limitations of the project]

An example of what I presented to a client recently looks like this:

SCOPE OF WORK: This is a SEO and Social Media Management project for the client, which includes:  
-- administering the WordPress site,
-- article/blog writing  
-- social media posts on 1 Facebook page and 1 Twitter account only (additional social media platforms will have additional charges) 
-- responding to comments for audience engagement (but not including critical or sensitive customer service or technical support issues which I may not be able to handle due to my limited knowledge of and exposure to the company/organization)
-- content curation and 
-- other activities related to Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Management.

Although the above example does not show much details, the important thing is I laid out the general scope and limitations of the work first. Particular details may be discussed and laid out later during the negotiation phase and/or final drafting of the contract.

RELATED ARTICLE: 7 Ways to Turn Your Writing Into Cash

DELIVERY DATE AND DELIVERABLE

This part defines the desired outcomes based on the previous scope of work. I usually state what I would produce (e.g. 2 articles in .docx format), when or how frequent are they delivered to the client (e.g. weekly), and how should they be delivered (e.g. via Google Drive).

Here is what I have on my template:

DELIVERY DATES: I shall complete the Services and/or Work by or in accordance with the delivery schedule below:
Deliverable/s: [number of] hours per week (a total of [number of] hours per month) of writing in [type of] format.
or [number of] words of [type of] writing in [type of] format within [period of time] upon my acknowledgement receipt of written instructions via email.
Submission: Submission of deliverable will be via email or Google Drive or whichever the client prefers.

REVISIONS

Some freelance writers miss this part because they might not have given a thought about it. There are clients who keep on returning the work for revisions many times that the writer’s pay itself is no longer worth it.

As much as possible, I make sure that the work is perfect that it needs no revisions at all. However, there are times that clients point out an issue or two for the writer to revise. Once is acceptable. But more than twice require additional charge.

Here is how I stated it on my Statement of Work template:

REVISION: Edits will be avoided at all costs and are not anticipated except in extreme circumstances. An article may be returned to me only once for revision at the sole discretion of the client. Revision will be done within 24 to 48 hours upon return. Succeeding revisions, if any, will be charged as per the writing rates stated below.

PAYMENT

I guess this is the part why freelancers need to set up contracts with their client in the first place. Getting paid for writing may be fun, but getting paid right is another issue.

This part of the contract should define how much you will charge for what type of project. Specify also how you should be paid (e.g. via PayPal or bank deposit), how much is the deposit, and when and how the balance should be paid.

RELATED ARTICLE: How Much Will You Charge?

SAMPLE WRITING AND KILL FEE

Here’s the sad and frustrating part. Many clients require sample writing from writer applicants. A few of them would pay for the sample writing, but most of them don’t. If they belong to the latter, I refer them to my website, blog, or portfolio so they could check it out. If they insist, I won’t bother. Most likely they will pay me lower than my worth.

To avoid this problem, I offer a paid writing sample or paid trial. I charge this the way I charge per article. The Statement of Work specifies that if the client likes the sample, the project will push through. If not, the payment for the writing sample serves as the kill fee.

But the kill fee also serves as a good protection for freelancers who are in the middle of a project. If the client suddenly decides to terminate the project, and the freelance writer is not yet paid for the current task, it would make sense that the payment for the current task would serve as the kill fee. However, this should be stated in the Statement of Work, too. Better specify in the contract how would you like the sample writing and kill fee be paid for your protection.

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RIGHTS, DISCLOSURES, AND NON-COMPETE

We are now reaching the end of the contract. However, there are other issues that need to be discussed.

I usually ghost-write for clients. Thus the issue of copyright should be laid out in the contract. More often than not, I would declare that the copyright belongs to the client on a ghostwritten project. Otherwise, I would declare the full copyright of the article and have my by-line attached to it.

Another issue is the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) between the client and me. This is especially applicable in ghostwriting projects where we both agree not to publicly (or even privately) tell anyone that I write for the client’s behalf. This is stated in the contract as well.

Since freelance writers get many jobs from different clients, it is common that a writer gets two clients having the same industry or niche. To prevent conflict arising from this situation, I declare and include a non-compete clause in the Statement of Work.

This is how I wrote mine:

RIGHTS, DISCLOSURES, NON-COMPETE: I hold no copyright to the materials created. I agree to non-disclosure of rates, processes, and client lists. I agree to refrain from competing with [client or company name] for the same client during the course of this contract.

EXECUTION AND EFFECTIVITY

This is the last part of the contract. It specifies how will I deliver the Statement of Work to the client, and in what format. It also specifies what will happen if there are changes in the terms and conditions during the course of the project.

Also, I specify the date of effectivity of the contract and when should the project start. If the client can define the date of when the project will end, the contract contains that detail as well. However, most of my freelance writing contracts are open-ended.

At the bottom of the contract are two signatures: one for me, and one for the client.

I usually write the terms and conditions on MS Word or Google Docs. Then save it as PDF before sending it to the client. I don’t need to have this notarized because most of the clients don’t want to be hassled, too.

Let me know if you think that I have missed anything, I’d appreciate your feedback. And if you like to read more about freelance writing and productivity, please do subscribe to my quarterly newsletter and join the tribe.

How Much Will You Charge?

The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.Robert Benchley

The quote above came from American comedian and writer Robert Benchley. Every freelance writer, or other freelancers even, can relate to it. How much should a freelance writer charge is one of the frequent questions asked among writers. Just recently, two readers have consulted me about this.

A freelance writer can charge whatever he or she wants as long as it makes sense for him or her, for the client, and for the market. As long as the freelance writer feels that it’s fair, there is nothing to worry about.

There are people who charge way too much and get those high rates because they’ve built their reputation and their business up and have earned it. I know someone who can demand a million pesos for a book project because she has great writing credentials under her belt.

On the other end of the scale are the other writers who charge way below what they should, unknowingly or deliberately, thus affecting other freelance writers and the market in general.

So how much is fair?

In the course of my freelance writing career, I’ve tried weighing four ways on how to charge a writing project: per word, per page, per project or per piece, and per hour. There are pros and cons for each but let me give you an idea how it works for me.

Per Word

When I got hold of my first copy of Writer’s Digest back in the mid-80’s, I read from the ads that contributing writers would get between $0.05 USD to $0.25 USD per word. At that time, the exchange rate was Php 35.00 = $1.00 USD. I was in high school then and all I could say was, “Wow!”

When I joined the Freelance Writers Guild of the Philippines (FWGP) in 2012, we had agreed that no Filipino writer should charge below Php 2.00 per word. And yet, some writers accept projects that pay way below that rate.

In fact, I’ve encountered a writing platform that pays writers $6.00 per 500 words. Although there are many writing tasks to grab daily, and an average writer can write up to 3 articles per day, it may look like the rate is fair if converted into Philippine peso. But think again, given the task requirements [like sticking to the SEO keywords and the exact 500 words] plus the time spent on research, writing and polishing the draft, the $6.00 per 500 words is way below the Php 2.00 per word FWGP standard.

When charging a writing project per word, better ask the client for the required word count. Most of my clients for web content require me to write articles 1,200 to 1,500 words long. Only a few would require me to write up to 3,000 words. Since the word count varies, it is easier to set the price per 100 or 500 words. This is much easier and acceptable to both client and me.

According to an article in Entrepreneur magazine dated October 2013, writers may charge from $2.00 USD per 100 words for academic writing, $3.00 USD per 100 words for special reports, $5.00 USD per 250-399 words, and $10.00 USD for 400-500 words for article and content writing. That was almost seven years ago. The rates have changed now.

However, if the client specified a project long enough that charging per word maybe too much, I go for the second option: per page.

Related Article: Statement of Work

Per Page

Two years ago, I finished an e-book project that paid me by the page. I’ve checked around and saw that prices per page vary from one writer to another. One source said, it’s $15.00 USD per page. That is around Php 780.00 if converted. The client may say it’s over his or her budget, so be ready with a counter-proposal to meet halfway.

Editing and proofreading services are better charged by the page, whether fiction or non-fiction writing.

However, because of images, charts, diagrams, etc., the text would have to move along adding more pages which could be both an advantage or disadvantage. The more pages I have, the more money I’ll get. However, the not so good thing about it is when I compute for the per word rate, chances are it would go way below than my usual per word rate. Realizing that would make me think twice, my next option is to charge it per project.

Per Project

This is something easy for the client because it’s a flat fee regardless of the project’s length. Also, I have an advantage to figure out how much I would like to get paid without the limitations of word or page count. I just have to factor in the hours and resources spent, in a way that it makes sense to both parties, and still have enough gain at the end.

Project that requires interviews, library research, and other non-writing tasks, etc. are best charged on a per project basis. I think as if I’m going to be paid a salary per month or per week, depending on the project’s time frame. Also,  I ask the client how much is his or her budget and I base my quote from it.

The disadvantage of this method is if the project becomes more in-depth than I anticipated and I end up on the losing end. Most freelance writers suffer this kind of trauma — working on a project, being told to revise this and that, hoping to get paid but ends up not being paid due to some unfortunate circumstances, and if ever paid the amount is lower than all the effort.

One way to prevent this is to ask for a down payment to finance the project, and ask for the balance once the project is done. This is stated in my Statement of Work (SOW) along with the project’s details.

If ever the client decides not to continue the project, I usually state in my SOW that the down payment will serve as the “kill fee”. This way, I’m paid for the services rendered during the first days of the project.

If I can’t figure how much the whole project would cost me, then I try charging it per hour instead.

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Per Hour

This method is tricky at the same time fair. I’ve scouted around and saw varied rates from $5.00 USD to $40.00 USD. (And I also found a few who charge much higher.) If you try to convert that into Philippine pesos you’ll exclaim, “Wow!”.

I use a timer and an invoicing tool so I could easily charge the client and show him or her how my time was spent in the project. That includes research, Skype calls, writing, and editing. I just have to be conscious of my time and motion and be honest in charging.

I bid for $11.00 USD per hour for two separate writing projects. The British client said, “I guess you’ll just be writing for thirty minutes per item, how’s that?” The Australian client said, “The US dollar rate is too much. How about if it’s in Australian dollars?” In short, I sealed both deals on 2015.

The advantage of being a Filipino is having this kind of opportunity to work with foreign clients and still get comfortable with the rates even if it’s below expectation. Both $5.50 USD and $11.00 AUD were fine with me because I was comfortable with that. Believe me, it was much more than the starting rate I had in freelance writing back in 2012.

I have set a lowest rate where I could still be comfortable and resolve that I should not go lower than that. Also, I factored in other fees like the kill fee, time for research, meetings, and revisions. I check with the client what the project entails then decide which method to use.

To help me decide, I weigh in the pros and cons of each rate in relation to that project. I start proposing for the hourly rate, then go for the per project rate. For small projects, it’s simpler that I start proposing for a per project (or per piece) or per page rate. Then I sent my Statement of Work (SOW) which could also be my contract with the client once it’s signed. The rate will now be sealed.

Among the four methods, I prefer charging by the hour. However, different clients prefer different methods. So this is a tough balancing act and yet I like the variety.

How you’re going to charge the client depends on you. As long as it’s fair for both parties, as long as you’re comfortable with the cost, then it’s fine to charge per hour, per project, per page, or per word. But please, freelance writers, not perhaps.

a writer experiencing writer's block

6 Things I Do To Shake Writer's Block Off

Four weeks into 2020, and I’m experiencing writer’s block. My daily writing tracker looks like a chessboard, some squares shaded and some are not.

Last week, I’ve watched a video on YouTube about the two-day rule. It says that when it comes to tracking habits, don’t let yourself take two days off in a row, but you can take two days off in a week. Since then, I followed this rule to force myself to do the things I should do.

However, a few weeks right after the holidays, I felt a burnout. The assignment that I worked on seemed too daunting. It felt like I have to work twice as hard to get things done even though I have SMART goals to motivate me. I felt stagnant and my creative well empty. Yet, I am aware that I need to shake this feeling or writer’s block off.

Here are some of the ways I battle with this stagnancy and keep things exciting and going.

1 – I feed my mind.

I’ve been freelance writing for years now and there are times when I felt that I don’t have anything new to write or a new way to write old content. So I have to feed my mind with useful content to be inspired.

However, lately I’ve been feeding my mind with audio-visual content than text. So this year, I resolved to read more and be inspired by other writers’ writings. And in order for me to reach that goal, I make sure that I spend at least 15 minutes reading a book aside from reading the Bible every morning.

2 – I change my surroundings more often.

I love my work at home life and staying on my desk. However, working at home for a long time can start to feel like I’m stuck and can sometimes creep into my own writing. My writing began to look formulaic or made out of a template. So I try to change the arrangement of my desk every once in a while.

At times, I change my clothes to simulate that I’m going to work in a distant office. And if people here at home asks if I’m going somewhere, I just smile and keep it to myself. But when really stuck, I really go somewhere else — either to a mall, grocery store, bookstore, or fastfood restaurant — and stay there for a while. Then I’ll return with my mind refreshed.

3 – I literally leave things behind.

It is not a good practice to force myself to write even though I knew that my creative well has run dry. Even with a deadline approaching, I’ve learned to leave my writing unattended for a period of time and do something else other than writing.

It seems that I’m slacking off but I’m not. This is the same as number 2. I’m filling my creative well with new ideas as I seek for inspiration.

4 – I take a shower.

Some experts say that taking a shower can induce creativity. Aside from increasing the blood flow in the brain, taking a shower could help me access my brain’s alpha waves.

5 – I do crafts.

For me, coloring books, drawing, cross stitching, crocheting, and the like, feed my inner child. This inner child becomes my source of creativity. Doing these crafts on weekends replenishes my creative well.

6 – I join other writers.

William Turner wrote birds of a kind and color flock and fly together. Fellow writers know how tricky freelance writing and novel writing could be. By joining writers’ groups like Freelance Writers’ Guild of the Philippines, I could get a little empathy and encouragement to feel better.

So here are a few of the things I do to shake off writer’s block. If you do have other ideas, do share it with me by sending me an email. Also, I’m inviting you to join the tribe.

theme

Theme: Does a Story Have to Have a Moral?

Most of us have read Aesop’s fables in our childhood. The four Gospels have their own share of parables. These are just examples of stories that teach a moral lesson about what’s right and wrong.

And it’s effective to the readers because the stories will remind them of those lessons.

While fables and parables are rich with these moral lessons, other forms of fiction convey these in different ways.

Generally, fiction writing don’t rely on moral lessons. Instead, they inject these lessons as a commentary or insights about human experience through the characters and plots. And they are not just lessons, it is more of underlying meanings.

Because most fiction have more characters and subplots, it is common that there are more than one theme running. This makes for a more complex and engaging read.

In fact, readers need not state the story’s theme explicitly. For them, the theme will enrich the reading experience and encourage them to think about the human experience in different and specific ways.

As authors, we don’t need to state the theme overtly. This will make the story too preachy. But if the theme is not strong enough, the story will feel pointless.

Most of the time, authors don’t think of the theme as they set out to write. They focus more on the individual characters and actions and then the theme emerges from those.

For both authors and readers, the story’s meaning doesn’t always come out clearly on the first try. In order for us to identify the theme, it is better to ask ourselves these questions:

  • What is the story all about?
  • Why does it matter?
  • What and why is it important about telling it now?

The theme is best implied, running as an undercurrent beneath the characters and actions. It should come through the action and dialogue rather than forcing or telling the reader what to think.

How the Internet Made My Freelance Writing Career

Internet is Life

A few days ago, my husband, who is working at night, told me that we didn’t have an Internet connection. So he had to buy prepaid load at eleven o’clock in the evening to load up our pocket wi-fi so he could get back to work. Fortunately, the next day, our Internet connection became stable.

You see, we are a household that uses Internet a lot. It’s part of our lifeblood; we couldn’t live without it because it’s part of our livelihood. My husband and I work at home for many years now that we invested not only on computers but also a stable Internet connection.

Life Without Internet

But before I go on, let me tell you something about how was life without the Internet.

I was born in a generation between the old-school and the technological advancements. Thus, I have experienced both worlds and could live, thrive, and survive without the other.

I was in second year high school (today’s grade 8) when I learned how to type. My father taught me the finger placement on the typewriter. Then, slowly I learned how to type without looking at my fingers and started to type fast.

Two years after, I had computer as my elective subject in fourth year high school (today’s grade 10). For the first time, I learned BASIC computer language. BASIC stands for Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. Back then, a black and white TV can be used as a computer monitor, and a floppy disk measuring 5.25” could contain 360KB of data.

We don’t have a desktop computer at home then. So I still rely on a typewriter for school projects.

Eight years later, during my second college course, we were taught WordStar, Lotus 123, Print Shop, and dBase IV. Floppy disks then were the 5.25” and 3.5” which can store 1.44MB of data. CPUs then do have two floppy disk drives for each type.

Two years later, I was introduced to Windows Office ‘95. It was the first time I saw GUI icons to click that would do away with memorizing keystrokes for commands.

Then the late ‘90s came. For the first time, I was able to use a dial-up Internet connection and had my first email address. At this point, I’m already proficient in MS Word and Excel, plus Adobe Pagemaker.

But I still don’t have a computer at home.

Yes, even though I have an email address and has access to the Internet, I still rely on my typewriter for writing. And if ever it needed to be a computerized copy, I would go to the Internet cafe, rent a computer by the hour, save it on a 3.5” floppy disk, and have it printed on a dot matrix, ink jet, or laser printer all for a fee.

It was only in 2003 when we have a desktop computer at home. The most reliable operating systems then were Windows ‘98 and Windows 2000. Typing became much easier because the keyboard was soft to the touch, there’s no need to move the typewriter carriage to the left as I reach the end of the line, and there’s no more need to feed paper.

Oh, those were the days, my friend.

How the Internet Made My Freelance Writing Career

As time goes by, the Internet has evolved and new technologies have sprung. Today’s Internet is far different from the Internet in the late ‘90s. It’s difficult to identify an aspect of our lives that hasn’t been touched by the Internet. It has become so innovative and so in demand that it has transformed the whole world. So much so that the changes brought by the Internet has caused us to reinvent the way we work.

Recently, three of my blog posts that dealt with working from home were noticed by readers like Nick Porter of BroadbandSearch.net. The blog post he shared inspired me to write this one.

It’s obvious that the Internet has made a huge impact on human civilization. Let me enumerate how it affected my career:

Working From Home

my remote work officeI’ve mentioned in previous blogs that I’ve worked for almost seven years in a large US-based BPO company. It was there that I’ve experienced working in an almost digital environment.

When I decided to work at home, I applied what I’ve learned which made my transition from corporate to home set-up easy.

Back in 2012, freelancing and independent contract work were starting to gain popularity. With websites like Upwork (formerly oDesk and Elance combined), OnlineJobs PH, PeoplePerHour, etc., freelancing has become more acceptable as the years go by. The Internet made me find full-time jobs as a freelancer.

With the heavy traffic and long commute that stress people everyday, we expect more people to shift from office work to work at home setup and/or freelancing soon.

Independence

What I liked about working from home is the freedom from the stress and pressure of an office environment. I got more sense of autonomy as I worked my way through my freelance writing business.

On the other hand, I still need to discipline myself to become more focused and efficient in order for me to succeed.

Working Hours

Freelance writing has made me free to choose the hours I want to work so much so that I’m no longer working 40 to 48 hours a week. But there are times that I am working almost 24/7 because of the passion.

There were clients that still follow the traditional 9 to 5 schedule that I was forced to follow their time zone. But there are newer clients that embrace the concept of flexibility regardless of their location or time zone.

Communication & Transparency

One of the things I’ve learned from working in the BPO industry is transparency. And to achieve this, communication is the key.

The Internet has made communication easier and has expanded the media. Aside from email and websites, we now have SMS, chat, VOIP, streaming media, cloud storage, and the like. This has made the world smaller in terms of reaching people around the globe.

Collaborative Work

Start.me appWorking with clients located abroad would be challenging if there’s no Internet. Today, the Internet provides productivity tools that we can use to collaborate, allowing multiple people to work on a document at the same time.

e-Learning

The Internet has made it easier for me to enroll in courses I’m interested in. This can help me take my career to the next level as I thrive in the freelance community.

Security

However, the Internet also has its own downside. While I work from home using it, I’m also aware of its dangers. In fact, working dependently on the Internet has a bigger risk now that there is so much going on online. Hackers and scammers can pose as prospective clients. That’s why I have to be my own first line of defense against cybercrime. I also need to have a working knowledge on how to detect threats and what to do if this happens.

Now that I’m already settled working from the comfort of my home, Internet connection (and electricity that runs it) have become my necessities. It is difficult for me to live without it because my livelihood depends on it.

How about you? Are you also dependent on the Internet?

RELATED ARTICLE: 9 Ways the Internet Has Changed the Workplace

Apps I Use in Freelance Writing (And They’re Free)

Introduction

I’ve been freelancing for years and aside from my laptop, I need apps and tools that will not only make my work more efficient but also will allow me to get the job done and deliver. There are thousands of work management apps available online. But which of these apps are really for freelance writers?

If you have been freelancing or working online for some time now, you might be familiar with some of these apps. But if you’re just starting, consider this as an apps guide for an organized, productive, and efficient work from home life.

My Hardware

my remote work officeWhen I started freelancing in 2012, I used to have a desktop computer sitting beside a 3-in-1 printer on a desk. I had to invest on these pieces of hardware plus a stable Internet connection to start working at home.

As time goes by, mobility became a necessity. Thus, in 2015, I shifted from a desktop computer to a laptop. Until now, I still use a laptop 100% of the time.

Although I have an Android phone, I only use it for texting, calling, social media browsing, a few games, and my Kindle app. I never send emails or write notes using my smartphone.

And yes, add a headset with microphone for making calls. Having been in the BPO industry has made it not just a computer accessory, but a necessity.

My Apps

Most of the apps I’ll mention here are freemium, meaning you have the option to upgrade them from the free plan in order to use the full range of features. As much as possible, I always use the free or personal plan because I’m all alone in my freelance writing business anyway.

LibreOffice

Most of my apps are web-based now that I’m using Linux Lubuntu as my laptop’s operating system. I have LibreOffice installed as part of the installation package. It’s just like having an MS Office but free and open-source software (FOSS). What’s good about LibreOffice is I can save documents in .docx, .xls, and .pptx by default so that it would be compatible with the others who use the MS Office suite.

Google Chrome

Of course, to access the Internet, I need to use a net browser. Firefox is the default browser for Linux, but there is Google Chrome for Linux which my husband installed for me and which I use most of the time.

I prefer Chrome because I usually login on several sites using my Google account. However, there are a few sites that don’t run properly on Chrome (which used to run very well when I was still using Windows) but will run better on Firefox.

Start.me

If Chrome is my default browser, Start.me is my default home page. It is basically a bookmark management site where I classify often-used websites and apps into groups, icons, and links.

Back in the day, I used to have MyYahoo and iGoogle as my Start.me appstart pages until Yahoo! and Google took them down respectively to protect their search engine business. Come to think of it, it makes sense for them to do away with bookmarking because it will make us type on their search bar more instead.

But I prefer having a customized start page and I’m subscribed to Start.me’s free plan. Upgrade starts at $20.00 a year for professional use and the rate increases for team and enterprise use. A Start.me page can be customized by using different background themes and widgets. Once I open my Chrome browser, I have in front of me all the often-used links plus the weather and quote of the day.

Goodsearch

Goodsearch appI’ve learned of this app in 2012 when I first joined NaNoWriMo. Ever since I’ve used of Goodsearch, I rarely use Google as a search engine. Goodsearch allows me to search for information and at the same time, for every unique search I typed in, they will give a penny ($0.01 USD) to my chosen charity (which is NaNoWriMo). Goodsearch is powered by Yahoo! It also has Goodshop and used to have Goodgames (I miss this!).

GMX Mail

Isn’t it nice to have all your email accounts in one place? That’s why I have GMX Mail. Its email collection feature is so awesome that I can read all my emails from different accounts. I can manage my contacts and calendar, too. It also has an online office tools like Google Drive but I don’t use it.

Google Drive

Speaking of Google Drive, I use this to create, organize, and share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online and on cloud. Sending a file to my clients is easy just by sharing it with a link, no need to attach it on email. But there are times when I need to upload a document from my hard drive and share them on cloud. Uploading and downloading files on Google Drive is easy.

OfficeMA

OfficeMA appI’ve been using OfficeMA since 2013. This is my freelance business management tool and has a timer. This is also a freemium and I’m using the free plan because, as I’ve said earlier, I’m alone in my business.

This app allows me to handle multiple clients with different rates. Thus, when I start the timer, it can automatically compute for my work charged by the hour even though I have other clients whom I charged a fixed rate.

The paid plan (Professional) costs £1.20 GBP per person per month and lets you issue invoices. But I don’t need that feature because I have my own PayPal account.

I have used different timer/monitoring tools, too, like Time Doctor, Worksnaps, HubStaff, ActivTrak etc. because some clients do require me to install a monitoring tool. Whenever they don’t, I use my OfficeMA and send them a report once a task, assignment, or project is done.

PayPal

Ever since I started working from home in 2012, I use PayPal as my payment management tool. Setting up an account was easy back then, I didn’t have any problems with linking it to my bank account. Most of my clients pay me via PayPal in their own currencies. I can also issue invoices using the app when I need to. But most of the time, my clients don’t need invoices.

Skype

Calling long distance is costly. But thanks to the marvels of the Internet, we now have Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). One of the early apps on communication is Skype. When I was using Windows, I used the desktop version. Now, I’m using the web-based Skype. This version is convenient for me. Aside from making a call, I can do a video call, chat, and even share files.

I also use Messenger on my phone and seldom on my computer. There are clients who prefer Messenger than Skype. I am also familiar with other chat tools like MS Communicator, HipChat, Viber, Slack, Webex, Zoom, etc.

Trello

Trello appTrello is my project management/collaboration/organization tool. It applies the Kanban method by using boards, lists, and cards. It is also a freemium app and I’ve been using it since 2015. Upgrade starts at $9.99 USD per user per month.

I have used Basecamp, Highrise, Taiga, Slack, Asana, etc. because my clients use one or two of these. But I still prefer using Trello.

Evernote

Remember those Trapper Keeper binders during the ’90s? Those big binders can hold more than one notebook. Evernote is literally my online notebook binder. It allows me to create notebooks and organize my notes. It is also a freemium app and upgrade starts at Php 130.00 a month. I used to have the app on my cell phone but I found the size too large for my phone’s memory so I use the web version since then.

However, not all my notes are on cloud. I still have my Bullet Journal with me for planning and taking down notes.

Canva

Canva appI started using Canva in 2015 for my graphic design needs. I am not an illustrator so I use this app to create images for my website and social media accounts. It is also a freemium and upgrade starts at $9.95 a month when billed annually.

DupliChecker

This is a web-based plagiarism tool that I’ve been using since 2012. After writing, I copy and paste the document (up to 1,000 words only per check) on the site and it will detect plagiarism for free.

WordPress

I use WordPress for Content Management System. Aside from this website, I still maintain other blogs using the WordPress platform. Years ago, I had a love-hate relationship with it.

RELATED ARTICLE: 100 Best Apps for Online Job Freelancers

Other Apps

There are apps that I’ll also mention here because they’re worth using especially when working from home. These are the apps which I use only when needed.

HootSuite

HootSuite is a social media management tool which I started using in 2013. This is also a freemium app. The free version used to allow me five different social media profiles but now, it was reduced to three. Back then, I could schedule many posts across all five social media platform, but now the free version only allows 30 scheduled posts. That’s one of the reasons why I seldom use this app nowadays.

MailChimp

Mailchimp is an easy-to-use marketing tool which can organize my mailing list, subscribers, newsletters, and marketing campaigns. The free version allows me to have a limited number of subscribers, but once I exceed, I have to pay a monthly fee. Therefore the pay increases as my mailing list grows. However, I seldom open my account due to my busy schedule.

Free Press Release

I used to have an account with Free Press Release for creating and distributing press releases. However, I’ve checked the URL and it’s no longer available. Instead, I found PRFree, another free press release distribution site. It has been years since I’ve written a press release so I was unaware of this change. This is also a freemium PR distribution service and upgrade starts at $19.00 USD per PR.

Hemingway Editor

For writers like me, the Hemingway Editor helps makes my writing readable and lean. Inspired by Hemingway’s “rule” in writing (less adverbs, the better), this app will show which sentences are too long or wordy with its color-coded highlighting.

GoPlay

GoPlay is a video editor that runs on Windows. I used to have this on my laptop to create YouTube videos. However, since I shifted to Linux, I don’t have a video editor yet.

There you have it, the apps I use in freelance writing.

I would like to thank Katrina McKinnon for reaching out to me and inspired me to write this article. You may visit her website, Small Revolution, an online learning platform for people who want to work from home.

 

Where Do Ideas Come From?

One of the overused questions asked of writers is where do their ideas come from. It may be too trivial, too basic, but too important not to be ignored.

Writers, like other artists, maximize the use of their five senses and translate them into their art. Writers, like other artists, are keen observers. So keen that they know what color is on top of the traffic light, how many tines are there in a fork, or what is inscribed at the bottom of a paper bill — simple, everyday objects that seem too obvious for ordinary people to take notice of. Aside from the use of the senses, here are other sources of ideas:

Newspapers

The old-fashioned broadsheet or tabloid is still a good source of story ideas. Scan the news and even the other parts of the newspaper like the classified ads, you’ll get an idea or two to jump start a story or an article. An article about a female college student/prostitute who killed her “sugar daddy” gave me an idea of a scene I wrote a few months back.

Magazines

The glossy magazines feature different kinds of stories, so varied that some of these magazines became specialized or focused into a particular niche. Scan the stories, even the fillers, you’ll get some catchy phrases and intriguing ideas to add into your writing. For example, an article I read about freelance writing inspired me to write my opinion on it. Also, catchy phrases become titles of a future article or novel.

Books

Reading not only hones your vocabulary skills, but also inspire you to write your next story. Reading a not-so-familiar book many years ago triggered me to write my novel, Number One Fan.

Biographies

Lives of other people show us how was it living in their own time. We get to see not just a character but also a lifestyle different from ours. Somehow their lives inspire us to write a story for others to learn from.

Stories and legends

There are some stories that keep on burning because they don’t die and people remember or mention them repeatedly. Folklore, fables, and even urban legends could be an inspiration of your next novel.

Dreams

Believe it or not, dreams could also be a good source of story ideas. My husband’s dream became my inspiration of a comics manuscript I’m planning to write.

Songs

I used to write down nice phrases that came from songs. The lyrics of Randy Crawford’s “People Alone” inspired me to write I’m Greg, Short For Gregarious.

Ask “What if?”

 Asking this question somehow challenges you to provide possible answers and in the process creates a possible story.

 Overheard remarks

Eavesdropping for the sake of getting ideas? Why not? I write these overheard remarks and make them patterns for dialogues.

Once I got an idea, I put them down on writing. As a writer, I should not rely on memory because there are times memories fail. A writer is a journalist and therefore should have a handy notebook and pen to jot down these ideas that burst abruptly.

Now, it is your turn. Go get yourself a notebook for the sole purpose of jotting down ideas. The size and thickness should suit your need and desire. I suggest that you put tabs to separate different sources or categories. Make it a habit to write it down and don’t let it escape your memory. Happy idea hunting!

6 Pros and Cons of Being a Writer

You might be asking what are the pros and cons of being a writer. Well, I could think of six answers. However, each answer has a good side as well as its downside.

1. Low overhead cost

Pro: Nowadays, you need a working computer and a reliable Internet connection to work as a writer. But long ago, William Shakespeare just used a quill and paper. That’s how low-cost writing as an occupation could be.

Con: A fabulous equipment like a computer, a printer, and a router may give you a little bit of a head start but it will not guarantee success in your writing business.

2. Anybody can write

Pro: Anybody can write, or could set himself up as a writer, no matter what your education or professional background is. Just look how many bloggers out there and check out their background. Some of them didn’t even finish college but can write well.

Con: Too many competition. You may have the award, the recognition from peers, etc. but the person beside you might also be another writer who is much better than you (and you don’t even know).

Anyone who says he wants to be a writer and isn’t writing, doesn’t.Ernest Hemingway

3. You can make money writing

Pro: I’ve mentioned in another blog, you can turn your writing into cash. Depending on what kind of writing you do, or whom you’re writing for, writing pays a lot. You can charge per word, per page, or per project, depending on what you’ve agreed upon with your client.

Con: Sadly, there’s no minimum wage for writers. Although there are some writers who earn a lot, some writers still struggle and receive low pay. That’s why many people still think that writing is not a real occupation or a good source of income.

4. Anybody can start at any time

Pro: The late Sidney Sheldon published his first novel past his age 50 although he had been a screenplay writer before that. Other writers started their writing career late, too. I am also a late bloomer, I started writing professionally in my 30’s.

Con: Distractions, discouragements, and chores may get in the way while you’re in the mood for writing. Well, all writers agree that the hardest part of writing is the beginning. Therefore, you could not just start writing any time.

5. You have the basic materials

Pro: Actually, you are the basic material. Your talent, knowledge, skills, and experiences can provide the basic materials you need for writing. Write first of what you know about.

Con: Sometimes, your material is not enough. You need to seek out and research more. Writing is hard work.

6. You write alone

Pro: Writing is a good career choice for introverts who are shy to interact with people but have something more to say to the world. Most writers are introvert, come to think of it. You can lock yourself inside your room and write.  (I love this part.)

Con: However, no man is an island. You need to socialize, interview, and network from time to time. In the end, you have to deal with editors and publishers, too.

So there you have it, six pros and cons of being a writer. Let me know your thoughts or if you have something to add on this one.

Debunking Remote Work Myths & Misconceptions (Plus its Pros & Cons)

After almost 7 years, I left the BPO industry in 2012 to try my luck in remote work. Working from home at that time was starting to gain ground.

Who wouldn’t love to work from home? With the kind of traffic in Metro Manila, the long commute under the tropical weather is already a challenge. My commute from our house in Fairview to Cainta and back took 3 hours from my day. My commute to and from Makati took 4 hours. That was around 2006 to 2012. Imagine if I’m still working in Metro Manila today.

Good news: President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Telecommuting Act or Republic Act 1165 last 20 December 2018. This law provides private companies to allow their employees to work in an alternative place with the use of telecommunications and/or computer technologies. In short, working from home is now legally accepted as a work arrangement in the Philippines.

Other perks of working from home are having no specific dress code and having flexible working hours. As long as I have a working computer, a PayPal or bank account, and a good Internet connection, I’m fine.

If Those are the Pros, What are the Cons?

One of the main downside of working from home is the interruption from family members, relatives, and friends. Because they know that I’m at home, they can call on me any time. The flexible schedule and the comfortable dress code are also partially to blame. People around me know that I’m working, but they can’t help to call me to eat, or to ask something, or any other trivial interruptions. But it’s fine with me because it gives a random change from the routine.

Having a specific work schedule and a home office space couldn’t solve the problem especially if the remote worker himself allows it.

Another disadvantage that I could think of is the way remote work is getting the bad reputation it doesn’t deserve. There are myths and misconceptions from people who had bad experiences with remote workers and from people who are wary to try.

Related Article: A Reality Check on Freelancing

Debunking the Myths & Misconceptions

“How do you know people aren’t slacking off?”

People got used to seeing people at their desk working. So for managers who don’t see much of the remote workers, they start to wonder. Trust issues start to set in. But if managers and remote workers know what they are responsible for and when the deadline is, and how to work accordingly, then slacking shouldn’t be an issue.

Installing a monitoring tool may solve the problem of slacking

When I started working from home in 2012, I was required to install in my computer a monitoring tool. Aside from recording how many hours I’ve worked in a day, it also takes a screenshot of my computer every 10 minutes.

But there is a monitoring tool that I’ve used that only detects keyboard and mouse activities. So when I work offline, like writing on a pad paper instead of typing, my “productivity rate” is reduced. It sounds unfair, right?

Also, other remote workers I’ve encountered think these monitoring tools are stressful. Aside from proving their presence online while working on creative tasks, it also breeds mistrust. That’s the reason why other remote workers prefer to choose home-based work that doesn’t include monitoring tools.

Working in the comfort of my home doesn’t mean I’m available 24/7

There are online jobs that require me to follow the client’s time zone. So if my client is from the U.S., I have to work at night following his office hours. But there were times that even I already logged off, I would be receiving emails or calls while I’m asleep.

Also, other people don’t realize that not all emails or questions on chat are urgent. There is a big difference between what is critical (urgent), important, interruption, and trivial.

Remote work counters the work culture

Managers think that because remote workers are away from the office, they don’t know what’s happening in the office or can’t personally attend meetings.  But technology made it possible for remote work as it is today. Video conferencing bridges that gap and there are also collaborating tools that could be utilized yet still nurture a work culture.

I’ve experienced attending a Town Hall meeting where all of us, including the boss, were on Skype. I could see their faces, their work spaces, their kids, and other things about them.  It was a happy virtual hanging-out.

Also, you can create a chat group for “watercooler discussions” where you can joke around and be yourself with other members of the remote team.

I chose to work from the comfort of my home. I am not required to commute, hence I do not consume energy, deplete natural resources, pollute the environment, and create congestion in the city.anonymous

How to Make It Work

Remote work is a game-changer in labor and management. Although not all companies are open to idea of having their employees work from home, this set-up could work on some industries.

It should start from the top

Upper management should start the initiative to set-up their own remote work program. They should be the first to set the objectives on why they should offer remote work to their employees before rolling it out to their middle management teams. Now that this is a law, private companies should be implementing their own policies by now.

Establish ground rules

Setting up a program like remote work requires having its own implementing rules and regulations. Everything from how things are done from recruitment to resignation should be laid out on paper. It’s much different from the traditional office work. I should know, I’ve written an employee’s handbook for a remote team once. It should include clear guidelines on communication — when and when not to use email, chat, or any other digital tools.

Use the right digital tools

There are many collaboration and communication tools available for remote work. Every company prefer one tool from the other. That’s why I’ve encountered and used many of them — Basecamp, Highrise, Trello, Asana, Time Doctor, Google Drive, Slack, HipChat, Skype, Zoom, etc.

With so many applications, one should realize the impact of time. If the issue is time-sensitive, then use chat or call. If it could wait for a day or two, use email or a collaborative tool.  Again, not everything online is urgent and important.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Top 52 Productivity Tools, Apps and Software Programs of 2019

Empathy

Since we don’t see each other face-to-face while sending emails or chatting, we express ourselves in emoticons or emojis. There were instances in my remote work life when chat conversations were misinterpreted. What seemed to be a constructive criticism was perceived by someone as an argument.

If ever this happens to you, it is better to do a one-on-call call via Skype and settle the differences before anything goes wrong. Remember that on the other end of the line is another human being with feelings.

Transparency

Being employed in the BPO industry taught me to practice transparency. Remote work requires transparency — lots of it. Unlike in the office where everything needs to be on black and white, remote work is paperless and digital. But with the right tools, remote work can be transparent and beneficial to both manager and remote worker.

Simply Embrace Remote Work

With the challenges of long commute and work-related stress, labor is now slowly shifting to remote work. It is shaping the future of employment. Companies might want to look into the possibility of offering remote work to its employees.

Let me know your thoughts on remote work.

Make The Time To Write

Writing is a juggling act. A writer juggles his job, family, friends, recreation, and writing. Some writers grow weary of the constant juggling act and give up writing. Others like me struggle to keep going.

How do you find time to write?” has been a common question to writers or among writers. The answer depends on each one of us. Some writers write during their free time while others have a fixed schedule. Some of the well-known authors started writing their novels while having a job of their own. Other famous writers had the luxury of spending their whole day writing.

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. – Stephen King

For Stephen King, constant reading keeps the writing going. Even professional writers have their own ways of delaying their writing tasks. Arranging their bookshelves, doing some art & crafts, binge-watching are some of them. But in the end, once they find the impetus to write, they do write on their desk.

The secret is forcing yourself to write everyday, either measured by page count or by word count. The important thing is showing up on your desk and write. But when delays turn from a few minutes into a few weeks, or even months, that becomes a big problem.

One of the reasons why “writers” don’t write is they don’t love writing. They like referring themselves as “writers” but they hate the hard work that goes with it.

But there are other writers who would hit the typical writer’s block. They struggle daily on how to go through with it, and then have a breakthrough moment and leap back to work.

Like any other writer, I experience writer’s block. I spend my time on other activities other than writing. And when I realize that I have deadlines to beat, I decide to make things work in my favor. So I devise a plan: make a schedule and make it work.

Fifteen years ago, I was still single then and starting my career as a freelance writer. I wrote from 9 am to 6 pm and made a schedule that had become my daily routine. It made me more focused and productive.

But everything changed when I gave birth. Taking care of a baby became a handful that I don’t have the time to write. Then an employment in the corporate jungle came along. I wrote reports not novels for the next seven years. Until I decided to return to writing in 2012 and started working from home.

Finding time to write is forcing myself to write everyday. I have to write something be it a chapter of a novel or a blog. It’s like showing up for work on my desk.

Always remember that it’s how frequent you write each week and not how many hours a day you spend in writing. Spending three times a week, 2 hours per day writing is much better than writing 4 hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays. I guess, this has something to do with the momentum. Try not to lose the momentum when there’s a story running in your head.

There are 3 P’s we gain from this kind of scheduled writing:

Planning

This is the most difficult part of writing. This is the stage where you set up everything from settings to characters to plot. By having a consistent writing schedule, you have the time between writing sessions to think about what you’re going to write next.

Pressure

Having a consistent writing schedule puts a pressure on you not not to write. Even if you’re able to write a single paragraph, you’ll be back tomorrow to write again, no matter what. Compare it if you’re just going to write once or twice a week. That one paragraph will probably stay as one paragraph in the next two weeks because you stopped somehow. And that will get you in serious trouble.

Practice

They say that practice makes perfect. It’s the repetition that trains the mental muscles and extract creative juices. You will notice that your writing improves with time.

But since people are different, one method doesn’t fit all. There are two ways of making a writing schedule. Both are effective so you can choose which one works best for you.

Gridlock Method

This is a rigid schedule of writing that you must adhere religiously. Using a grid, fill in every hour that you have commitments or activities. Then look at the empty blocks and try filling the blocks where you are absolutely positive you can write. Be realistic and don’t overbook yourself. Three to five times a week for two hours a day is fine. If you can’t find reasonable number of hours for writing in a week, examine your priorities. Once you have workable schedule, stick to it. Let other members of the family know that you have to follow a schedule and you’re serious about it.

Spare Change Method

This involves establishing goals for each day and week. Your goal is not putting in a certain amount of time, rather, producing a specific number of pages each day or week. Decide if you are going to adhere to a daily or a weekly goal. Take a calendar and write down a daily goal or at the end of the week, write the page number you expect to achieve on that day. Don’t worry if you’re uncertain, or if it keeps on changing as you write. The point is to establish a goal and work towards it.

True, writing is a juggling act. But the main hurdle in becoming a successful writer is finishing a writing project — be it a novel or a short story. Making a schedule and finding time to write will help you do that.