The best thing you can do to improve yourself as a writer is to write. Like Nike says, “Just do it!”
But over the last year of working from home, there have been a few non-writing related activities that have helped me become a better freelancer and grow my business.
I suffer from intense pain in my right shoulder that, when left untreated, makes working at my computer for longer than 20 minutes unbearable.
Buying a new desk and chair simply wasn’t an option, so I obsessively started following stretching videos on YouTube and eating turmeric to reduce the inflammation.
By taking preventative measures like stretching, exercising, and sitting properly in your chair, you can reduce your chances of damaging your muscles.
Pain will get in the way of a lot of things and growing your business is one of them.
Writers don’t just deal with writer’s block. Anxiety, self-doubt, stress, and more are all regular houseguests.
When these became a constant thorn in my productivity, I started breaking up my workday with manual chores. I’d work for fifteen minutes, fold a pile of clothes, work for another fifteen minutes, and then wash dishes.
It may sound like an unproductive, interrupted day of work, but it actually makes me more focused.
When my thoughts are racing and I can’t focus on the task at hand because I’m obsessing over something unrelated to the work, I can focus on what I’m doing knowing that at the end of the fifteen minutes I have some time for guilt-free stressing.
What makes it guilt-free? Two things.
One: the fact that it is scheduled time.
Two: the fact that I’m doing manual labour, which makes me feel productive. Since it’s impossible for me to do client work when my mind is elsewhere, I can wash a stack of dishes while stressing. (So long as I snap back to attention while washing the knives.)
Flipping Through a PHYSICAL Thesaurus
Before I started writing professionally, I thought I was one wordy motherfucker. Once I had to produce blog post after blog post I started rolling my eyes at the words I kept repeating.
Clients obviously wouldn’t notice this meta-pattern, but I saw the repetition between pieces.
If I find a word boring while writing I’ll quickly click over to an online thesaurus and look for alternatives. But as part of my general professional development, I’ll take the time to flip through my paperback thesaurus in the morning or before bed.
Pursuing a Specialization
Pursue designations or certifications if you can. Carving out a niche for your writing makes you extra valuable to clients who are desperate for a writer who can make their dense, uninviting topic enticing to readers.
I stumbled into writing content for tech start-ups, but I haven’t taken that fortunate entry point for granted. I’m aggressively reading as much as I can about the industry as well as looking for affordable coding for beginners resources to make myself more knowledgable.
Surrounding Myself With Other Writers
Go to networking events. Talk to friends who are also writers. And if you’re not a fan of networking or you don’t have a lot of friends who are going down the same career path, read the blogs and watch the videos of other freelancers.
I’m sociable, but I find networking exhausting and I always leave those events feeling low, so I’ve started to avoid them. My substitute has been using social media to create a digital network of people who inspire and influence me.
Writing and reading are both vital ways to improve your freelance writing career, but if you’re in the industry, you already knew that. Sometimes, activities totally unrelated to creating can help unlock your potential and boost your motivation.
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