As a teen, I was scared of making money for writing.
When I began to take on little commissions in 2007, I wrote sponsored posts for $1 each — or even less. Sometimes all I got for a 300-word post was ten cents.
My family pushed me to make more money as a writer. But they went a little too far, and I developed a sense of guilt every time I caught myself writing for pleasure.
One day not long ago, I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. The thought of writing my assignments nauseated me.
Instead of diving right into client work, I decided to write something fun. Something for me. Here’s what happened…
Follow your muse
I wrote a personal blog post — and the effect was incredible.
I felt better, and the client work I took up later was better and easier to complete.
Turns out, I’d known how to become a better freelance writer all this time — but guilt was keeping me from doing it.
Here’s how taking time out to focus on fun writing helped me — and how it can help you, too:
- Get in the zone. Sometimes it’s difficult to dive into an assignment topic when there are a thousand distractions around, from noisy neighbors to family chit-chat, or even a headache. Writing for pleasure helps me get into my writing and block out those distractions — so I can write faster.
- Calm the muse and gain focus. Have you ever been sitting at your desk, unproductive, because you had other ideas running through your mind? I found it helpful to write about these ideas first — just simple drafts, not finished pieces — to declutter my mind and focus on the assignment at hand instead.
- Refill the idea well. Letting my mind go and just having fun with writing is a huge trigger for good ideas. After writing something fun, I filled notebooks with headlines or notes I could turn into great client pieces.
- Learn to see different angles of a topic. I enjoy role-play blogging. As a result, I often have characters talk about topics I’m not entirely acquainted with. This task gets me more engaged in the research and learning process — so at the end of the day, I know more about a topic than I would have with just assignment-related research.
- Gain freedom to experiment. One of my role-play characters needed to write a white paper for their community. So I learned how to write white papers, so I could get it done. Bingo! There was a new product I could offer clients.
- Keep a healthy work-life balance. A healthy day is not all about work. Like many of us writing for pay, I have to remind myself not to overdo it. Writing for pleasure keeps the writing part of my brain active without stressing me out.
I’m not perfect at letting go of the guilt. It still pops up. So, I set a goal to make room for all things I love every day, not just work.
Now that I’ve seen how my personal writing can help improve my productivity at paid freelance writing, I’ve made writing for pleasure a goal — not an indulgence.
Do you take time to write for pleasure? Tell us your approach in the comments below.
Luana Spinetti is a freelance writer, artist, and blogger based in Italy. She is the author of a fun (but realistic) 5-page comic: A Look Into A Freelance Writer’s Life.