the secret to freelance writing

Now that I've been a freelance writer for a few years, I get the same question a couple times a week—and it is always some variation of: "How do I get started?"

Do you have any tips for new freelance writers?

How did you get your gig at XYZ?

What's the best way to get a freelance assignment? 

Can you help me figure out what to write?

How do I become a better writer, since I want to freelance?

Here's the secret: put yourself out there, and start writing.

Seriously, it's that simple. Although I have sympathy for all the writers dying to get their words in the world (and get paid for it!) I also continually raise my eyebrows at this question. There's no workaround, no short-cut, no quick way to get published. And yes, I know there are a million stories of the blogger going viral, the one-hit wonder author at age 25, the person cherry-picked from oblivion and asked to write.

That's not been my experience, though. Mostly it involves writing. Late nights. Early mornings. During naptime. Lots and LOTS of Googling and research. Reading what other people do. Looking at bylines, and editor emails, and verticals. Endless brainstorming and pitching. And plenty of no's. In fact, probably 75% no's versus yes's. Enough to make you wanna quit? Of course. But if you want to *be a writer* in some sort of published capacity, you don't.

This spring, I stepped up my freelance game, intentionally so. My goal? Publish a first-person essay in a national print magazine. I'm happy to say I checked that off my life (stay tuned for details in November!) I also simply wanted to get more articles under my belt, so I hustled big-time. I've written 50+ articles in the past 2-3 months, and I'm really proud of that work.

But as much as I'd love to announce I've found a "secret" to making it happen, I can't. Because there isn't one. You put your head down and write. You look at a blinking cursor, or a blank page, and combat the voice in your head whispering "It's all been done, you have nothing to add" in favor of the feeling in your heart beating, "No, I want to contribute my take, I can and I will."

Want to start writing? Then start writing.

{2017} march intentions and recap

This year, I did a values exercise that led me to these five words: honesty, passion, growth, humor and solitude. I decided to set mini intentions every month, based on these values, and write about the experience.

Ok so it's already almost end of March, and because of everything going on with moving into a new house, I've barely thought about intentions. But what I draft-wrote at end of February still applies, so what do you know, I had a sense of what I wanted to work on this month anyway!

HONESTY: Admitting change is hard.

This month, there's been major change at work and at home. It's exhausting. Sometimes, it is exciting. It is usually uncomfortable. I see it, I recognize it, I know my impulse to shove back/push against/run away from it, and I try very hard to practice self-care so I can ride the waves through it. I wouldn't say I "succeeded" at handling change this month, but I definitely spent a lot of time being aware of it and admitting when I felt overwhelmed.

PASSION: Go on two date nights.

We actually did this! Went to a Johnnyswim concert with my sister and her fiance, which involved cocktails at the Continental beforehand. (Many thanks to a good friend/fellow mama for babysitting E to make it happen, too. Community is crucial.) And then tonight we're going for dinner at our favorite place, Centro, where I'm absolutely having a dirty martini.

GROWTH: Journal every night.

Nope. Sigh. I don't know why, but even writing a few lines every night feels HARD. This is dumb and no excuse because I have time to scroll through Instagram before bed every night. But I'm giving myself some slack this month, considering all the massive change and extra work and unpacking and painting happening, so aiming for more personal writing in April.

HUMOR: Have fun with house decisions v. decision fatigue.

What a blessing, buying a house! And yet, I've fallen deep down, most days, in the Eeyore feeling of being stressed and overwhelmed. This requires a huge attitude adjustment, and sometimes I just want to complain rather than count my blessings. So, here we go.

Wow, we have a beautiful, big home now that we can afford. We are able to paint multiple rooms in it, colors we like! We installed a cool backsplash in our kitchen that ties together pretty cabinets and nice counters. We put up new lights, and I'm obsessed with them. Our first floor bathroom is no longer ugly beige; it is clean, modern and even has a wood wall. (Kudos to my MIL for that vision). The bottom line is that our house feels homier by the day, and rather than get all worked up about what "needs to get done," I need to chill the F out, enjoy what we've accomplished and remember Rome wasn't built in a day. Plenty of time for projects.

SOLITUDE: Put the phone down at night.

You know that moment when your spouse calls you out on something (usually poor behavior), and you're like UGHHHH LEAVE ME ALONE but also, you're right, okay, fine, I KNOW. No? Just me? Ha.

One night, we were watching tv after putting the baby down, and my husband said, "You're on your phone too much, and you're not listening to me." Me: (offended) "What! I do listen! I'm listening right now! I want to relax on my phone in the evenings, too!" (what does that even mean??) (totally defensive). BUT. He was correct. I was getting into the habit of being on my phone too much in the evenings, and then being very distracted toward him and our son. Of course, it is hard to reconcile downtime in a world of social media and great shows. Being present takes more energy than checking out. But I don't really wanna be the latter to my family.

So the next night, I put my phone on the charger when I got home. I played with E and talked to J about his day. I went to yoga (and left my phone versus bringing it in the car). We ate dinner together at the table and drank a glass of wine. I read a magazine and went to bed early, and I woke up feeling insanely refreshed. 

Not every night can go that way, but certainly more can, and it starts with putting. the goddamn. phone. down. (Note: I still have to practice this every day/night, so I'm very far from perfection here.)