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Be Mused by Susan M. Brackney
Be Mused : Putting Off Those Pink Slips

Be Mused

Putting Off Those Pink Slips

UpsetDear Muse,

I am pursuing my life's dream of being a freelance writer and reporter. I have my own office and work for some major clients. But my problem is this: whenever an editor rightly or wrongly criticizes me, I fall apart, cry, get worked up and question all over again if what I am doing is the right thing. On top of that, the one thing about freelancing that no one talks about is how tenuous the work and money can be, and I am overly anxious and constantly feel insecure.

How can I better handle these difficulties, and what can I do to stop feeling like "today's the day I'm finally going to be fired!"?

Ah, the thin-skinned freelance writer. This is an exquisitely unfortunate pairing surpassed only by the bashful politician or, perhaps, the anorexic sumo wrestler. So you react badly to criticism most of the time. That's all right — as long as you don't allow the criticism to crush you completely. Since a large part of freelance writing is pitching story ideas to grumbly editors and having those great ideas of yours summarily rejected, you may want to start buying your tissues in bulk.

But I wonder if you are taking just a little time each day to acknowledge your successes. Remember that not many people have the guts to do what you are doing. You have your own office and some major clients, and you should be very proud of your progress so far. There are a couple of ways to safeguard your situation and ease your mind.

The most obvious way is to deliver flawless copy on time every time. Additionally, you should be a pleasure to work with. Go above and beyond by sending your most important clients hand-written thank-you notes and thoughtful holiday cards, and you could delay the proverbial pink slip indefinitely.

You might also have less to worry about if you consult with a good financial planner. Financial planners aren't just for the wealthy, and they can help you see your financial picture more clearly. A good planner can examine the difficulties peculiar to your occupation and help you better reach your financial goals.

Even when you do find yourself swamped with plenty of assignments, you should spend five to ten minutes every day seeking new clients and writing opportunities because, as you know, clients come and go. There are several great spots on the World Wide Web to find new gigs and network with other freelancers just like you. One of the best is mediabistro.com. Some others to try are writerswrite.com, writing-world.com, writersdigest.com, and freelancewriting.com.

Finally, if and only if you are down to your last package of ramen noodles, you can always find writing gigs with unscrupulous companies seeking original term papers, essays and book reports for their "student clientele," but you didn't hear that from me. Better yet, you can always moonlight at a temp agency until the trouble has passed. •

© 2001 Susan M. Brackney. All rights reserved.

Susan M. Brackney Need a little help finding your way on the road less traveled? Susan M. Brackney, author of The Lost Soul Companion will try to solve your creative quandaries. More »