Writing for a Living: Coping With the Strain of Multiple Projects

There is a fine line between writing for life and writing for a living, and sometimes it’s easy for us writers to get caught up in the middle of multiple projects. Sometimes we don’t realize just how thinly we are spreading ourselves out to make other projects happen, but that’s what makes us so different from any other worker: writers are resourceful and resilient.

Unless you have a full time writing career with a firm, a paper, a website, a publisher or an agent, you will need to be prepared to hunt down big writing jobs or a lot of little projects in order to make a living . Being a new writer in the industry can be especially difficult, as sometimes the only option is to write what we are told to.

Now I can speak for a lot of writers when I say we try to justify taking extra projects on. We play that shuffling game in our heads, where we move around all of our current commitments and try to squeeze that extra project in. We make excuses for ourselves that sound a lot like, “Oh, It’s okay, I’m a writer! I love what I’m doing!” But little do we realize that we are draining our brains and exhausting our skill.

It’s important for writers, especially those who juggle creative and non-creative work, to find that perfect balance. Without a balanced schedule, our passion will easily become our stressor and that’s how writers lose momentum. Here are some tips and tricks I have found useful while balancing my novel, my freelance writing and my writing for school:

1. Every morning, create a writing plan:
Each morning I wake up and I curate “The List!” This is a list of all the tasks I need to complete that day. Sometimes the list is long, sometimes it only has one thing, but no matter what, I always have it near my computer. On this list, I make sure to include deadlines, priority tasks and scheduled 10-20 minute breaks.

2. Make sure you are distributing your time evenly:
Obviously some jobs are going to take a little more precedence over other personal projects, but always make sure to give yourself the wiggle room to write at least a little bit for yourself during the day. It’s not only going to be a huge stress reliever, but sometimes it actually can help your brain function better when writing for work.

3. Don’t bite off more than you can chew:
It’s easy to tell yourself, “I can do one more thing and I’ll be fine,” but you need to make sure that you physically and mentally can handle another project on your plate. It is completely alright to tell a client that you are busy–they more than likely understand that you’re busy because you’re talented, and they can wait until you’re available.

The most important tip I have to give is to always remember that, though you are a writer, you are still a human. Don’t feel bad if you can’t handle everything that is being thrown at you. It takes a skilled writer to work well under pressure but it takes a strong writer to know where to draw the line.


Mazie Bishop is a fiery 22 year-old writer and journalism student from Canada. She is self-published and also has several poems and short fiction pieces published in various anthologies and magazines. She is a big dreamer who hopes to be writing with the big guys some day and cannot wait for her career to start! Currently, she is in the process of writing her second novel, and is in the outlining stages of a quarter-life memoir. You can read about her little crafty adventures, read her work, and gander at her photos on www.theselittlepieces.com. Follow her on Twitter at @maziebones.

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