Writing, It’s a Lonely Profession: Notes from the Spare Room

At Daily Posts we have a blended workforce, comprising regular freelancers, occasional freelancers, salaried remote workers and full-time office based staff.  We thought it would be a good idea to look at a perspective from one of our fulltime freelancers. We hope you enjoy this piece by Marc.

Writing Agency Blogger

It’s 10am and you have been staring blankly at your laptop monitor for the past 15 minutes.  You are still in your pyjamas, unshaven, sporadically typing out a few random phrases, only to ultimately decide they are no good, angrily stabbing at the backspace key in frustration.  Your deadline is in 8 hours, 1500 words on the subtle but significant differences between dolphins and porpoises, and you have barely anything on your word processor.  You take another sip of coffee, your third cup of the morning, desperate to get the creative juices flowing.  Welcome to the world of being an online writer.

With the advent of Social Media and Online Marketing, online writing has become a legitimately viable career opportunity.  With the ever-increasing demand for quality content, there are plenty of jobs for the taking out there for the aspiring writer.  There are many reasons to pursue a career in this line of work.  Not only can writers work from the comfort of their own homes, but gifted writers can leverage their talents to high-paying contracts and job opportunities.

Of course, while being an online writer can be lucrative, it’s not exactly easy.  Few writers can churn out article after article nonstop without sacrificing the quality of their work, and this is a world in which the quality of your work will always be prioritised over how many articles you can produce.  Nobody has any use for sub-par work, and if you sacrifice quality, you will quickly find yourself out of a job.

It can also be mentally exhausting to have to produce article after article, sitting at a desk all day, staring at a computer monitor with tired eyes.  Being an online writer can be very demanding.  It takes a tremendous amount of brainpower and concentration to power through and produce quality content day after day.  No matter how interesting the topics may be, there is a certain monotony that cannot be denied when you are doing the same thing day after day, a mercenary of words.  Every writer faces the very real risk of becoming burnt out, unable and/or unwilling to write any more.

So how does one succeed at being an online writer?  How do you find the balance between quality and quantity, that thin line between utilizing all your creative juices without completely draining your brain cells and leaving you an empty, useless, shell of a man?

There are a variety of ways to break the monotony of a full-time writing job.  These methods range from the very simple, to the totally extreme, depending on how serious the situation is.  Sometimes the writer just needs to take a short break.  A few minutes of stretching and he’ll be back to work, fresh as a daisy and typing like a madman.  Other times, nothing short of a day off will be enough to refresh a writer’s weary mind, drained from a marathon writing session.  Let’s look at some of the ways that I try to keep sane through the rigours of a mentally demanding profession.

Just Move!

You would be surprised at how much relief can be achieved by simply standing up and moving.  It can be something as simple as walking around, or stretching for a few minutes.  Sitting down for too long puts your back in a compromised position, and a little stretching goes a long way in terms of preventing back pain.  Having an aching back is not very conducive to trying to come up with some literary genius, believe me!

Staying sat down for too long may also affect your blood circulation.  Writing is tough enough in the most optimal of conditions; there is no sense in making it even more difficult by having poor blood flow to your brain.

There is also a psychological benefit to knowing that you don’t HAVE to be in front of your monitor all the time, and that it’s OK to take short 5-minute breaks whenever you feel like you need one.  As far as tricks for staying sane while writing go, few give you more bang for your buck than simply moving.

Goof Off!

There’s no reason why you can’t mix work with play.  As an online writer, you are subject to the mercy of your creative process.  However, that process tends to become dull when you’re about to go out of your mind from staring at your word processing program for the sixth consecutive hour.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a little break and indulging in the wonderful joys of social media.  Why not like a few photos of cats on Facebook?  Or maybe share that hilarious tweet from your favourite online personality?

Writing can be an isolating job because you need to be alone with your thoughts, but it can prove really productive (and just as important, healthy) to let your mind focus on something else once in a while. Daily Posts have given us a Virtual Office to work from. In there all staff can meet in the Water Cooler Room to chat, and,yes, Goof  Off.

What may be classified as a distraction in a more conventional work environment is simply stimulation for your creative mind in ours.  Remember that as a writer, you are an artist.  A mind that is not stimulated will not work as creatively as a mind that is constantly exposed to different sorts of stimuli.

Work Out!

Studies show that a fit body does actually translate to a fit mind.  Taking some time off from a busy writing schedule can actually pay huge dividends later on.

When you’re fit and healthy, your brain probably works better, which means that as your health improves, so does the quality of your thinking and writing.  Besides, it’s only common sense that the healthier and fitter you are, the more energy you’ll have.

It may not seem like it, but writing full-time can be a very taxing endeavour.  Being in better health will not only improve the quality of your work, it can also help you power through those moments when you feel like quitting.  Having a general sense of wellbeing has often been shown to improve productivity in just about every endeavour.  So go hit the gym.  Take a yoga class. Enjoy a hike up a mountain.  Keep your body happy, and your mind will stay sharp as well.

Have A Life!

Nothing will burn you out and turn you off from writing online more than having nothing else going on in your life.  Writing is your job, but that doesn’t mean it has to control your life.

If you want to go out with your friends for a night on the town, you should.  The change of scenery will probably do more good than harm to your writing, anyway.  Does your family want to go away for a weekend at the beach?  Then you should definitely go.  It’s admirable to make writing your priority, but there’s a difference between sacrificing for the sake of productivity, and sacrificing just for the sake of sacrificing.

Always look at the big picture.  Your overall mental state will affect the quality of your work (not to mention your quality of life) much more than whatever “sacrifices” you have made to put in more time.  As always, think quality over quantity.  As long as you are making enough time to fulfil your writing requirements, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying all that life has to offer.

Take a Holiday!

Sometimes, part of being productive is knowing when it’s time to take a break.  If you ever reach that point where it is a struggle to just sit in front of your computer, then maybe you need to take a little holiday to recharge your batteries, figuratively speaking.

There is no sense in working when you are so burnt out that all you can produce are sub-par articles.  You would be much better off if you can recognise and accept when you’re completely run down, so you can take a step back and refresh yourself physically, psychologically, and mentally.

As mentioned repeatedly for emphasis in this article, writing can be very taxing.  It is only prudent to know when it’s time to take a break from such an exhausting job.  It can be a few days off, or even an entire week.  There’s no other way around it.  Have enough foresight to understand that taking a break when needed is part of being committed to being the best online writer you can possibly be.  It’s not slacking off; it is simply making sure that you are always in the most productive state of mind when you sit down in front of your computer to craft your next masterpiece.

To sum it all up, being an online writer is a great career path to look at.  You’re given a chance to share your gift for writing, and you get paid handsomely to do it.  Still, it must be recognised that this profession is incredibly demanding, much more so than outsiders may think.  That is why it is of utmost importance to always maintain a healthy balance between work and your quality of life.  If one suffers, so does the other.

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