My last few entries here discussed how I left my 30-hour weekly retainer work and re-entered the freelance world. With 24 published books and countless published articles under my belt, I shouldn’t have difficulty getting contracts.

What has surprised me about my freelancing re-entry, however, is the difficulty I’m having focusing.

Maybe it’s that I’d grown accustomed to someone else calling the shots, and now I don’t know how. Or perhaps I’ve become lazy since I’ve been under assignment for the last three years and haven’t had to think about where to pitch my ideas.

Or maybe I’m just burnt out (we’ve had some major family issues explode over the past several weeks, all of which have taken a huge emotional toll on me).

Whatever it is, I just can’t seem to settle down and concentrate.

So today I’m making lists (one of my strategies for enhancing concentration and productivity): a priority topic list, a get-to-sometime topic list, a targeted periodical list, a periodical wish list, etc.

And my goal is to get ten query letters out in the next ten days (a VERY reasonable goal).

My other goal is to get my office cleaned out and set up again within the next two days — a tidy, efficient work space always makes it easier for me to focus.

That should get me started.

We’ll see how it works out.

‘Til next time,


As a freelancer, I live with uncertainty. It’s just the way of it:

  • I can’t control whether or not my work is accepted for publication.
  • I can’t make a publisher stay solvent long enough to publish my work.
  • I can’t influence an editor’s decision to kill or not kill a topic.
  • I can’t change current events that might alter a publishing schedule.
  • I can’t determine when I get paid.

But I can do some things to generate more regular income:

  • Do my homework (especially market research).
  • Submit, submit, and submit some more.
  • Submit only to those publications that pay on acceptance.
  • Submit only cleanly edited, well-written articles.
  • Do everything within my power to avoid rejection.
  • Retain copyrights.
  • Follow guidelines.
  • Meet deadlines.
  • Always have works in progress (develop a project board).
  • Track my projects, assignments, and submissions.
  • Identify and establish a few key (paying) clients; write regularly for them.
  • Treat freelancing professionally (regular hours, professional work ethic, etc.).

I have to admit, after my initial joy over writing my stuff again, I’m nervous about the uncertainty that comes with freelancing, especially on the pay front. I didn’t think I’d be, but I am.

If my freelancing history is any indication, I should be able to generate multiple submissions and contracts (and regular pay). But it’s been three years since I’ve been in that saddle, and the market has changed.

Can I find work as a freelancer in today’s market?

I think I can. And I’ll try.

But I won’t know the outcome unless I start submitting.

I guess that means I’ll have to live with uncertainty again. That’s the price I’m paying for freedom — the freedom to write as I choose.

I hope it’s worth it.

‘Til next time,


Working at the Computer

After three years of retainer work, ghost-writing, and regular book contracts, I’ve decided to return to full-time, 100%-freelance writing.

And, for the most part, I’m delighted. I’m looking forward to

  • being my own boss again
  • planning and setting my project schedule
  • carrying responsibility for my work alone (not that of others)
  • developing topics of my choosing
  • pursuing my passions
  • using my creativity
  • focusing on the writing process itself (not countless other details)
  • doing only what I’m equipped and qualified to do
  • writing, rewriting, and editing as good writers do
  • knowing when to quit revising and having the authority to make that decision
  • engaging other writers and editors (who understand the process) in creative dialog
  • teaching at writers’ conferences again
  • redeveloping my writing network
  • working according to my muse and pacing (but always meeting deadlines)
  • working out of my home office all the time and not having to share on-site office space
  • and just wearing a writer’s hat as I work — no other hats like I’ve had to wear for the last three years

I have to admit I’m a bit uneasy, though, too. Working under retainer had its perks:

  • regular assignments
  • regular income

LOL…isn’t that interesting?

As I’m sitting here trying to come up with the perks of writing regularly for someone else, all I can think of is the the predictability of work and income.

If that doesn’t make things clear for me, I don’t know what will.

So I’m back — officially not until mid-December, but I can start the freelance wheels turning in the meantime.

I’m looking forward to the adventure!

‘Til next time,


I’m in avoidance mode.

There. I said it. And it’s true.

Here I am, under freelance contract for two books (both due in the next few months), needing to prep for a retreat at which I’m speaking this weekend, and under deadline for my day job (one big writing project and another smaller one, both due in the next week).

And what am I doing? Blogging.


At least blogging is a step in the right direction; I could be shopping or watching TV or walking my dogs or cleaning or chatting on the phone or doing any one of a dozen other things I find myself doing when I don’t want to write.

Avoidance is something we all experience as writers. It’s just part of the trade. Call it “writer’s block” or “procrastination” or “sleepy muse” or whatever you like, but it all boils down to us avoiding putting words to paper (or monitor screen) when we know we should be writing.

Here are the things I’ve found most helpful to get me rolling when I’d rather not start:

1. Get rid of external distractions: turn off the TV; unplug the phone; put the cell phone on “silent” mode; close the door to the office (if you have one); close the window blinds if you have to. Do whatever it takes to reduce external interruptions.

2. Make a list of the tasks cluttering your mind that you’re afraid you’ll forget. I find thinking about all the other tasks I need to do (home and work) to be distracting. If I write them down, they’re no longer interrupting my thought process.

3. Set a timer, then force yourself to work for that amount of time. Start with 15 minutes if you must. I usually find that once I begin, I gain momentum.

4. Write. Just write. Anything. Blog first, if that will get your writing juices flowing (that’s what I’m doing now).

5. If you’re avoiding because you’re overwhelmed by a project, break the project into manageable bites. You can start by outlining the dates by which you think you can realistically complete certain tasks. For example, I might begin by outlining my next book project this way: a topic list of what I’ll cover in the book will be done by X date; the chapter outline will be done by another date; I’ll commit to researching on these dates; I’ll write the draft of the first chapter by this other date; I’ll plan to have three chapters done by the next date, etc.

6. Set a simple, realistic goal for today. By the end of business hours today, I will have completed a date outline for this project. Or Two hours from now, I’ll have my topic list made up. Or By 3:00 this afternoon I will have completed my introductory paragraph. Sometimes, just identifying what I want to work on helps me get started.

7. Recruit a writing accountability partner (this can be an on-line friend or writing group member). Then send weekly goals to that person (or monthly, or whatever you work out). Let them know what you plan to accomplish in what amount of time, the send an e-mail listing those goals and dates to that person and copy yourself on the e-mail. Print your copy, and post it where you can see it to keep you on task.

8. Write your tasks and goal dates right on your calendar where you’ll see them. It will help you stay on target.

9. When you finally get rolling on your writing, finish one thing, start a second, but then quit in the middle of the second (don’t actually complete it today). That will give you a natural starting place for tomorrow.

10. If you have to, put on motivating music, or exercise, or do whatever it is that usually invigorates you.

These are just ten things that help me get started. I’ll list others another time.

Just listing these here has me rolling now, so I’d better get to work while the motivation is still there!

Til next time,

Because I’m closing down one of my other blogs, I thought I’d pass the links I had listed there on to you here (partly for my benefit, but partly for yours, too). They’re worth mentioning.

I’ve listed many of these in my resource margins on the right, but I thought I’d highlight them here (all together in one place). These are some of the best web sites I’ve found in the categories listed below.

If you have others, please comment. I’d love to learn about and pass along more helpful resources!

‘Til next time,
Writing Web Sites:

Associated Press Style Book
Banished Words List – 2006
Banished Words List – 2007
Chicago Manual of Style
Cool Stuff for Writers
Merriam-Webster OnLine
Right Writing (Terry Whalin)
Squidoo: Writers-Reference
The Elements of Style (complete book on-line) by Strunk & White
The Writing Life
Writer’s Digest
Writer’s Tool Kit
Writing Fix
Research Sites:

American FactFinder (US Census)
Barna Research Group’s Great Books OnLine
Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Christian Quotes
Encarta OnLine
Gallup Poll
Internet Public Library
Library Spot
LookSmart’s FindArticles
Medline Plus (Health Info)
The Cyber Hymnal
The Weather Channel
United Nations Statistics
Writing and Speaking Organizations:

Advanced Writers & Speakers Association (AWSA)
American Society of Journalists and Authors
Christian Writers Fellowship Family
Christian Writers Fellowship OnLine
Evangelical Press Association
Freelance Writers Association
Writers Information Network

Blogs Worth Reading (My favorites, but not all writing-related)

Al Grove’s Blog
Christian Mind
Common Grounds Online
Desiring God Blog (John Piper)
Earthly Tents
Evangelical Outpost
Jolly Blogger
Juli’s Jots
League of Reformed Bloggers
Paper, Sticks, and String
PCA Blogs
Sacred Journey
The Hero’s Journey (Lost in Scotland)
The Purple Cellar
The Thinklings
Wittenberg Gate

Earlier this month, dear hubby and I had the chance to experience a wonderful 9-days-away in the Great Smoky Mountains, a vacation during which we spent much time hiking in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

I find it difficult to describe the majesty of this region, so suffice it to say it left me speechless, yet inspired.

Some of our hiking time there was devoted to photo-taking (digital cameras are dangerous in this regard, since we can’t “waste film” by taking too many shots). And I found myself intrigued by various perspectives:

  • looking through doorways
  • capturing the view out various windows
  • taking close-ups
  • playing with odd angles

I’ve included some of those photos here.

And what’s amazing to me is how the “emotion” of the shot changed with varying perspectives.

Sometimes the photo felt warm and inviting; other times, confusing or sad or distant.

And that got me thinking about writing again: about how our perspectives (the lenses through which we look when commenting on various topics) impact the “feel” of our writings.

Some days my writing is warm and inviting. But not always.

And it’s something about which I need to be aware when I write.

Perhaps it’s a practice from which we can all benefit as we seek to influence our readers.

‘Til next time,


My last post discussed the importance of “window work” — the creative process that occurs when we gaze out a window to mull over an idea or issue.

Staring out the same window, however, grows stale and uninspiring.

That’s why I “change it up.”

Yes, here in PA, the view out my window changes with the seasons (we’re back to snow again this week). Sometimes this seasonal transition is enough to keep my creative embers glowing.

But I do change windows, too (working in another room, for example). On occassion, I get rid of windows all together.

When the weather warms, I go outside and work at the picnic table on our deck, or I sit on my secluded bench on our back hill (a bench dear hubby made for me). I sometimes just sit on the grass.

I’ve also worked at the public library, our local Christian bookstore, and a large-chain bookstore, all of which make coffee available to patrons.

Coffee and creativity go hand-in-hand for me.

The change in view broadens my perspective and offers new images from which my ideas can flow.

And for a writer, that’s a good thing.

Where do you work best? What “windows” inspire your creativity?

I’d love your input.

‘Til next time,