Maintaining Freelance Writing Focus

Travel is good for the soul, but hard on a freelancer’s focus. Take my recent trip to Turkey.  I came home inspired and bursting with stories to share. Reality hit when I had to sit down and decide if I wanted to try and find homes for these ideas in traditional markets (newspapers and magazines), or take a financial hit and send them to online markets, or put them up on my own blogs.

So many options for the same journey! (Photo: M.Kopp)

So many options for the same journey! (Photo: M.Kopp)

In the meantime, I’m now back in the office with two children’s book deadlines breathing down my neck. Most of the work has been done, but they need to be wrapped up, pronto! Travel stories and ideas – back burner.

A few days later… deadlines met. Where was I? Marketing travel stories, right. Before I can go there, I need to carefully sort through my ideas. Which ones have enough substance to be a magazine or newspaper article? Which slants are time-sensitive and better suited to online markets? And which story ideas are leftover for my blogs? Do I have sufficient, distinctly different, good quality photos to support each idea?

Off to market
Traditional markets – I’ll start there and try to get paid for my prose. It’s going to take time to find the right market, draft a strong query, and wait for a response, but as a freelance writer who makes a career from words, it’s worth the effort. Query #1 sent.

At the same time, I have lots of story ideas running around in my head. I think I’ll send one off to an online market I’ve worked with before. It helps keep me motivated by seeing something published with my byline. As with print, I need to find the right market, draft a strong query, and wait for the response – but online markets have a faster turnaround.

Query #2 sent. Response back in less than a day. The editor kindly passed on the idea… sigh. She’s going to be travelling back to the same area one day soon and doesn’t want to have similar material already up on the website. Fair enough, but now I’ve got to find another market for the idea.

Focus, focus, focus
Searching for potential markets – whether online or print – is an entertaining challenge. Unfortunately, it can also be a huge time suck as I find myself getting pulled off-track again and again and before I know it I’m reading blogs about Turkish food rather than finding a market for my own ideas.

Turkish mezes - a tasteful delight!

Turkish mezes – choices, choices! (Photo: M.Kopp)

Four more children’s books… again most of the work complete… deadlines approaching… It is hard to stay focused at times. Maybe I should give up travel writing altogether. Or maybe the time has come to stop writing children’s non-fiction and focus solely on travel writing. My problem is that I love both genres.

Perhaps it as simple as just getting to work. Send off another online market query, work on the kid’s books some more and then send off another query. Keep moving forward, stay committed to getting things done rather than stressing about it all being hard on my freelance focus. Take one step at a time and accomplish something concrete every day. That’s the ticket.

Query #3… sent. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Find your path and follow it through. (Photo: M.Kopp)

Find your path and follow it through. (Photo: M.Kopp)

How do you stay focused when you have multiple writing projects and story ideas buzzing around your brain?