Freelance writing is a process of continuous learning. Before embarking on this career, I spoke to people who also wrote for a living. They consistently explained how necessary it was to have a schedule, and to stick to it.
I was able to do this for the most part. There were times when I couldn’t always keep up with deadlines but I had an understanding editor as one of my first clients. I wasn’t earning much but I was working consistently and the client paid weekly. Eventually, my editor trusted me with a larger project that paid $200. At that time, it was the most I’d earned as a ghostwriter and it could’ve been my ticket to more lucrative projects.
Except that I royally messed up.
The agency I was working with said it was okay to reject work once in a while as long as I didn’t do it often. Instead of saying no, I assumed the work would be easy, and always said yes. The topic wasn’t difficult. It involved reviewing a website that had a straightforward process. The client wanted an extensive word count and I couldn’t find a way to get to it without writing fluff.
I panicked about what to do next and…I didn’t turn in the assignment. I received an angry email from the editor, and rightfully so. Here is the valuable lesson that should’ve been obvious to me back then.
Don’t be afraid to pass up an assignment that you feel is difficult, or not suited to your skill level. You may be able to refuse assignments with some editors or agencies without it affecting your bottom line. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance if you’re having difficulty meeting word counts. It’s hard to write about cellar doors and PVC pipes but your client asked for 3,000 words on this for a reason. Most editors can provide you with creative ways to meet these goals without having to decrease the quality of your work.
Communicate doubts. An email chain is more annoying than a writer who ghosts an editor. You don’t have to know it all but, at that time, I felt that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t get far. Instead, I let nerves get the best of me, and bailed. From failure can rise success and improvement. I learned the hard way not to be afraid to approach an editor with my questions and/or clarifications and I have much better habits now.
Ingrid Cruz is a full-time freelance writer. She enjoys traveling, reading, and a good cup of coffee. Her website is: https://ingridcruzwrites.wordpress.com
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