Top Five Bad Habits of Overworked Writers

Ever get so bogged down with work you feel like your freelance writing game is seriously slipping? Maybe you’re taking on too much at once and spotting the danger signs, or maybe you’re ABOUT to…take a look at this list of bad habits and ask yourself, “Is that ME?” Stop the overwork trainwreck before it begins if you can, or at least get into damage control mode and work on digging yourself out.

Bad Habit #1: Taking on gigs without checking your deadlines on existing work. The fastest way to bury yourself is to accept projects in direct conflict with your already pressing deadlines. Before you know it, you’ll be burning the midnight oil and playing catch up…with important existing editors or clients. Don’t do it!

Bad Habit #2: Giving your existing editors or clients the short shrift in favor of a newcomer. Each of your paid projects deserves your full attention. Are you phoning it in with your favorite source of work so you can impress the new client or editor? You might be able to get away with it for a short time, but in the end you hurt your chances for more work if you can’t give value for the money paid.

Bad Habit #3: Taking on work that’s beneath you. Are you struggling to keep up with good paying, quality gigs because you’re doing too many low-paying blog entries or other writing that eats too much time for not enough pay? Learn to weed out the time wasters and stick to your high-value clients and editors.

Bad Habit #4: Turning in material past deadline or just in the nick of time. Are those timewaster gigs hurting your ability to stay on target with the good gigs? Time for a serious look at the problem and a Dear John letter to your lowest-paying clients.

Bad Habit #5: Working nonstop. Are you getting out of bed, hitting the keyboard, and working until bedtime? That’s a sure sign you’ve taken on far too much. This practice should not become part of your lifestyle. If it does, you miss the whole reason to go freelance in the first place—freedom! You may as well work in an office with a set schedule if you’re going to kill yourself at home. Schedule some YOU time. Your writing will improve as a result.

The reason I know so much about these five bad habits is that I’ve done them all myself. Especially the working around the clock thing. Avoid these pitfalls by any means necessary…at some point in a freelance writing career, everybody will make these mistakes; keep them to a minimum and you’ll live much better regardless of income.

6 thoughts on “Top Five Bad Habits of Overworked Writers”

  1. I’ve always had to curb my urges to take “just one more” project. The lure of that extra paycheck outstrips the urge to sleep. Dialing myself back is ALWAYS tough…

  2. All great points, but #3 is an especially big problem. It becomes so tempting for some writers to keep taking gigs below what they’re worth just to keep some money coming in, that they don’t always even realize the damage they’re doing by taking away time that could be spent marketing to reach a better client market.

    Great observations. 🙂

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