I originally gave up my full time job in September 2009 for five months to write a book. I didn't know it was going to be for five months, but I'd given myself a six month deadline, not knowing how I would cope working in a completely different environment without people around me. The book was something I'd been working on for ten years and I was desperate to put it to bed so I could move on with other writing projects. I'm happy to say I achieved it. Five months later I went back into full time employment, found an agent, found a publisher and the book was finally out there.
Thinking I'd like to give being my own boss another go and explore more of the new publishing model, I started my freelancing journey at the beginning of 2012, but I quickly realised I was trying to cover too much ground. I was in the midst of a giant project (my 30 Things to do before I'm 30) and couldn't stop myself hurtling along. I'd already started two months later than planned and was cramming in lots of travel and so many activities. The plan did change as I moved through the months, and while I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, I ended up branching even further out into the unknown. Looking back at it now, that year was more about having fun than concentrating on my writing, but I blurred the line. I wasn't clear on what I was trying to achieve. The original plan was to clear the decks whilst having fun, but I flipped that idea on myself. I even took up a part time job two thirds of the way into the year - and that definitely hadn't been part of the plan!
So here's a few things from the second installment of my being my own boss I'd like to share with you:
It sounds obvious but be clear on your objective. What is the ultimate goal here? First time around, I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish and I did it. Second time, it was very confusing. And I caused that confusion on myself. Yes I had a fabulous year, but it was a completely different ending to what I'd originally intended. By the time I turned 30, I still had a mass of unfinished projects.
Don't start freelancing in multiple projects unless you are extremely disciplined. I know I need very strict deadlines. I'm more effective when I work on one thing, see it through to completion and then move onto the next. It's also better for my frame of mind. Putting this to the test, in only four weeks (last month) I completed a couple of guides for freelancing and publishing and a poetry anthology. To put how amazing this is for me into perspective, these are projects I've been thinking about for a few years!
Be ahead of the game, not continually running behind. In January 2012 I had a three week holiday in Canada and I was very relaxed and focused. Even coming in two months behind schedule appeared to be ok in my mind and I started out with the very best of intentions, but as soon as I got home, things spiralled. 30 Things plans completely overran any initial freelancing plans.
Finally, depending on how you work best and your circumstances, if you feel yourself drifting away from the main goal, have the discipline to pull yourself back in the game. For me, in this particular case, until my 30 Things was over, there was no point in trying to do any serious freelance work. I had so many exciting things going on, it was impossible to focus. And I didn't feel so bad about this because 1) it was self induced and actually I was supposed to be going a little crazy and having fun and 2) I could see an end. Once I hit 30, it was crack down time.
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Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.