Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stay Creative While Staying at Home: a Guide for Freelance Writers

Freelancing is a dream for many people – at least they say so. A flexible schedule and the opportunity to select their projects all sound really alluring.

Complaining about rigid procedures and hierarchies at their companies, workers often contend that their abilities go unnoticed or underestimated. Their office has become a prison for their creative potential.

According to statistical data collected by ResearchWritingCenter.com from internal reports:

Over 90% of in-office writers who joined the RWC ranks will switch to freelancing with RWC – leaving in-office positions, within 1 year. The remainder of new recruits will join them within the next 6 months, or will seek another occupation (based on 3.5 years of observation). This means that no in-office writer in the sample who continued working in their corporate position for more than 1.5 years.

However, contrary to the widely held misconception that freelancers are all in clover, working at home poses some unique challenges. Additionally, they face the possibility of creative block, a potentially career-killing condition wherein a person finds themselves short of ideas. There is truly nothing more dreadful than the inability to start working when confronted with a white page.

No matter how interesting the projects might be on which a freelancer works, isolation, and colorless routine remain consistent attributes of work at home.

Sitting in the same room, at the same table, and looking at the same wallpaper pattern (whether on the computer screen or on your walls) may not only be depressing, but also has a negative impact on a person’s productivity.

Lack of communication and being cut off from new impressions; decrease a writer’s chances of generating novel ideas and implementing innovative approaches to projects. These are so serious that all freelancers should take all possible preventative measures to avoid depression and stay creative.

Actually, creativity is significant not only for ensuring quality, but also to keep a writer satisfied with his or her own work. If a freelancer submits a project that seems mediocre, even though he/she has used standard schemes and methods for research and composition, the writer will feel that he/she could have done better. If this situation occurs more than once, and projects begin to look alike, it is high time to raise the alarm. Don’t wait, please, until full-fledged writer’s block sets in! As the proverb says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The same caution applies to the organization of the working environment and schedule at home. A freelancer should strike a healthy balance between self-discipline and a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. Of course, it is vital to stick to business and resist the temptation to waste time on trifles, however pleasant. At the same time, concentration for too long without remission on a research topic may have a paradoxical effect. Some psychologists recommend a modest degree of woolgathering rather than uninterrupted concentration on a project.

A writer following this advice will return to the subject after a delimited relaxation period (perhaps with the help of a timer), refreshed and ready to plunge back in.

Finding the golden mean is important in all spheres of life, and even sticking to business can be taken too far. Keep in mind that creativity, a precondition of success as a freelancer, requires an untrammeled imagination and soaring flights of thought.

In creating the best conditions for this flight of thought, a freelancer should consider modifying both external and internal factors. Thus, a freelancer can make their surroundings work for them rather than against them.

On the one hand, it is critical to keep workspace in order, if for no other reason than that notes might get lost on a messy desk. On the other hand, a setting of judiciously controlled chaos is helpful for some individuals.

A steady diet of the same dull scenery can suppress a writer’s creativity; a detail of the home workplace effectiveness which should not be underestimated. Actually, psychologists advise everyone to make changes in their surroundings from time to time, but this hint is particularly helpful for freelancers. It is possible, without too much investment, to change the appearance of almost any workspace.

Adding or changing a piece of art or poster on display, a different set of curtains, switching the furniture around, swapping out a different floor covering, moving the computer so that a different view is visible; these are “cheap and cheerful’ brighteners, as the British ladies on the BBC show How Clean is Your House might say!

By the way, violet is said to stimulate creativity, so think about including some touch of this color in your workspace. Of course, it is important to adapt any such hints to your own idiosyncratic working style.

It may seem like a major challenge to find inspiration in a small, isolated workspace, but human imagination and contemporary technologies can create unlimited opportunities. Even without office water cooler and lunchroom interactions, an at-home freelancer can still participate in a professional forum.

These online communities offer the chance to exchange experiences, share advice, and discuss the day’s burning issues, whether those issues include global warming, or Manchester United’s chances for the World Cup.

Creative block is truly the besetting demon of all freelancers.

It is practically an occupational disease. Preventing it is crucial for a freelancer’s professional survival. A freelancer should do anything within reason to avoid getting into a rut of stereotypical thinking, depression, or isolation.

This can be helped by modifying one’s surroundings, being pro-active about alternating concentration with relaxation, and reaching out to other professionals using current technology.

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