There's No Whining in Freelance Writing

This week I am pretty disturbed at the amount of angst Deb received when she took a picture-21break from writing leads. There was a distinctive tone I heard in many of the comments that was very familiar…it was like so many of the writers I’ve had the opportunity to work with throughout the years.

I heard a level of entitlement. I’m sure you’ll find it in every line of work, a host of people who like to stay in their comfort zone, particularly when that comfort zone has a bit of hand holding.

As an editor, I love to work with writers who have flexiblility and who strike a good balance between independence and knowing when to seek counsel. These writers are confident in their knowledge and skills enough to know when things are under control and when it’s important to contact an editor with questions. These writers are more likely to be the ones who accept edits and input with professionalism and make editing a breeze.

Then there are writers who really like their comfort zones. They never want to vary from their writing style or story angle no matter if it’s better for the audience or publication. They view critiques and edits as a personal attacks and they require a fair amount of hand-holding. An editor’s job is tough enough without having to baby-sit a writer.

Here’s the problem with loving your comforts too much – it prevents you from stretching and growing as a writer. So while there are some things as a writer you’d prefer to live without – a good cup of coffee, or in my case cocoa and a sharp pencil, there are some things you can’t live without and thrive in this profession: flexibility, independence and a “plan-b.”


17 responses
  1. Amanda Nicole Avatar

    Well said, Terreece! I like to pop in here for job leads a few days a week, but I know that I need to rely on numerous sources, especially local ones. It’s the only way to not shoot myself in the foot – it’s just like relying on a few cushy clients, when you should be scoping out new ones even when the work flow is good.

  2. Erika K Avatar
    Erika K

    I think learning how to scrap a little is part of being a freelancer. Otherwise, you would probably be satisfied to go to a day job where the work is sitting there waiting for you every day.

    As if Deb is the only one on the planet gathering leads.

    I think it’s just a way to take out frustrations in a “neutral” way – semi-anonymous, don’t have to actually put your human face next to the person you are criticizing.

    It’s easy to leave a blistering note in frustration when no one can really get back to you about it. Make you feel powerful to walk away from that. Except that your bad mood lingers into other parts of your day. Toxic.

  3. Cheril Vernon Avatar

    Yes, a Plan B is always good. I hate to hear about the mean comments.

  4. Steven Avatar

    Growing pains – I remember them well. At a certain point in my life, I grew from that ability to jump into the car and not being able to jump into the car. It took two serious head knocks on the roof of the door frame before I really learned. Cupboards were the other thing that I had to learn about and took a little while.

    Growth hurts – harsh editors demand growth. I think a writer is making a huge mistake by not learning what it is the editor wants. After all, what one editor likes is likely what other editors like. If you don’t, you’re likely to hit your head real hard.

  5. Kathryn Avatar

    Nicely said – and I think that goes for any aspect of life. If you have kids, you know just how essential a plan b (and c, d and e) can be.

    It’s like getting a rejection letter – you can cry about it or take the letter as a challenge to do more and to do it better!

    Thank you for what you do on this website. The job leads are great, but the community, support and advice help me to push towards my goals more than any lead could ever manage.

  6. Stacy Avatar

    Excellent advice! Getting so caught up in ourselves that change becomes a four-letter word is not the way to achieving success, especially as freelancers.

  7. Angie Atkinson Avatar

    I wasn’t one of the complainers, but I certainly appreciate the reminder to suck it up and deal with the daily freelance grind. Great post, thank you. 🙂

  8. becky Avatar

    I was quite surprised by the comments on all of that. Deb, Anne, and the like have been pretty forthcoming about where they find many of their leads. It’s not hard to go look in those places, if you need to. What I find nice, though, is that Deb wades through all of the sludge and posts the decent ones. That saves me the time of going through multiple cities and lists on craigslist. If she weren’t doing it, I would of course. But it’s nice to have someone else already doing that work.

    Look, if you want to pay Deb some money each week or month, then you *might* have a teeny tiny reason to wonder about leads. Maybe. The only thing unprofessional was the response of some people about leads being gone for a few days.

    Sounds like these are the writers that want jobs to come to them, rather than going out to pursue them. I think they would be difficult to work with, Terreece.

  9. Eds Avatar

    Great article just feel like it’s not just writers who get stuck.

    I think that can be said of editors as well. I’ve worked with editors so caught up in the “know” that when a writer goes, “my story angle is prolly better and more in tune for the topic.” The editor gets pedantic and what not;instead of bringing in the writer’s unique opinion with the editor’s opinion. It becomes this writer vs. editor thing.

  10. Kristen Avatar


    You should not just be relying on someone who helps out fellow writers by finding leads in her “spare” (haha) time. Successful writers are also go-getters who don’t sit back and wait for the leads to come to them!

    And back off on Deb. Geez.

  11. Virginia Avatar

    Quite right, Terreece. Deb does this because she’s a great human being, and she does it for free. I appreciate it tremendously, as well as the community support and advice. She (and everyone else here) deserves our applause, not whining.

  12. Omar Avatar

    You have to be self sufficient. Your the conductor of your life.

  13. ayesha Avatar

    yea! flexibility,perseverance and getting organized is what a freelancer needs the most.

  14. Veronica Shine Avatar

    Excellent advice. A professional in any field should be mature in manner, diplomatic when dealing with others, understand the guidelines that are expected from them and above all constantly learn and expand.

  15. Lauri Avatar

    I totally agree. One of my LEAST favorite qualities in a freelancer is self-entitlement, an expectation that they are owed anything. I truly believe that every job that you accept – that you accept – is a blessing and something to feel thankful for. If you don’t think it’s good enough for you – say no upfront. If you accept it, treat it with respect and feel lucky to have the work.

    I’ve built a very successful freelance business on this mantra. I do believe that clients can feel how much I value their projects, and reward me greatly in response.

  16. Elizabeth Avatar

    I completely agree with this article/comment. I posted something shorter and simpler like it last week…though I’m not sure it was every put up on the site…

  17. Alik Avatar

    Absolutely. I personally didn’t mind Deb taking a little time off, because we’re all allowed a break once in a while. Although I love FWJ and look to this blog for great leads every morning, this isn’t my ONLY source of leads; and if it’s your only source, then you have a big problem.

    If you are a freelance writer and don’t moonlight or have a second job, you shouldn’t be coming to this site, responding to the handful of leads that apply to you, and then go back to bed thinking you’re done for the morning. You should be looking at all lead sources possible, cold calling, emailing, doing your own marketing, etc. If one of your lead sources suddenly pauses or goes away, it shouldn’t stop your productivity.

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