In an ideal world, freelance writers have all the time they need to research, write, and edit each piece they produce to perfection. After all, your clients don’t pay you good money to write half-baked and fluff-filled content, do they?
Obviously, we don’t live in an ideal world.
We live in a world where deadlines—self-imposed or otherwise—constantly hang above our heads, yet we’re still expected to produce top-notch articles, blog posts, press releases and what-have-you within those deadlines. As professionals who must juggle our work with our personal lives, we’re often forced to choose between submitting our copy on time at the expense of quality, and vice versa.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. While aiming for “perfect” copy every time is unrealistic, you can strive to consistently produce copy good enough to be displayed in your portfolio. Based on my experience working for clients who set regular deadlines, this is how you do that.
Create an Idea File
When you spend most of your time in front of a computer, your best source of ideas is the Internet. Take a few minutes to read as much material over the web as you can. Be on the lookout for interesting stories you can reference in your upcoming articles, and file them away in your preferred note-taking platform.
Personally, I use MS Office OneNote because it’s easy to organize and you don’t have to click “Save As” every time, but your mileage may vary. (I know OneNote is old-fashioned, but it works for me, so there you are.)
You can also set up Google Alerts to deliver relevant content to your inbox as you wish, or step away from your computer and gather ideas from other sources!
Plan Your Writing
The “right” writing schedule varies from writer to writer, and depends on the answers to the following questions:
- How many x-word articles can you finish in one day?
- What time of the day do you work best?
- How much time can you set aside in a working day for emergencies and the like?
As for me, I plan my writing at least one week ahead. I take a good look at my assignments, and decide how many of them I can do per day from Monday to Friday. I also do some preliminary research, so I can take notes and not end up agonizing for hours once I sit down to work on the articles.
Write First, Edit Later
If you’re like me, you have a particularly loud “inner editor.” The inner editor can’t help but jar your thoughts as you accidentally misspell a word, or when you end up typing an awkwardly phrased sentence.
It’s okay to listen to your inner editor…once you’re done writing. Otherwise, write your first draft as fast as you can based on your notes and ideas. Resist the urge to pause and look at what you’ve just written. When you reach the end of your piece, that’s the time you can ruthlessly correct misspellings, tweak sentence structures, adjust the flow of your thoughts, etc. In my experience, this is faster than the editing-as-you-along method.
Take Time to Relax
Churning out several articles a day can take its toll on your well-being, so it’s important to give yourself a break once in a while. Use your breaks to nibble on some snacks, drink some water, and recharge yourself for another assignment!
Remember: Burnout is a writer’s worst enemy. Avoid, or at least minimize, it at all costs.
Get Better-Paying Gigs
If you’re writing five or more articles a day and you’re still not making enough money to earn a living, maybe it’s time to re-assess whether your current gigs are worth it. Look for clients who pay more for the same amount of work you’re doing right now, and do your best to impress them. That way, you’ll have more time to write and polish your articles, and more time to enjoy life!
I’m sure that this is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you have any more tips on increasing productivity without sacrificing the quality of your work, feel free to share them in the comments section.
About the author:
Issa Mirandilla is a freelance writer based in the Philippines. She believes that no knowledge is ever truly wasted, and that a good cup of coffee always helps. You can read her work on Clippings.me.
Also by Issa Mirandilla:
1. How to Get Higher Rates if You’re a Freelance Writer from a Third-World Country (article)