Wake Me Up When December Ends

The Freelance Writer’s Journey, Chapter 12

There are two kinds of tired.

Well actually, there are multiple kinds of tired. A quick look at the thesaurus yields: Exhausted, fatigued, lethargic, sleepy, annoyed, drained, and overworked, to name a few.

But what I’m saying is there’s a “tired” that comes from a lack of sleep, or too much sleep, or laziness, or a big meal, or boredom, or time spent procrastinating. That’s a negative kind of tired.

However, there’s a positive kind of “tired.” It’s the feeling that comes when you expend energy doing the right things, putting in the work, staying on the job all day, and producing something worthwhile. 

I often felt this kind of tired after days helping to build fences in Cambodia, so that orphan homes could legitimize their property claim with their government. But I also feel it after this week, having done a ton of good schoolwork and well, work.

That and the seasonal affectiveness.

Because of seasonal affectiveness, and the fact that I’ve been in school for the past 20 years straight (and school finals always occur right about now), the first half of December is my least favorite time of the year.

But because my birthday comes halfway through the month, then school gets out, then Christmas comes, the second half of December is my most favorite time of the year. Go figure.

This post is coming at you a week late because I didn’t want to write up a blog post on Thanksgiving weekend. Can you blame me?

Wins In Weeks 12 and 13:

This week (Week 13)  I worked a ton. Things were slower during weeks 11 and 12, but they kicked right back into gear for this week. I am always reorienting my calendar to maximize my energy levels, and this is the first time in a while that I have maintained the same calendar structure for more than 2 weeks.

Also, the goal of a freelance writer is to add immense value to their client’s business or project. In fact, we want to add exponentially more value to the business than they pay us, so that our skills are a worthwhile investment for them.

While I want to do that (and hope I do that) for every client, this week I got to see a couple of tangible ways I added value. I got to see a couple of websites that I helped with go live. I also heard a few kind words from people, that the work I do for them is helping out a ton. That’s always nice to hear.

Challenges in Weeks 12 and 13:

I did far less work than I wanted to during Week 12. Of course, some of it couldn’t be helped due to Thanksgiving Day. But other parts were just me wasting time. 

Another challenge this week came in the form of a gigantic term paper hanging over my head. It’s funny, I literally write for a living all day and then freeze when it comes time to write for school. It’s not as though I’m incapable; It’s just a matter of motivation. 

It’s like someone who works at a kitchen all day not wanting to cook once they get home. Or, when I worked retail at a clothing store, it made me hate hanging up my own clothes.

I also lost out on a potentially lucrative opportunity because my writing wasn’t what the prospective client wanted. This is the second time it has happened, and it definitely got easier to hear this time around. 

Still, it requires me to humbly absorb critique and dedicate myself to get better. Writers are vulnerable about their writing like singers are vulnerable about their voices, but the only way to get better is through examining our flaws.

Preoccupations In Weeks 12 and 13:

I thankfully got to think a ton about my family during the past couple of weeks. Getting to go back “home” (which is literally just 30 minutes by car from where I currently sit) for Thanksgiving felt wonderful. So did cutting down my first full-size Christmas tree along with siblings, nieces, and nephews.

The other preoccupation has been, of course, school. It’s officially finals season. Who thought it was a good idea to schedule finals during the darkest, coldest time of the year anyway?

I suppose it’s so I can be free in July.

Final Note:

Today I found the notes I wrote about Do The Work by Steven Pressfield, where he tells the would-be writer or business person how to finish a project.

He mentioned that you should write out the story of your project, or book, or what-have-you into three acts. And then of course, to start moving on Act 1 before you feel ready. My project was launching this freelance writing service.

My Act 1 was “Generate leads using any means necessary until you have an uncomfortably heavy load of work, as if your freedom depends on it. Because it does.”

My Act 2 was “Do whatever it takes to serve your clients well, with ruthless efficiency, and compassion for yourself.”

My Act 3 was “Retain, expand, network, improve, and structure.”

I’m happy to say that I made it to Act 3, even though back when I wrote the Acts out, I wasn’t sure I was going to get past Act 1.

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