Janice Hanna Thompson

Janice Hanna Thompson—a south Texas native—is the author of over sixty novels and non-fiction books for the Christian market. She supplements her fiction habit by writing magazine articles, devotions, write-for-hire books and more. One of the chief joys of Janice’s life is training writers to earn a living with the written word. Check out Janice’s “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer,” course at www.freelancewritingcourses.com. The ten lessons in this course were developed to strategically train freelance writers to earn top dollar. Each lesson includes an audio file (mp3 for download), a corresponding audio script, a downloadable worksheet, a power point video, a bonus feature, and full access to the site’s forum. Email Janice at booksbyjanice[at]aol[dot]com to learn more, or visit her website at www.janicehannathompson.com.

Freelancing Survivor Tips

Writing is my time machine, takes me to the precise time and place I belong.
                                                                                       —Jeb Dickerson

We’ve spent the last few months talking about ways to earn money with your writing. I want to take a little detour this month to give you a ten freelancing survivor tips.

The writer, especially the Christian freelance writer, leads a tough life: figuring out what’s trendy in the current market; learning the craft; writing, submitting, and being rejected. These are all a part of the package—and all with no promise of publication. No wonder so many get discouraged!

But keep in mind that you are writing because the Lord has called you to write. His gifts and His calling are without repentance. When you feel like you’re about to drown, remember that Jesus is the very best life preserver. Grab on to Him, and take a deep breath. He’ll get you through this!

Here are some of my thoughts on how to keep your head above water when the storm threatens to overwhelm you:

1. Timing: We can’t rush the hand of God. If you remember that this business is about His timing, you will relax when you face rejections and/or disappointments. Don’t let feelings of insecurity keep you from moving forward. Maybe you’ve written a great women’s fiction piece and this just isn’t the year for it. Go ahead and start the next project (if God lays it on your heart). Don’t be surprised if the second project sells first! I’ve actually seen this happen several times. And in the meantime, write those short pieces (articles, devotionals, write-for-hire pieces) that I talked about last month. Doing so will provide extra income until the book sells.

2. The Comparison Game: Don’t play the comparison game. Remember, you’re not writing to win the accolades of man. You’re not doing this to become famous (if so, check your motives). You’re certainly not doing this to become rich, especially if you’re writing in the CBA. The only person to compare yourself against is you. Ask yourself: “Did I write what God told me to write?” If you answer yes, then the rest is in His hands.

3. Don’t Go It Alone: Stay in communication with other writers, especially if you’re hoping to be published. I would strongly suggest you join a critique group, as well as other Christian writing organizations. Be careful how much you take on, though. Don’t overwhelm yourself with other people’s projects. I once was in two different critique groups (one fiction, one nonfiction). I had six other people to critique for each week (a chapter/week per person). By the time I finished critiquing their chapters, I had little time left over to do my own writing. I had to step away from one of the groups.

4. Keep a Schedule: This is especially important if you work outside the home, and it’s absolutely critical if you’re trying to sell short pieces while waiting on a novel to be published. Schedule/block your time. Here’s an example of what I did when my career was taking off: M/W/F, novels; T/TH, magazine articles. It worked well for me.

5. Get a Life: You have a life outside of writing. Don’t overlook the real people in your life (you know the ones—your spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends) to spend time with your characters. The primary way not to get in over your head is to do only the things you absolutely know God has given you to do. Pray about each one. Until you have a comfort level, don’t plow forward, even if your enthusiasm is high. There’s a certain amount of zeal/passion that goes along with writing that can be deadly. Be sure God is giving you His marching orders before you move forward.

6. Work During Your Peak: Check your body clock to see when your creativity time is. (Take your temperature every two hours over a twenty-four-hour period. Theory is that you’re the most creative when your temperature is the highest.) Work during your “peak” time and your productivity will rise! Remember to get an adequate amount of sleep.

7. Keep in Balance by Learning to Say No: Like all other writers, you need to learn to say the word no (even to some things you might want to do, like going to the mall or lunch with a friend). Remember, no isn’t a negative word. And people will eventually figure out that you’re not joking when you say, “Yes, I really am working. It just looks like I’m playing on the computer.” A friend of mine has a unique way to let others know when she’s working and doesn’t want to be disturbed. She sets a timer, then lights a candle. If her family members/friends see the candle burning, they realize this isn’t a good time to bother her. When the timer goes off, she blows out the candle. (You’ll soon figure out how long it takes you to write an article, devotional, or blog entry and can adjust your timer accordingly.)

8. Watch How You View Yourself: You are a child of the King. Remember this! Don’t spend time putting yourself down. God created us with unique gifts and abilities. Celebrate your individuality.

9. Stay Organized: Organize your files on your computer so that they’re easily accessible. Back up your hard drive to a flash drive and/or the Web. Keep your house organized. It’s good to know where everything is (print cartridges, paper, pens, books, etc.). Keep a spreadsheet of all the articles you submit, and track the ones you have sold. Be sure to notate first rights, reprint rights, or all rights.

10. Physical comfort: Write at a place that is (physically) the best for you. Guard your hands. I would suggest visiting Kathy Ide’s Website to sign up for her Typing without Pain course. You will find it at www.thechristianpen.com. Make sure you have the right chair, keyboard, posture, and position as you write.

That’s it for this month! You can do this, my freelancing friend! If you’re organized, balanced, and motivated, you really can bring in extra money with your writing.