How to Eliminate All Your Freelance Writing Obstacles — With a Simple List

Carol Tice

When you think about trying to grow your freelance writing income, does it seem overwhelming? Just too hard?

Do there seem to be daunting obstacles in your way?

I’m going to show you how to remove them all.

For you to understand my solution, I must begin with a Jewish folk tale from the Old Country — for me, eastern Europe.

Once there was a large extended family living in poverty on a tiny farm plot. The father felt he was losing his mind.  His life was just too difficult! His children were always crying. His mother-in-law was constantly complaining. His tiny house was always so noisy and chaotic.

Life was horrible.

So he went to the rabbi, and explained his plight. His rabbi hesitated not a moment before advising him:

Bring your chicken into the house.

The man tried this immediately. Now, things were worse! The chickens pecked at him, there was even less room…now he was really miserable.

Complaining to the rabbi,  he was advised to bring his goat into the house, with similar results. Then his cow as well.

By now, as you might imagine, things were truly wretched. He went back to the rabbi one last time. And the rabbi said:

“Now, take all the animals out of your house.”

The man complied with haste. Immediately, he realized life was wonderful! With no one but his family in the house, things were relatively peaceful again.

Of course, things were exactly the way they were in the beginning, when he was miserable. What was different?

Get a perspective on your problems

The key to eliminating your obstacles is to change your attitude.

Instead of thinking about all of the reasons pursuing a freelance writing career is difficult for you, consider all you’ve got going for you.

Adopt an attitude of gratitude for all you have. If you think this won’t make a huge difference in the energy and self-confidence you bring to freelancing, I challenge you to give this a try.

For instance:

Are you able to use all your fingers to type? I know a gifted woman writer, as well as a kick-ass brilliant blogger, who don’t enjoy that advantage. Yet they have productive, successful writing careers. They have managed to overcome this formidable obstacle.

All your family members safe at home? I know a wonderful writer who copes with being a single mom because her spouse is in jail. She’s still out trying to hustle up freelance gigs.

Have access to modern healthcare? Consider the millions who must work sick because they don’t.

Feeling down? Make a gratitude list.

I find making this list never fails to cheer me up. A few of the items I’ve put on it over the years:

Both my parents are still living.

My house is not in the path of a lahar (sudden, deathly volcanic mudflow), like some in my region.

I live in a beautiful part of the world.

All of my children are healthy.

My spouse is not deployed on a submarine or aircraft carrier for six months at a time.

Because I have loose change in my home that I don’t need to immediately spend to feed my family, I know I am among the richest people on earth.

Hopefully, my examples above have given you a little fodder for your gratitude list. Can’t wait to hear what’s on it.

What’s on your gratitude list? Leave a comment and let us know.


  1. Jean

    Just in time for Thanksgiving! Be thankful for what you have. I’ve never, ever thought of writing such a list.. I think I’ll start.

    I have a mother who loves me and supports whatever I decide to pursue.

    I’m relatively healthy, and have not caught a cold in years.

    I live rent-free with my in-laws for the moment.

    I have no children to worry about.

    My debt isn’t nearly as high as the national average, and I can pay it all off in a few years.

    I eat well every day, and never feel deprived.

    Wow, I guess I do have a lot going for me! I took these things for granted and only compared myself to those with different lists. Thanks!

    • Carol Tice

      You’re welcome!

      When I was in a really dark period in my life, the years when we were trying to adopt kids, I used to read and add to my list every day. Really helped me cope and stay centered, and remember how much I already had.

  2. Karen

    “Because I have loose change in my home that I don’t need to immediately spend to feed my family, I know I am among the richest people on earth.”

    Food for thought indeed, especially at a time of year when many people get depressed that they can’t really afford every one of those $100 (+) gadgets the kids have on their holiday gift list 🙂

    • Carol Tice

      It’s a true fact that few people in the US probably think about — but in most households in the world, if you had a handful of change you would go to the market immediately, buy food, and feed it to your family. Because they’re hungry. And some of THOSE people are writers. We really do have all the advantages, but never realize it.

      Rabbi Rachel Naomi Remen says our blessings are so many they are always like stacked up airplanes at the airport, circling and circling and waiting to land in our consciousness, where we notice them. We just don’t see them.

  3. Elizabeth

    I had to do this yesterday because I was down in the dumps for some reason.

    – I have 3 amazing boys. (also the source of my anxiety and craziness but let’s get real – they are amazing.)
    – I have the world’s best husband.
    – I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for probably 10 years.
    – My home is safe and happy.
    – My career change is going very well and I’ve been lucky enough to find amazing supportive resources online like this one.

    Thanks Carol.

  4. Linda

    Thanks for this post! How timely for me and it sounds like others too. And such a great way to start the day out with a list.

    1) Being a writer makes it possible for me to work from home with nothing but as phone and a computer.
    2) I have an awesome network of friends and support people.
    3) We have a really low mortgage payment.
    4) I’m going to England in January.
    5) My mate loves me unconditionally warts and all.
    6) I’m getting a new washer and dryer after two years of going to laundromats. (But I was surprising grateful that there was a big laundromat close to home with dryers that actually work!)
    7) I have reconciled with my sister after years of an rocky relationship.

  5. Sue

    This is the start of my list:

    We live in a safe and clean country.
    We own a home in the country on a large and peaceful piece of land.
    We didn’t suffer too much because of the recession, husband didn’t get laid off like many others did.
    I am healthy other than having a bum knee right now.
    Our mortgage is paid off.
    We have two healthy sons who are happy and out doing their own thing.

    Reading this makes me feel inspired to write my list on what I need to do to improve my writing business. Off to get that going!
    Thanks Carol

    • Cynthia Rosi

      Hi Carol –

      I love gratitude practices because they absolutely work to change our lives. I also make a point to be grateful every time I receive a new client or have an article published, no matter what. I feel so blessed to be able to earn my living as a writer. It’s taken courage, tenacity, the willingness to risk, and a ton of gratitude.

      Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Carol. I am grateful for you!

  6. dava

    I’ve been writing grateful lists for a few years now. At first I’d write one and email it to a random friend in my contacts list. Then I started posting one every now and then on Facebook. Without really thinking about it, I didn’t write one for a couple of months, and a few people got in touch to say they missed my lists – giving me something else to be grateful for. Some of my past list items:
    I struggle with weight – what a wonderful problem to have – too much to eat!
    My roof leaks, but it’s MY roof.
    My children have become kind, generous, responsible people.

    I loved the folk tale, too. Nice intro to the post.

    • Carol Tice

      That tale has been told in many versions, and one of its titles is, “It Could Always Be Worse.” We just don’t think of that enough!

  7. Oscar Halpert

    Wonderful story and great advice again.

    • Carol Tice

      But where’s your list, Oscar?

  8. Debra Stang

    Hi Carol,

    This is a great idea, and I loved your story about the man and his crowded house. I think sometimes I just don’t realize everything I do have going for me. Things I’m grateful for:

    1. My parents, my sisters, my nieces and nephews – all in good health
    2. My friends who have stood at my side through thick and thin
    3. My cats who always seem to know when I need a cuddle
    4. My writing ability
    5. My creativity
    6. My love of books (and my access to great bookstores and libraries)
    7. The fact that my time management skills are improving every day
    8. My sense of humor – I don’t know how people get through life if they can’t laugh at themselves
    9. A relatively stable financial situation
    10. My persistence/stubornness – when people say I can’t, I feel compelled to prove them wrong

  9. Steve


    Nice post;

    I am thankful for:

    1) Still being alive after suffering a heart attack 15 years ago
    2) Clients return again and again, needing writing from me
    3) I have a wife and daughter who believe in me
    4) God never gives up on me


  10. Ahlam

    Right on point Carol! Realizing just how blessed I am even when I’m down really pushes me forward.-

    –Although I’ve lost much in life, I have an amazing husband and beautiful children
    –I’m very grateful for my writing which has been an escape for me since childhood and will eventually become my peace in adulthood (I believe in this!)
    –I’m very grateful for warm days at the park and cold days -perfect for putting together puzzles with the kids 🙂
    — Grateful for the call I’m about to take 😉

  11. Madeleine Kolb

    I too have a lot of things to be thankful for, including:

    1. Knowing how to manage type 2 diabetes to avoid long-term damage. I’ve been doing it for years and without medication.
    2. Seeing how energetic and passionate about her work my grown daughter has become. And how thoughtful. Her Christmas request is for recipes of yummy things–like my rhubard pie and something we always called “puffy chicken”–which I cooked when she was growing up.
    3. Excellent, affordable health-care.
    4. Decades of relevant experience which will help me launch a freelance writing career.
    5. Inspirational and helpful support from so many friends and colleagues in Toastmasters International and on the Net, including this group.
    6. A wonderful relationship with a man I met 6 years ago in Seattle and followed to southern Maryland.
    7. The natural world. When I was igrowing up inSeattle, I never saw bald eagles, and now they’ve come back.

    Happy thanksgiving to all!

  12. Tiffany Barry

    This was such an inspiring post!

    Here is my gratitude list:

    I was blessed with a natural writing talent.

    I am capable of working and putting a roof over our heads and food in our bellies.

    My daughter has never known true childhood hunger as I did.

    My husband is the most selfless person I know, and he inspires me every day.

    We live in a nice area with good schools and a strong sense of community.

    Our families live, for the most part, very close to us.

    I love my job, my life, and all the future holds.

    Thank you for reminding us that while there are certainly ups and downs to working in the freelance writing world, there is so much to be grateful for!

  13. Katherine Swarts

    I know of some people who have broken the grumbling habit by making a rule of listing five positives every time a negative leaps to mind. E. g.:

    Negative: I’m already running behind schedule and my computer freezes up.

    Positives: I have a computer.
    I have electricity to run the computer.
    I have access to nearby wireless and alternate computer sources.
    I am literate.
    I have access to an incredible amount of information and advice.

    –And, I second (third?) the “I have spare change so I am rich” comment.

  14. LA Reddon

    I’m so grateful my husband and I split up when we did! Otherwise, I wouldn’t have moved back to my hometown to recover and sort myself out. Within weeks of my homecoming, my Mom was diagnosed with cancer and Dad’s emphysema worsened. Miraculously, I was right there when I should have been busy with my own life 100 miles away!

    My brother and I provided 24/7 homecare for 2-1/2 years until they both passed. It was the biggest challenge and greatest blessing of my life. I wouldn’t trade those precious last years with my folks for anything.

    Sometimes we’re pawns on God’s chessboard, moved into position by a strategy we can’t see or understand until late in the game, if ever. Now I know why things unfolded as they did. And I couldn’t be more thankful.

  15. Carol Tice

    I am grateful for the opportunity to read so many of my readers wonderful gratitude lists! Keep ’em coming.

  16. Ruth - Freelance Writing Blog

    Everyone is entitled to feel down now and then, but to me, the key to success is using your setbacks and challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. That’s what life is about.

    I have gained great perspective from Jewish tradition so I especially appreciate your parable. A similar one my Rabbi once shared – if every person stood on the beach and tossed their problems into the ocean, and then as the problems washed ashore they were expected to pick up those that landed at their feet as their own, they would be wishing for their original set of problems. Everything is indeed relative.

    I’m grateful for my supportive husband, my incredible children, my health, my daily yoga practice, and the flexibility and joy in my work.

    • Carol Tice

      Thanks for adding another great story!

  17. Tom Bentley

    Carol, powerful post. My list:

    * I have an imagination, and it’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve received
    * My family members laugh at my jokes and not at my clothes
    * I can still jump, run, shout and squeal
    * For the most part, for much of my life, people have been kind to me
    * I have loved and been loved
    * I am right now staying in the Bahamas, and though it’s been a truly weird experience, it’s beautiful

    • Carol Tice

      Nice, Tom! I definitely haven’t gotten to travel as much as I’d like.

  18. June

    Thank you so much for this article. It’s helped me to put things in perspective. I’ve been procrastinating for months now about starting my freelance writing. People have told me that I’m a good writer, yet I don’t have faith in myself.

    Here is my list:

    • I have the ability to write, so I will stop beating myself up and start submitting articles.
    • My daughter’s dad died 11 years ago but I am blessed to have her in my life.
    • Being a single mother is tough but it’s taught me many positive lessons that have strengthened me.
    • I may not have a lot of money but I’m blessed with good health and a roof over my head.
    • I’ve got a wonderful family and friends and I love them so much.
    • I’m glad that I subscribed to this blog because I have gained so much knowledge from the articles. Thank you once more Carol.

  19. Charlotte Rains Dixon

    I’m a huge believer in lists of all sorts, including to-do lists, without which I couldn’t live, and lists in my journal when I don’t have time to write a full entry. And, yes, gratitude lists, too! Here’s mine:

    1. My family, and that most of us all live in the same city
    2. The fact that my family all enjoys spending time together!
    3. My good health.
    4. The fact that I have the great good fortune to be a writer.
    5. My students and clients
    6. My colleagues
    7. All the wonderful bloggers I love to read
    8. A cozy house to live in
    9. My two fat cats and one pug

    I think that’s enough for now. Thanks for the chance to list them!

  20. Sondi

    This is a great post! I’m grateful for:

    – my loving husband, supportive family and friends
    – wholesome, nutritious food and clean water
    – the roof over my head
    – my body, which allows me to be here in the world
    – my ability to read and write
    – the opportunity to pursue my passions

  21. Krissy Brady, Writer

    What an uplifting post! I’m thankful for a lot of things:

    1) My parents totally rock, and have always let me be weird little me, lol!
    2) My family is very complex and intense in the best way possible–they are amazing people, and because of them I will never run out of amazing characters for my future novels and screenplays.
    3) I have a roof over my head, and food in the fridge, and an endless supply of coffee.
    4) I work at home, and am most thankful for the fact that I can make my transition to writing on my terms.
    5) I have a very supportive boyfriend who never makes me feel guilty about how much I work.

    There’s much more, but I would end up with carpul tunnel typing it all, lol!

  22. Debbie Schumacher

    I started a gratitude journal on facebook the end of August, stopped contributing this week, and find I really miss it as it kept me grounded every day- thanks so much for this post to remind of my promise to myself to find something to be grateful for everyday.
    I have no job, but the potential for self employment and self fulfillment is available to me.
    I have no income, but I know that God provides for His own.
    I have my family
    I have my health
    I have friends
    How dare I want more than the basics.

  23. CorinneC

    Great post! thanks for sharing! And keep up the good work!

  24. Carol J. Alexander

    Thanks for a great post. I’m constantly reminding myself that if you took away all the things that compete with my writing time and prevent me from getting more done, you would be taking away the very things I write about–children, homeschooling, gardening, etc. So I have to be thankful for them and nourish them before I nourish my writing career.

    I’ve been posting on my Facebook fan page everyday for the month of November the things that I’m thankful for. This is my second year doing this Giving Thanks Challenge and it is positively therapeutic.

    So far my list includes husband, son, family, friends, church, homeschool group, technology, work, and other things.

  25. Ali

    WOW! I knew Jon Morrow… but I didn’t know he is disabled 🙁 He is simply amazing…
    And about the gratitude list, I would replace 4 and 5 with:
    ” I’m happily unmarried 😀 “

      • Ali

        After reading this story I am a fan of his mother too.
        You know Carol! I have a nephew in the UK…. he is also disabled (he cant even talk or listen) …. I sent that post to my bro and sister-in-law.

      • Linda

        Man o’ man. One of the best things I’ve read — ever. Thanks for posting. I did know that Jon had a medical/physical challenge, but the blog post really makes it all real.

        • Carol Tice

          Wow, thanks!

  26. Miguel Leiva-Gomez

    This really took me by surprise. I was just realizing how my life could have been so much worse and I would have not married my wife! 😀

  27. Thea Easterby

    Hi Carol

    Just loved this post. It’s always powerful when we focus on all of the amazing things we do have. Really puts things in perspective.

    Thanks for reminding us to be grateful. A big thanks to Ruth for sharing her rabbi story as well, lot of truth in that one.


  28. Eve Gumpel


    I’m grateful I’ve got you on my side. At your suggestion, I’ve been networking a lot and, while nothing’s landed yet, I’m seeing a lot of potential. I’m doing my best to stay positive and not worry about present lack of income (another thing to be grateful for: I have a relatively healthy bank account, so I’m not desperate).

    • Miguel Leiva-Gomez

      Good luck, Eve! I’ll have my fingers crossed for you. I know how it feels, as I’m going through the same thing. Desperate doesn’t mean that you’re at least a little concerned about the future. 🙂

  29. Geoffroy Hauppier

    I am grateful for every single breath I take because I know it is the most valuable asset I have. Without that breath, I am no more. Yet I know some day that breath will be taken away from me. In the meantime, I thoroughly enjoy the little I have, the little I do and the little I am.

    Thank you for the insight.


  30. james

    Just discovered your blog after searching Google for making money freelancing. Something to that effect. I don’t remember the exact keyword search. You’re a good storyteller. Ever try your hand at fiction? I mean something longer than a parable…

  31. Rich

    Very inspiring idea! Gratitude is very important. I’ve been published only a few times in magazines. But, I’m grateful. Mostly, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be alive while sending in SASE’s and emailed queries. I can imagine much worse to burden besides licking a few stamps and wounds from a few no’s.

  32. Tiffany

    This is a good reminder. I appreciate this post a lot. I do have a lot to be grateful for.

    I have a mother who is very supportive and understanding of me, no matter what I do in life.

    I have a daughter who is healthy, precocious, beautiful, and brilliant.

    I have a natural talent for writing.

    I live in a country with a solid, stable infrastructure. I have clean running water and constant electricity. Something that I can easily take for granted, but I have friends on the other side of the world who struggle to get these things every day.

    I never go hungry.

    I have the freedom to work online because there are businesses and clients in my country who have need of my services.

    My choices in life aren’t limited by my class, ethnicity, or socioeconomic place in the world. I live in a country where I can do or be whatever I want. I think of the caste system in India and it makes me very grateful to be American.

    I am overall a healthy person with no major physical challenges.

    I have good-hearted friends who encourage me and believe in me.

    • Carol Tice

      Thanks for adding your wonderful list, Tiffany. Sounds like you have a lot going for you! And the wisdom to recognize that.

      I have made friends all over the world now through this blog, and it does give you a fresh perspective on how good we have it in many ways here in the USA. Cost of living is high, but we get a lot for it.

      My own teen is very ill right now, so the blessing of health is at the forefront of my mind, too.

  33. Catherine Lugo

    I have a great life because I have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
    I have a great husband.
    I have a great family.
    I have great kids.
    I have true friends.
    I am healthy.
    My family is healthy.
    I have some writing experience under my belt.
    I have a good education.

  34. Valerie

    I’ve kept a gratitude journal off and on for several years. What is so revealing to me this morning is that I should apply this to my writing. This post was exactly what I needed to read, but in the responses I see myself over and over again. It’s inspiring to find so many other writers who I feel have so much in common.
    I am grateful:
    1. that I woke up breathing, walking, secure and loved. I am able to write and work.
    2. that I have a laptop, Internet, story ideas and possible markets.
    3. that I have emotional support from my family. No one here makes fun of what I do.
    4. that I have most of my needs met, so it’s OK to have a lower income if I want to focus on craft.
    5. that I have space and time and room to write.

  35. Kimberly

    Hi Carol,

    I am alive!

    I have love in my life. Friends and family, a wonderful husband and glorious healthy vibrant children. We all love a spoilt old red cattle dog named Ruff.

    I have humour in my life. Hubby named the dog Ruff. The dog runs out the front door barking when strangers or the mail man walks by. The kids (and I have been caught out with it too) run out the door after the dog calling her name….I’m sure the people in our neighbourhood think we are all demented. 🙂 Laugh Out Loud! Ruff…Ruff

    I have a roof over my head, clean water, food in my tummy, clothes on my back and government provided health care.

    There is no war, famine, poverty or disease in my country.

    Just like the “tale from the old country”…there are others much worse off than me and situations that could be much worse than they already are.

    The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence and I am grateful for what I have.

    • Carol Tice

      Nice list Kim!

  36. Angela

    This is such a great exercise because it can be so easy to get bogged down with the negative things and frustrations–not only in the writing business but in general. My gratitude list:

    1. I’m marrying the love of my life at the end of this July 🙂
    2. Both of us are in excellent health.
    3. We live in a city we enjoy.
    4. Both of us are college-educated
    5. I (along with the rest of us on this blog) have a strong skill set–writing–that not every last person on the street can claim.
    6. The two of us are very fortunate not to live paycheck-to-paycheck, not rich but not close to the bone either.
    7. I’m able to learn new things fairly quickly and adapt to new ways of doing things.
    8. I’m very lucky to have been born when I was and not in the less-enlightened past.

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Angela —

      Great list!

      I too frequently marvel at our good fortune in living in this era. My husband and I would both be dead without modern medical intervention, and of course none of us could reach a global audience online before just a few years ago.

  37. Melinda Prophetall

    I am grateful I have met so many amazing people
    Grateful I have been exposed to some of the finer things such as the sacred secret of neighborly love. I am grateful that when each one relizes that they would rather die than have another starve to death, world hunger is an abyssed demon.
    I am grateful for life force without it sleep would be so heavy. I am greatful when conversations build up. I am greatful to seek for hid treasure, to value this free opportunity to pick a cause instead of the cause picks and slaves me. I am grateful for the reader, the writer and writings and the ones wanting good news, the ones making good news, the ones thinking good news, and the ones who realize paradise is the option. I am grateful to express these words. I am grateful for my God Jehovah and the family and friends he has allowed me to travel through time with. Thanks to those who ask the questions, and those who look for answers.

  38. Karen Karper Fredette

    I always believe in the value of Gratitude and devote one of the last days of each year to counting my blessings. This year #1 is the tenderness of my beloved husband as I struggle to break my dependence on oxycodone (to control fibromyalgia). #2 That my sweet man has survived a year that would have broken the spirit of a lesser man. #3 We have been able to pay our bills as they come. #4 That I am a gifted writer (five books; 100 plus published articles, stories etc. since 1969) #5 That at 72 I have given myself permission to write short fiction – which is pure delight! Winning the Gold Medal in our state (North Carolina) in the Silver Arts competition only confirms that I AM good! #6 I have a great Writing Buddy. #7 That I will begin earning the money I deserve for my writing. Enuf for now. Thanks for asking! Karen

  39. Tony Fireman

    I am new to the den and glad to be here. As for my gratitude list, here it is:

    1. I have an incredibly supportive wife
    2. Two fabulous kids
    3. Amazing home
    4. I’m not a rebel in Syria
    5. I’m poor, hence, I am ready to get my writing career going
    6. My black lab. She’s so chill (my father-in-law thinks she’s on drugs)
    7. I have an iPad I can write with
    8. I am close to the “self actualization” stage on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.


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