Freelance Writers: What’s Keeping You Up at Night? (Contest)

Carol Tice

When you think about your freelance writing goals for 2012, do you feel excited? Terrified? Worried you won’t be able to earn enough?

Today’s your day to tell me about it.

I’d really like to know: What are the biggest problems you face today?

What obstacles are keeping you from earning what you want as a freelance writer?

These are the questions on my mind as I get ready to put on my Freelance Writer’s Blast-Off class again, the small-group coaching course I teach with Linda Formichelli of The Renegade Writer.

We’ve made some changes to the Blast-Off to include more one-on-one consulting in the program, which we hope will make it more effective than ever.

But I want to make sure the class covers exactly what writers need to know to be successful in 2012.

So tell me — what’s keeping you up at night?

Just to make it a little more interesting, the most fascinating answer wins a ticket to the Blast-Off class’s Participation level — a $197 value. I’ll name the winner Monday.

Worried about how to jump-start your freelance writing career? Check out the revamped Freelance Writer’s Blast-Off class — it’s got three different ways to participate. Registration closes Monday and class begins Jan. 24 — check out the course outline here.


  1. Joey Dalaba

    Where to start? I find myself wondering where and how to start. Although I’ve been a writer my whole life, I honestly never knew I could make a living selling my words. Now that it’s a possibility, I’m frozen in the headlights.

    • Carol Tice

      My answer is: Somewhere.

      The important thing is to jump in — see Linda Formichelli’s guest post right behind this one about using the Ready, Fire, Aim method instead of ready aim aim aim aim fire.

      Pick a likely market niche and start pitching. You won’t start learning about how to find your best paying markets until you start experimenting and putting it out there to see where the universe responds.

      Best of luck with it, and thanks for starting off my contest!

  2. Jane

    What keeps me up at night is my racing mind. I have found that trying to get ahead of my inspiration is literally trying to put the cart before the horse. I am learning to listen to that deep down instinct, and to trust that it guides me best. Patience has never been easy for me, so it’s an ongoing challenge. An additional benefit of waiting for that inner voice to kick in, is that I can usually tell what is productive for me and what is just a time waster.

    • Carol Tice

      I have the wheels-keep-turning problem, too. I try to jot down a few notes about what I want to get to tomorrow before bed, or even before leaving the office, and then that reassures me that it won’t be forgotten tomorrow, and I can rest.

  3. Alex

    Stepping out of my comfort zone is a big challenge for me. I need to be brave and tackle those scary, well paid markets!

    • Carol Tice

      All that can happen is they might say yes.

  4. Vicki

    FEAR keeps me up at night. Fear of failure, fear of success… of finally moving forward with my writing goals and being in charge of my own career. Sometimes I’m paralyzed by this fear, which is not a good thing. I’m working through it but every day is a challenge.

    • Linda Formichelli

      have you ever read Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway? People who do scary things don’t feel no fear — they feel it and do the scary thing anyway!

      • Rob F.

        Sorry to butt in, but funny you should mention that book – I bought it ages ago on the recommendation of a therapist! I think the biggest problem I have with it is that I haven’t read it in ages…

  5. Lacey Wilcox

    You mean besides drinking one too many cups of coffee, and a baby girl who thinks it’s still fun to wake her mommy every few hours?? 🙂
    Seriously though, for me, the answer to this question would be “what am I doing wrong?” What do I need to do to get myself off the ground, and actually start making a living writing.

    • Linda Formichelli

      I’m with ya — my 3-year-old has suddenly decided he like getting up before 6 am.

      As for what you’re doing wrong — the best way to find out is to get your work out there and learn from the response. Acceptances and nice “no thanks but pitch again” letters? You’re on the right track. Form rejections? You may need to tweak your ideas or your pitching.

  6. Christina

    What keeps me up at night is figuring out how to break into larger markets. I’m so thankful that I’ve developed a strong relationship with local editors, and I’m getting steady freelance work, but I’d love to find higher paying jobs. Another thing that keeps me up is the issue of time. If I got higher paying jobs then I could make more money without giving away my entire life to work – I want to balance my writing career with being a wife and mother who is available to her family.

    • Linda Formichelli

      So are you pitching the better-paying mags or still thinking about it? Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith…turn down a few of the lower-paying assignments so you have time to reach for your goals. I always find that better work comes in to fill the void.

  7. Debra Stang

    I get really stressed out by time management issues, especially if I know I have a lot on my plate for the next day.


  8. Josh Sarz

    What keeps me up at night (literally) is people will like what I wrote. Will they just throw away my query? Send it to spam? Share it to their friends as “The Worst Writing Ever Done By Man”?

  9. Tania Dakka

    Where to begin? The list of pandamonium that keeps me up at night ranges from getting started to knowing which direction I want to go. I thought I had a foothold on the platform thing, but now, I don’t know. The fear of wondering if I’ve wasted/am wasting my time freezes all. Should I make freelancing my platform and scrap the last three months of work? AUGH! Help!

    • Carol Tice

      If you’re enjoying what you’re writing and learning from it, it’s never a waste of time. It’s always making you a better writer.

      If you want a website review, I do 2-3 of those a week for members of Freelance Writers Den, and you get 1 month free with the top two levels of the Blast Off class…so you might want to check that out.

      • Tania Dakka

        I will definitely check it out…thanks so much for the info:)!

  10. Jen

    Focus is definitely my biggest challenge. There are so many interesting areas of freelance writing to get into, and I like variety in my work. But I get overwhelmed by all of the options, and my mind starts to feel scattered and tired. On a more sporadic basis, when I have a lack of ideas it stresses me out, especially when I get positive rejections from editors. I feel the pressure to send in another idea before I fall out of their minds – and I never seem to be able to do so fast enough.

    Thanks so much for offering this contest.

    • Carol Tice

      Having a ton of story ideas up your sleeve is really key…I keep lists and lists of them so that if I get one of those “Not this one, thanks, but try us again” kind of responses I’m ready to fire right back.

      Run more Google Alerts and scan for ideas — I keep a cache of them in email on key topics I write about so I can dive in and find a few angles if I need them fast.

      You should be very encouraged that you’re getting those kind of responses…means you’re in the ballpark and getting closer!

    • Katherine Swarts

      I hear you–half my own work schedule is run by the fear of not being able to strike before the iron cools down.

  11. Stephanie Smith

    Beyond worries like getting paid MONTHS down the line (they want to pay on publication?) and my inability to settle on a direction and just do something, one of my biggies is ‘will I ever be able to go to the dentist again?’

    I’m scared that I won’t make enough money to pay for the benefits I get at my full-time job, mainly reasonably-priced health insurance and an employer that covers a lot of the taxes!

    • Carol Tice

      Yeah. Health insurance will NOT be reasonably priced when you get it on your own. But you can get it — I’ve self-insured for 6 years now. You do need to budget earning more to cover it. But I hate that the healthcare issue stops anybody who wants to freelance from doing it.

      And that ‘pay on publication’ thing…I try to not have more than one client at a time on that schedule, since you can’t plan your life around it. This is why having a few business clients really brings stability, as they pay very promptly.

  12. Michi Lantz

    Carol –
    Morpheus says to Neo in the movie The Matrix: “You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes..”. I choose the red pill anytime.

    But in short, I am my own worst enemy and feel like ‘an ugly duckling’, although a storytelling one. I easily feel I don’t fit in or have anything important to share that others can take to heart. But I know in my heart that I do. So what keeps me up at night is the sense of having lost faith in myself. I need the chance to climb out of the place I’m stuck in.

    Thank you for the generous offer.

  13. Jenifer

    As I prepare to embark into writing {again} I find myself unable to sleep for fear of falling short in this career as I have in others. Because I am trained as a physician but have never obtained licensing {a personal choice} I am viewed as a sailboat without a sail – interesting to look at but fairly useless. Writing is a wonderful outlet for sharing my knowledge and creativity but I feel rather lost in how to bring it all together. Can I connect with people as I have in the past; can my words help them find the answers they need; can writing give me the stability & focus I really could use at this moment in life? Those questions keep me awake most nights. Thanks for the opportunity at winning a ticket Carol.

  14. Suzanne

    I’ve been a full-time freelancer since May of 2009. It was a necessary leap I took when I was unexpectedly laid off from my corporate job of over 10 years. Since I started freelancing I’ve never experienced a lull in work that has lasted as long as the one I’m experiencing RIGHT NOW! We’re on week 4 now and I’m up late at night worried about paying the bills, and how I want to market myself to gain new clients, whether I should get a part-time job, … or even whether my existing clients will appear again soon and I’ll be swamped with work [as they seem to be sitting on their budgets at the start of the year even though about 6 have mentioned projects they want me to assist with.] I’ve also lost a big client from last year already because they decided to open their work to bidding … and I was underbid. Very disappointing, and found out during the midst of this dry spell. Did I mention my computer was also having issues and has been in the repair shop all of this week? There are just so many things to worry over right now!

    But the one thing that has been worrying me for most of the time I’ve been freelancing is that almost all of my income has come from my design projects. You see, I’m also a freelance graphic artist and it seems to be what I am most known for. Even though I’ve tried to balance my web site and marketing materials to also show my writing abilities the graphics jobs have been more than 90% of my income as a full-time freelancer. I’m guessing that I need to pitch that skill more specifically but I’m not sure how to go about it, and whether I need to rethink my website and other marketing?

  15. Wade Finnegan

    First off, I was a student in one of the first Blast-Off classes and I can say it was excellent. Carol and Linda are pros and will help you get your writing career going. I wrote about the expierence here:

    The thing I’m struggling with is finding my niche. When I first started I didn’t believe there were many places I could write, but after the class I found there are overwhelming opportunities for publication. That sense of being overwhelmed can have a paralyzing effect as well. Trying to carve out my own little spot has been difficult, but it is getting better and the Blast-Off course will help you find yours.

    • Linda Formichelli

      Thanks for your kind words, Wade! And wow — from no opportunities to too many! Why not just pick one at random and try it? Even if its not the right choice for you, doing ANYTHING is better than suffering from analysis paralysis and doing nothing at all.

  16. Debbie Kane

    My blog freaks me out. I love the IDEA of writing and playing with it, but it’s the one thing that I never seem to get around to do. Others have said just “do it” because it’s your key to online writing success but I seem to get stuck on perfection mode — as in, is my topic compelling? Am I writing about what I love? Am I disciplined enough to do it? Once I DO it, I’m fine. It seems to the fear of actually SUCCEEDING at it that is stopping me. (The perfection ideal, interestingly, is not an issue with my other writing.)

    • Carol Tice

      I think we’re more exposed on our blogs. This blog is ME, where articles I write about password security or trends in auto insurance for clients aren’t.

      The only way out of this one is to post a lot. Only way you get better.

  17. Jen Bradley

    This newborn baby! But he’s so dang cute, I don’t mind!
    I’ve been freelancing on the side for years, but since my husband and I took in a two-day old SafeHaven Baby on Nov.18 (our foster license came in the mail the same day), I left my other job to freelance full time and stay with him. As he is a SafeHaven baby, there’s a 99-percent chance we get to keep him and after years of infertility, this is a huge blessing to us.
    However, I’m struggling terribly with how to balance everything: how to run the house, get to all the appointments for him, write enough to pay the bills, then find the time and energy to actually do it. How do I get high-paying jobs? How do I know which article ideas to pitch without having to spend hours of research on tons of magazines? (This in particular is weighing me down. I don’t have time to find out what articles they recently published and then figure out another idea. Or is this something I have to do no matter what?) How do I feel like I’ve accomplished something professionally between the diapers, bottles and minimal showers? Ha! God has blessed us tremendously. I just really need a boost in encouragement, direction and faith! I have been following you for quite a while and Linda even longer. I have her first copy of the Renegade Writer on my desk now. I would really appreciate some concrete direction on what to do next. I have the ideas, but get overwhelmed on where to start. Thank you for the opportunity!

    • Carol Tice

      Congrats, 2 of my 3 are adopted. You’re doing good stuff there. It’ll probably take a while to get the hang of the juggling act, especially with a transitioning foster baby.

      You kind of do need to research your markets. In your scenario you might want to try to find a business client or two that could provide steady work…might be easier than pitching and pitching given your time.

    • Linda Formichelli

      Hey, we’re an adoptive family too!

      Start anywhere — just make a list of everything you think you need to do and what you WANT to do, pick one thing, and DO it. When that’s done, pick something else. Too many writers get bogged down in deciding how to move forward, so they stall.

    • Jenifer

      Just wanted to send best wishes for the little guy to join your family Jen. I suffered with infertility for several years and making it to the other side of infertility is absolutely amazing. Our son is a blessing from IVF and I really can’t imagine life withut him. Being a mom really does erase the pain & agony of TTC for so long. Good luck to all of you! {sorry for butting in but couldn’t help myself!}

  18. Heiddi

    What keeps me up at night is a tie between fear and confidence. I know (logically) that I’m a good writer, but the second I see a magazine or think of anyone in a magazine (Linda/Carol – talking to you) I freeze. I instantly think that I’m not good enough even though I’ve been paid for my blogging and even been published a few times in hyperlocal periodicals. Other times, I feel scared that I won’t be able to deliver after the pitch. Sigh. Help!

  19. Pinar Tarhan

    Well, two things- and only the second one of them is negative.

    One: I am afraid that my dreams will remain just that- dreams. I will still be in the same place as I am now. No published books, no own writer’s retreat, no financial freedom to writer whatever and whenever I want.

    Two: My characters and their storylines. They keep talking, and I let them. I love my characters, and it is hard to let them go until at least I have written and printed out their stories. And then of course they want to be seen by a larger audience, so I find myself writing their stories in more publishable formats. I also can’t stop thinking about new ideas.

    I know “one” will be obselete if I can get all my to-do-lists done, but it takes lots of energy to get rid of all the obstacles. And I know that sometimes I am one of those obstacles.

  20. Tom Bentley

    What keeps me up at night is a leaden hourglass upon my chest: lost time. Squandered time is time not available for working (and worrying) the words, not available for tunneling more deeply, more accurately into the power of expression, not available for making a difference—not simply a living—with language.

    I am making a living with my writing, but I waste so much time dithering on the Internet, not getting back to the novel I’ve left lonely, not doggedly pursuing writing breakthroughs, but just coasting on “good enough.” I’m older now, and that hourglass is only getting heavier…

  21. James Jardine

    My greatest challenges are avoiding “writing fatigue” and keeping content fresh and engaging in my freelance work. I spend all day at my full-time gig writing and editing marketing copy — and lots of it. Consequently, my freelance work suffers because the writing part of my brain is already worn out by the end of the business day. I don’t have enough freelance work to do it full time but I’ve found myself turning opportunities away rather than making a half-hearted effort. Any advice on avoiding burnout and maintaining a good balance in a wide variety of writing projects?

  22. Azhari

    Lots of things keep me up at night. How do I get more gigs? (super tiny writer here, a fiverr writer lol) Is there writing job for me here in Malaysia? How do I look for one? Where do I need to start? How do I push myself, be motivated and do my job better.

    Currently I’m trying to improve my writing. Read a lot of blogs about it. Write on for 2 consecutive days now, a great achievement for me, But if I have someone to show me the way, that surely helps speed up the process.

  23. Amber

    I am currently a B to B corporate catalog writer and am laying the groundwork to make the leap to freelance in the next couple of months. I actually enjoy commercial writing and would honestly rather do that than writing for magazines, etc. (I think I may be weird in that way.)

    After deciding to take this step, a LOT of things keep me up at night. But the main thing is how to market myself and how to land that very first client. I’m reading non-stop about this very subject but putting it into practice seems incredibly daunting.

    • Carol Tice

      Hey, don’t feel weird — B2B is a great niche for writers!

      Consider pitching your current FT employer on whether they would let you be a contractor for them. I know quite a few freelancers who made the transition that way. It gives you one large, steady client to start who you already know likes your work 😉

      • Amber

        I’ve actually thought about that. Thanks for confirming that that wasn’t a completely crazy idea. 🙂

  24. Christen

    I’m a newbie trying to get started in commercial freelancing. What I worry about is: My slowness as a beginner. I’m climbing up the learning curve and reading everthing I can get my hands on about copywriting skills, but I realize that it is a new skill for me, and I worry about taking more time to get it right than clients would want. I find it frightening to market myself without having firsthand experience of market expectations. Sure Peter Bowerman says you can make $50 an hour, but on a linked in forum others are making $25. I worry about overpricing myself as a newbie. I also worry about marketing myself with confidence when I know that I’m still learning the skills.

    I’ve been fortunate to have a couple of projects from personal connections already, but to market myself, I am working on my online presence. Do I need to have a business blog with my website in order to bring in clients? What if I don’t know enough yet about marketing and business writing to do that? Is that small, personal blog I’ve been keeping for the last couple of years going to hurt me as a professional? Do I just make my name my brand, or do I need to come up with a company name? How do I leverage my small experiences to convince someone to hire me. I’ve been reading up about all these questions, but I still find myself agonizing over them. Soon it will be another set of questions!

    I loved your 10 Biggest Obstacles webinar. That definitely hit on issues I’m facing. Thanks!

    • Carol Tice

      In my view, you don’t need a blog unless you’re looking for blogging gigs, or you love blogging and have a niche you want to monetize as a separate income stream activity you want to work on.

      Glad you enjoyed the 10 Obstacles Webinar. You’ve got a lot of questions there! I think the Blast Off class would help you answer them, this is exactly the sort of stuff we get solved for you. We have a whole presentation on best practices for writer websites and blogs, and then at the top 2 levels we give you an individual review of your online presence and how you could improve it to make it get you clients.

  25. Elizabeth

    Right now I’m trying to learn how many projects and clients I can juggle at once, and still bring my A game. I’ve had some good success but how do I balance it all?

  26. Jan

    I don’t know how fascinating my comment is. Reality is I I have so many channels of writing I want to pursue this year. I’m not fearful as much as strapped for time. What’s causing me so little sleep is too many projects for the time I have. So time management to pursue the passionate projects I’ve got on my mind is Job #1.

    The next big issue is that in moving into a new genre from my comfort in blog posts to writing chapters for a book, I’ve discovered I want to and need to take my writing to a new level. I took a stab at the first 4 chapters and when I looked back at them, I wanted to rewrite all of them. And I will.

    What keeps me up at night (and getting up at 430AM in the morning and I am not a night-owl or early morning person – which makes you (and me) wonder just exactly when am I most productive (10AM-6PM) is that I have way more ideas than I can tackle as quickly as I’d like.

    For instance, I would love to take your course. I wanted to take you up on the offer of 30 days free access to your services. What keeps me up at night is that I’m missing out on important opportunities to grow; important opportunities to become a greater asset to the clients that absorb all the time that keeps me from this mission.

    My New Year’s Resolution is to make the personal commitment to make the time to improve my writing a priority over the other deadline-driven activities. Seeking a way to achieve this balancing act reminds me of my new commitment to the Serenity Prayer. Having clients who make what seem like crazy choices (like choosing Drupal when WordPress will do nicely) has renewed my conviction that sanity can only be had when I let go of what I can’t control and focus on taking care of what I can.

    This balancing act absolutely requires decisions about what is necessary for well-being. That means managing simple basics like eating right, getting mental breaks and social interaction to recharge the creative juices (when all the great ideas come and solutions to the most niggling of issues), and yes, getting sleep. And in those absurd moments between projects, every precious second taken to remember a birthday, wrap a gift, reach out to a friend and touch base with the people and nature gives us the perspective writers (and other people) need.

    So for those of you who are up at night. Make sure you walk out on the deck at dawn and take a deep breath. Then go back inside and resume the mission. Peace out.

  27. Jean Hoefling

    The computer screen glows blue at 3 a.m, and once again my mind chatter is temporarily quieted by putting on headphones and eye mask to focus on the narration of yet another Netflix documentary–this time on monitor lizards. It’s come to this– resorting to lizard docs to calm my fears about this business writing thing?

    We all know that being successful at business writing means learning to get behind clients’ voices and honing the art of communicating the heart of their business goals and needs–as opposed to the expression of our own muse. This is when writer’s block comes for me. And aghh– all the organizational stuff about running a business that in 2012 I hope will no longer fit into a tiny spiral notebook, stuff like finding the best contract templates, and the many technical and business aspects. Folders, folders everywhere, the things that for many writers are not the strong suit. I’m already finding some of these answers in Carol’s great material.

    Jean Hoefling recently posted

  28. Jenn

    My biggest obstacle, I think, is figuring out how to best leverage my strengths. I don’t come from a neat and tidy background in finance, healthcare, or education where skill-sets immediately transfer to particular trade writing markets (as many successful freelancers seem to), and I’ve spent most of my life as a rather idiosyncratic novelist. When I inventory my knowledge, my interests, and skills, it all feels a bit piecemeal and unconnected. I would love to come up with a strategy in 2012 that incorporates all of them across genres (fiction and nonfiction) so that I can target my queries and pitches, get more work, and feel like I’m bringing my whole self to the table.

    • Carol Tice

      I don’t know that my background is so tidy either, and I work several niches. I think this is a common problem, that writers don’t know what direction to go. Which is why in the Blast Off, we start by going through your background and map out where your best probable opportunities are, and then how to pitch those markets.

  29. jan adamson

    It’s that dithering thing that keeps me up…..okay, I need to do this; no, I need to do that first; but if I do that, it will take me too long to get to this; but what about if I do the other? Yikes! And then I just shut down. I saw some nice success last year and then it just stopped. I don’t know whether it’s me, the magazines I’m contacting or just the world at the moment. I don’t know how I sleep at all!

  30. Paul Callaghan

    It’s the slowness of picking up clients that’s keeping me awake. I usually have two or three clients at any one time but can’t seem to break over that number to make a full time living. Making the jump from part time to full time would be great

    • Carol Tice

      How much marketing are you doing? Whenever I talk to people who don’t have enough client leads, they’re usually just looking at the online job ads and not doing much active marketing of their business. A lot of writers don’t really know how to go about that, which is why we spend a whole hour in the blastoff on best marketing strategies, to get people away from the ads and into more productive marketing activities.

  31. Mandy Hartley

    Adding items to my “Things I Need to Learn” list keeps me up at night. That is one long list. I’m an academic psychologist with experience in fiction writing, but no background in the world of freelance. I’m gathering as much information as I can, but it’s overwhelming. I know I’m going to get there as writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do, but in the middle of the night that list is suffocating.

    • Carol Tice

      Well, we all always need to learn more…I still feel that way and always have a big backlog of stuff I want to learn about.

      But we can find work from where we are right now, and learn as we go. Somewhere, there’s a client who would just love to have your expertise, without learning anything more. The trick is to stop feeling like you’re not ready to go out and get a gig. We designed the Blast Off to try to get writers over this hump of feeling ‘not ready’ and into feeling confident in going out and pitching NOW.

  32. Debra Weiss

    What keeps me up at night is feeling overwhelmed. There’s the actual writing, the querying, the finding new editors, the blogging, the social media, and on and on the list goes. But what helps me is to go forward anyway. I figure even the brightest minds had to stumble around in the darkness until they found their way so why should it be any easier for me?

    • Carol Tice

      Yeah, that was near the top of our “10 Biggest Obstacles of Freelance Writers” list! And you’ve figured out the answer to overwhelm. Like Dory says in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming…what do we do? We swim…”

  33. L'Tanya

    What keeps me up is trying to manage or stay in that writing “sweet spot.” That is, rhythm of figuring out which types of writing work best for me at which times (e.g., quick articles during the summer, essays or features during the school year, etc.); which use my time most effectively since I’m a mom of 2 children and caregiver for my mother; sending out LOIs, queries or stick with RPMs. I’m getting dizzy just writing about it now.

    • Carol Tice

      I’ll bite…what’s an RPM?

      • L'Tanya

        Oh I’m sorry…regional parenting magazines.

  34. Savannah Humes

    There are mainly two things that keep me up at night. It’s usually a combination of A) Can I really make this happen? and B) Will I earn enough money?. Since October 2011 I have been writing for I was happy for maybe the first month. Afterwards I ended up borrowing The Renegade Writer from my library and a whole new world was opened up before me. I struggle with the thought of whether I can really make this a career for myself or not. I know I have the determination but the apprehension and fear is still there.

    I think a lot of writers, at least in the beginning, struggle with wondering if they’ll make enough money. I’m right there in that boat with them. I really just want to be finished with Elance and begin actually earning what I should be.

    I finally got my first magazine article published last week! I didn’t get what I really wanted for the article but I was so excited I didn’t even bother to negotiate with them. I did negotiate with them to receive payment upon acceptance rather than payment upon pub though. I’m also working with another magazine with two articles in progress. Regardless of this I still tend to feel a bit lost and overwhelmed at times.

    I just graduated high school two years ago and I’m only 19. I’m dieing to learn as much as I can about freelance writing so I can help myself succeed. Thank you so much Linda & Carol for providing your subscribers with tons of information. I look forward to your emails everyday!

  35. Catherine McKinney

    As a beginning freelance writer, and I mean at the very beginning of her freelance writing career, my biggest worry is obtaining the first client.
    I am creating a website even as I write this missive. I am excited about blogging. What a creative form of writing.

    Besides standing on the cyber corner of work and don’t work with a scrawled sign “Will Write for Food,” the urgency of this professional adventure can not be underestimated. Unemployment benefits only go so far.

    Fear is terrible companion.

    My most rampant failure is taking the responsibility of time management coupled with the overwhelming cyber realm of possibilities.

    My ideal creation arena lies in the specialty food and tourist industries.

    I have enjoyed the encouragement and knowledge you share with your blog.

    So I wish you luck as you continue your writing career, and, especially, as you help others to launch and progress their writing lives.

    Thank you Carol, and thank you for the gentle instruction.

    • Carol Tice

      Glad you’re finding the blog useful!

      You’ve got great niches there — loads of food companies and industry trade mags on about every niche within it, tourism bureaus, hotels, etc that need writing done. I used to cover restaurant and hospitality in one of my staff jobs — fun beats!

  36. Kristina Rolfes

    What keeps me up at night is the same thing that keeps me motivated — that if I don’t succeed at making a freelance living, I will forced to get a 9-5 job, working for someone else’s goals instead of my own.

  37. Kristina Rolfes

    Make that “be forced…”

  38. Lilla Folsom

    I need a kick in the pants. I know I can switch careers and make a good living freelancing, but I am frozen. I need to win the place in your class…help!!!!!!!

  39. Jason

    What keeps me up at night?

    The fact that I have had no formal training as a writer. I have no portfolio or catalogue of work that I can present to a prospective client. Being unemployed has made it all the more important for me to become marketable, but having the confidence in myself despite my lack of marketing ammunition is very daunting. I have worked in the financial services industry which is a place to which I don’t want to return as I seek authenticity. Expression through writing is the dream and career goal but the first step is the hardest.

    • Carol Tice

      Ooh, too bad about your feelings on financial services…that is a GREAT writing niche. Great pay.

      I have almost no formal training as a writer, either. I’m a college dropout. It’s really not needed. Peter Bowerman of The Well-Fed Writer reports that he had no WRITING experience of any kind when he started! I took a couple UCLA Extension classes in writing once. That’s about it.

      Volunteer for a few local businesses and get a few clips. Presto! You have a portfolio and you’re ready to go.

  40. LuAnn

    Hot flashes and night sweats.


    Since I’m lucky to nab a couple hours of sleepy-dreamy time while trying to maintain my cool, my mind races with article ideas. Sure, I keep a notebook on my nightstand – and trust me, it’s overflowing – but the problem is finding payable markets for each of these gems.

    It seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day to pitch every great idea. Help!

  41. Ruth Ekblom

    What keeps me up at night is the desire to write. As a result of this desire I have a reading list I feel compelled to complete to help me to achieve my dream of becoming a completely self-sufficient writer, although I recognise that it is not necessary to complete all the reading projects before writing. I know that I can write without reading another word, but that reading is all so fascinating. So much of it is instructional, and I am grateful to Carol for several suggestions on blogs to follow and books to read on this subject.
    Like several other respondents here, I am new to the concept of writing for money, and find that at times my insides shrivel up, and my mind seems to quiver into a mess of conflicting conversations with itself at the very thought of pitching to a business for a gig. Having no background as an employed writer, be it ever so humble, I have had to tell myself repeatedly that I can write, and write well. And if that is so, what right have I to not offer my abilities to others who would gladly pay me a good sum just so that they do not have to write it themselves – it’s easy to write that here, but much harder in the long dark hours to believe it.
    I guess therefore, what ultimately keeps me up at night is wondering where inside of me I can release the belief that I can write for a living, one that will keep me and my daughters well fed, clothed, housed, educated, and healthy. For I am sure that Carol and Linda, and all the other leaders out there, would not be telling us all that it is possible to earn a decent living writing unless they were doing it themselves. I just have to get the belief fully fledged, and then I’ll be away on the best journey of my life – a journey to growth, personal freedom and development. How immensely satifsying it will be.

  42. Michelle

    Not the most fascinating answer, but certainly honest. Worrying about income keeps me up all night. I feel as if I need to make a guaranteed income from other sources before I can focus on my writing. I wrote for content mills for a while, but that option pretty much dried up. I have published clips and won a couple of writing contests. I’m not afraid of failure. I just don’t have the time to make writing a priority with all this other stress. The kicker is I know I can do it. I could be earning a decent income from my writing if I could just get past this one little obstacle. 2012 is the year.

  43. Selene

    “God, I hope I can pay my rent this month. Do I have enough money to buy some groceries tomorrow? I’m so hungry! How many eggs do I have left? I think there are 3 left. OK. Good. I can make that last three days. Must finally sit down and go through all the Freelance Writer’s Den materials. I wonder how many hours I’ll get at work this week. If I get at least 15 more hours, I only have to do a $300 direct deposit advance from Well Fargo instead of a $400 advance. But wait, no. My Internet and phone bill is due in a few days. Shoot, I have to go for the bigger advance. I’m only allowed a few more of those advances… No, think about that later. Seriously, I HAVE to get my writers website set up. OK, there’s stuff about that in the Writer’s Den. I can’t afford to get Ethel’s motor mounts fixed. Maybe I should just sell her? But not having a car in Los Angeles is next to impossible. Maybe I’ll go to the temp agencies. If I do that I can’t sell her but I can’t afford to fix her. I MUST do the writing thing. AAAHHHHH!!!’

    That is just a small sample of what’s running through my head keeping me up at night. (By the way, all that inner dialogue is moving at lightening speed. Like the fast talking FedEx commercial guy! haha) Here’s a little background info, I’m a trained journalist and worked for a major metropolitan newspaper at one time. Got out of the writing game for many years and jumped back in a couple years ago writing for the content mills. So I have SUPER old newspaper clippings and some Demand Media samples. When I’m not stressing about all the things that are keeping me up at night, I get a little lost on where to go from here as far as my writing career is concerned.

    Basically, I feel like a dog chasing her tail. Or maybe chasing the idea of the carrot dangling in front of her face.

  44. Lynnell

    I want to abandon my pen name and claim the articles I’ve written, despite their controversial topics. I am bound my family loyalty not to link my name to any taboo topics, since my father considers himself a public figure. But really? Don’t I deserve my own identity, instead of imprisoning mine to protect his?

    The idea of separating yourself from your words – in in fact there is brevity behind them – should keep any writer up at night. Then again, pen names keep my father sleeping soundly.

  45. Cindy

    My answer: a fine espresso from good quality with some milk:) That’s my secret and that was during the university, too:)

  46. Jeanne H

    My fear is the thought of leaving the stable, reliable work I’ve got now for freelance work. I want to do Bowerman-style b2b writing, white papers, policy etc. But I am freaked out a little about not having that safety net. I know I have the intelligence and skill to do it, but taking that first step is daunting!

  47. Jaimie

    My biggest fear is that I won’t be able to top my accomplishments in 2011 and continually grow my business. At times I feel like running back to a job in book publishing with the security of a cubicle name plate, health insurance, and a steady, “guaranteed” income.

    After I calm myself down, I recall how I felt when I was sitting in that cubicle–stuck. And it wasn’t until I left and started my freelance business that I really started to feel alive. But now that I’ve had some success I’m fearful of losing it.

  48. Christina Li

    Wow! There are some great comments here. I guess the thing that keeps me up at night is what has been said before–getting it all done/finding the right balance. I don’t want to just get the writing/editing/reviewing done. I want to do it well and at the same time not sacrifice time with my family. It’s so easy to obsess, but then someone important loses. In some ways it’s easier when the children are smaller. (It’s hard to ignore a baby’s crying.) But, my kids are older and I home-school them. That may be good time spent, but it’s not ‘fun’. It’s not really connecting either. I guess what keeps me up at night is really connection, connection with readers as well as my family. The easy answer is just manage your time better, but in practice, that’s not so easy. Any suggestions?

  49. Louis Burklow

    The thing keeping me up is how to do this. I read various e-mails and blogs about starting and maintaining a freelance career but it seems like I’m getting so much information I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t work in a field that offers me a lot of contacts to call on for writing projects so I don’t know how to approach others in an electronic version of cold-calling (or who to contact, for that matter). I need to figure out what that first step is and how to follow up on it.

  50. Carol Tice

    As the end of my day nears, I just want to send everyone a big hug.

    I hear you.

    There’s a lot to know and it can be overwhelming. It can be hard to know where to start.

    You’re reminding me exactly why Linda and I created this class last year — to help people identify their strengths, cut through the noise of all the advice out there, and come up with a concrete game plan for moving forward that’s tailored for you.

    Folks can continue to post entries all through the weekend…I won’t judge the contest until Sunday night.

    • Lin

      Thanks for the hug you sent all of us Carol. You must have posted it while I was writing my overly long comment because I didn’t see your comment until this morning.

      In looking over the comments everyone else has made, it’s apparent that many people are in the same boat. I think we all feel like a bit like Sisyphus. I think we are all so worn out from trying to survive that it’s hard to muster enough extra energy to push to get into a place where we can actually thrive.

      • Carol Tice

        You’re welcome!

        I think there’s a level of starvation that when you arrive there, it’s very, very hard to make it as a freelance writer. You’re too in the hole and desperate and can’t invest anything in the business. And freelance writing is a business. I tell people to get a side gig if they have to, just to stabilize their finances where they can pursue freelancing…or in your case, to get a job where they actually pay their employees 😉

        • Lin

          Yeah, I’ve been trying to get a different job, either part-time or full-time. I wasted a lot of time sending out resumes and applying to jobs, which only yielded a few responses and no interviews or offers.

          Hopefully, things will start improving. Even some of my closest friends haven’t known how good I am at writing. But sending out this newsletter is starting to open people’s eyes. I think there is an attitude that if someone is really good at something, that they are going to have no trouble earning a living. Therefore, if they are having a problem earning a living, that type of logic concludes they must not be any good at it.

          One of my friends went through a similar situation. But she was able to break through it and networked her way into a gig recently. It’s fairly high profile, which means a lot of people now see her writing and she is starting to get additional work in because of the exposure.

          In addition, one of my old colleagues is in the midst of creating a start-up and he told me he might have some work for me in a few weeks.

          I’m also going to swallow my pride and apply for food stamps, which will relieve some pressure.

          I was able to borrow the money I need from a friend today, so that solved my immediate emergency.

  51. Lin

    Everything is worrying me. I’m scattered in different directions. I don’t seem to get anything done. I’m a good writer, skilled at interviewing, great at coming up with story ideas, or at least I was. But I’m burned out. My playfulness is gone, and I can’t get it back. Sometimes I have trouble writing. I can’t think of questions for interviews or figure out whom to interview. My story ideas are incomplete, and I don’t follow through on finding markets and querying because I’m disorganized, exhausted and worried about how I’m going to keep the electricity on and buy food. I’m not sure I can do it this month.

    I need money so desperately that it’s hard to focus on doing the things that will get me out of this rut.

    I would like to get some business clients. But I worry that they will want to meet with me. I had to park my car last March because I couldn’t afford to repair the brakes, and still can’t. My “employer” is nine months behind on the payroll. We get one check per month, and it’s for a pay period many months before. I’m afraid to stop working for him for fear that I won’t get another paycheck, and I need the money because I haven’t been able to earn enough money doing other things to pay my bills without it.

    I feel like I’m drowning. I just want to cry. But I can’t let myself do that.

    Every day, I vow I’ll get more done. But I seem overwhelmed with trying to find something that will pay quick now, plus work on my blog, try to get a website going and try to come up with story ideas. I’m mostly computerized, and my files get “lost” because I don’t see them in front of me. But I don’t think I have room for more paper clutter. But I think part of my inertia is just not having a good organization system in place as a writer.

    To top it all off, I got sick recently. My old back injuries also flared up. Then, I got a computer virus. Arghhhhh!!!

    One good thing is that I just started doing the newsletter and email blasts for the religious organization I attend. People are complimenting me on my writing, and I’m asking everyone to tell their friends about me if anyone needs any writing. I’m going to start sending out press releases too, and that will help get me better known in the community.

    But it’s just all too slow. I have $69 in my wallet, nothing in the bank, virtually no food or TP in the house and the $79 past-due balance is due on my electric bill on the 19th. And my boss can’t tell me when he’ll send the next check. So no matter what I do to get more writing work in, it’s all just too slow, and I’m too overwhelmed.

    Anyway, that’s part of what keeps me up at night.

    • Katherine Swarts

      Maybe humans are contagious enough to make computers sick as well? Not to make light of your situation: it reminds me all too well of my own. They say that bad times feed pessimistic attitudes, which feed worse times, and on and on in a vicious circle. I can’t stand to hear people talk in simplistic terms of “just learn to think positive and it’ll solve all your problems”; no one would imply to someone needing heavy physical therapy that the next stage after barely being able to walk was running a hundred-yard dash.

  52. LaMonique Hamilton

    I think I’m living my fears. I took a leap of faith after a long time at a job that was not at all rewarding to write full-time. I have a few clients who are wonderful, and one steady commercial client, but I would love to break in to writing for national markets. I have sent out a few query letters, but have not received the feedback I need to get the acceptance letters I desire. I’m a single mother, and I am not making enough money to continue to support my family. I’m scared to death, and could use some help in perfecting my technique ASAP so I can go after those markets and close the deal!

  53. Michael

    Fear of letting down my family, my friends and all those who have heard me talk about my writing ambitions.

    It’s not about the money, the prestige, or the superfluous things that may come with being a freelance writer. It simply comes down to my personal code of honor, the principles that I live by. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it, no matter the cost. Failure is not an option, not because I may not be able to support my family, but because I want them to see that I made a bold decision, followed through, and accomplished my goals…not only for myself but for them as well.

    That’s what keeps me up at night, that’s the internal drive that pushes me to make my living as a freelance writer. Someday, when I’m on my deathbed looking back at my life, I want to say I lived with no regrets, that I lived according to a set of standards and that I worked as hard as I possibly could to make a better life for my family and to make them proud of me…

  54. Katherine Swarts

    It drives me crazy that building a freelance life (or any sort of job search or life plan, for that matter) doesn’t come with a step-by-step set of infallible instructions with guaranteed results. I’m not asking for things to be easy or quick, but I WOULD like to be able to tell for SURE that I’m going in the right direction, how far I’ve come, and how far I have to go! My life path since college resembles starting out on a trip without a map, driving about a mile, deciding nothing looks right, returning to the starting point in an attempt to get one’s bearings–and repeating the above pattern until the car runs out of gas.

  55. Katherine Swarts

    (Just to reset my “recent post” note to something a little more in line with the thread.) 🙂

  56. DeAnn Rossetti

    Hi Carol and Linda (Linda, I remember with great fondness your Renegade Writers newsletter! It was so inspirational!)
    I’ve been a freelance writer/reporter, and a magazine editor, staff reporter, proofreader and word nanny for the past 27 years. I’ve done my best to adapt to new media, and I worked last year on a Patch website, only to get ousted when the freelance budget dried up and blew away like a digital tumbleweed.
    Now I find myself writing book reviews, but not for enough money, and I’m being turned down for a number of writing jobs as being “overqualified” which is the new corporate-speak for “you’re too old and we’re afraid we might have to pay you decently, so we’d rather hire some kid right out of college and pay them a pittance while abusing their fear of unemployment to get them to work for free on the weekends.” There are so many ‘scam’ ads for content mills and other ‘startup’ companies that pay pennies or nothing at all, that I’ve become discouraged. I apply for writing jobs, send queries to various publications, and I hear the refrain of ‘getting someone to do it cheaper’ all the time. I have four blogs, a Facebook page and a deep-seated dislike of Twitter (seriously, 140 characters? Why?)
    Please help me get over my midlife writers crisis!

  57. Tradus lee

    Any thing I have not accomplished in the day, and I need to finish up before the next day can keep me up at night. And that’s not all,if my work flow is nicely moving all evening I will extend into the night.

  58. Candice swanepoel diet

    What keeps me up at night is a tie between fear and confidence. I know (logically) that I’m a good writer, but the second I see a magazine or think of anyone in a magazine (Linda/Carol – talking to you) I freeze. I instantly think that I’m not good enough even though I’ve been paid for my blogging and even been published a few times in hyperlocal periodicals. Other times, I feel scared that I won’t be able to deliver after the pitch. Sigh. Help!

  59. Jane Rutherford

    What keeps me up at night? The question I’m asking myself most often? It’s “how can I have it all?” Right now I have one full time job, one part time and I freelance on the side. I’m in debt and my rent went up this year so I can’t affort to go freelance full time just yet. There’s taking risk and there’s risking too much. So I’m calculating at this point. How to maximize my freelance income with those 2-3 hours a day that I can actually spend writing? How long do I have keep the (second) part-time job to have recorded monthly income high enough to get a bank loan so I can move apartments and switch to something cheaper? How little sleep can I go on so I can get a little extra time to get my writing blog out there? Can I afford to unplug and not write anything one day a week? Is cloning impossible?

    So far I do take one day a week away from the stress, or I would not be able to function for long. I have this timeline for this year, I have plans, I have a vague idea of what to do. There’s not enough hours in a day and apparently I do need at least 7 hours of sleep to think straight. But I still worry, I’m still afraid, I still stress out over every business decision. I just know that this year I have to get my business running and I need some income so I can sleep at night.

    • Carol Tice

      If you have a full-time job and a part time job AND you freelance and you’re still broke and in debt, all I can say is…I’m not liking that full-time job! Makes me wonder if you could earn more by dropping it and having more freelance time and maybe keeping the part time one. If you’re already sinking into debt it seems like there’s not that much risk to dropping one of these jobs.

      The thing about freelance writing is your income potential is unlimited…especially if you have that mindset. A lot of people think it means you should automatically adjust to the idea of making a fraction of your previous income…but that’s only true if you think it is.

      • Jane Rutherford

        The debt I’m in is certainly more manageable than it was two years ago. Baring any unexpected expenses, I should be clear of it within the year (maybe year and a half). And I agree with you about needing to drop one job so I can concentrate more on freelancing. Unfortunately banks in my country are not as willing to give big loans to self-employed people without long and successful profit history. So if I want to get a loan for the new apartment I need to be employed for a bit longer. ON the plus side I know it’s a temporary situation. Why do you think I make so many plans?

  60. Jessica

    What keeps me up at night (most of last night) is the big hole in my stomach and my racing heart. How can I have so much proven talent and experience and still fail? How can I use all my creativity and well-honed work ethic and still end up at rock bottom?

    All of our bills are due and our income has slowed to a slow drip. I worry about how we’ll pay our rent, our cat had four kittens last week, I’m negotiating with our internet company to keep the lines up. They owe us 3 dollars more for advertising than we owe for our connection and they want us to pay them right away, meanwhile they are six months out.

    After more than 2 years, it looks like we are going to have to pull the plug on our print weekly newspaper. Sadly, and in a gallows humor kind of way, this decision comes at the same time that our local bank is featuring us as business of the month.

    As a freelance journalist with more than 35 years of publication, I moved to a small town on the Oregon coast and decided to start a weekly community newspaper. That was May 2009. With the exception of some local columnists, and a bit by my husband (our photographer) everything that appears in the paper has been written by me. Food drives, our lone OWS protestor (we’re a tiny town), government secrecy, the Lions, new business openings, business closings, editorials, features about interesting members of the community, press releases, even classified ads. I also design ads and do all the layout. I just did a beautiful 8 page insert that is getting raves.

    In addition, I sold advertising until I could get my husband to do it. My journalist heart never felt good about that, but justified it by the fact that we were a small business. The two of us do everything from covering meetings and photography, to interviews, layout, and a 200 mile/ 12 hour weekly delivery day. Reliable sales reps have been impossible to find despite a very generous compensation plan. And we can’t yet afford to pay for delivery.

    We built a loyal subscriber/advertiser base. We managed to defy and overcome vigorous efforts by City Hall, the mayor and a small clique of his hangers-on to destroy our business and run us out of town. We fought back against defamation by a local blog (imagine having folks ask you about your past a sex worker and pole dancer – the one they made up out of whole cloth). We won legal battles for public records and did everything right.

    But…our biggest accounts paid 6 months out; while our bills had to be paid every month. We depended on advertising to pay our printing bill, took no salary, and worked and worked and worked. We grew our coverage area and became known for practicing old-fashioned journalism — actually showing up to cover events. We even printed corrections when necessary.

    Now, we’re in the hole because we borrowed from those who believed in us always thinking things would get better if we only made more calls, delivered more sample issues, and worked harder.

    Printing is Tuesday. We have less than half of what we need to print ( they get cash on pick up) and this year they have increased the price. Our banker has been terrific, but we don’t qualify for any kind of a loan and we’ve extended our overdraft to the limit. Our advertisers are going out of business or tightening their belts.

    I just started setting up the newspaper on a site, but the learning curve has been very steep. I spend focused hours and at the end of the day, I’ve only put up four or five stories. I can see exactly what I want but don’t yet have the savvy to make it work, so I struggle. I would gladly outsource the techie parts, but that isn’t in the budget. I’m open to barter, but have yet to find someone willing to trade. I dream of WordPress layouts.

    About half of our current subscribers are elderly and don’t have access to or use a computer. And they have been some of our most loyal supporters. My sense of betraying them by ending the print issue is heart-wrenching.

    I’m a good writer, a terrific researcher, and I have a nose for news. For years I found and pitched stories to the ‘established’ press that their reporters didn’t find. I have well honed interview skills even in touchy situations because folks trust me and will tell me things they may not have told another person. I know how to find and use public records. I’m a fair photographer and a fast and accurate writer. I’m also prolific, regularly writing 10-20K words per week, sometimes more.

    How can I take these skills and this track record and turn it into income? I must pay back those who trusted me. I’d be happy to have my other writing and layout skills underwrite the print edition.

    For more than two years, when in doubt, I wrote more, made more phone calls, attended more meetings and generally worked harder. That is clearly not enough. I just turned 55 and I have the feeling that time is running out for me. I’ve had health insurance for a grand total of 4.5 years as an adult (3 years in the Army and 18 months in a county job). I look back and see that I have made a difference in other people’s lives. But, I’ve always lived on the edge of survival (and sometimes over).

    I know I have the skills and talent. I need to learn the different things to make my life turn out differently. I thought I was feeling mostly frustration at not cracking the ‘code’ for success as a writer. As I put down the words in this post, I realized that mostly I feel sadness at letting down those who have believed in me and for living a life much smaller than it could be.

    I would so appreciate winning the ticket to the Blast-Off and I would make sure to wring every ounce of wisdom from it by putting it into play.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to put my panic and stress into words and realize that what I’m really feeling is sadness. Not that that is better than frustration, but it gives me a slightly different perspective.

    I stumbled across your blog only two weeks ago. I’m glad I did.


    • Tom Bentley

      Jessica, that sounds rough, but your credible spirit comes through as strength, which I hope will keep you pushing through. I entered this contest too, but I hope you win it, and that it supplies a springboard to more positive times.

      • Jessica

        Thank you for your kind words. During my shower (where I practice washing out/off negativity) the thought came to me that I simply have to plan to “advance in a different direction.” A springboard of new knowledge and support would be immensely helpful.
        I’m glad you see strength where I have felt defeat. It heartens me. I will go on, there’s no other way.

        Thank you again,

        Jessica- who is off to practice mastering the WP learning curve again.

  61. Mandy Harris

    What keeps me up at night–am I the real deal who can take the talent and accolades and turn it into something? Do I have the bull dog tenacity to persevere? Can I handle my fear of rejection? Can I be comfortable with being successful? Will I crumble from criticism? Will I unknowingly self-sabotage myself and quit the game to go back to an office job with nothing but excuses?

    In other words, am I brave enough to stop doing what I’ve done my whole life so that I can do the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do?

  62. Jen Henderson

    What keeps me up at night is that I have so many ideas for queries and articles yet I’m in the middle of PhD program and am having a difficult time splitting my brain to focus on both. The real concern is that I’ll lose these kinds of writing ideas and the momentum I built up before my degree program began in August. I see both freelance and my degree working in tandem in the long term, but short term, I’d having difficulty figuring out how to balance my course work with freelance work. I know I may have to be more realistic about what I can manage right now, but I’m not sure what to keep and what I can put on hold for now.


  63. Ali

    There are two things that “keep me up at night”:

    1. Some repeat clients force me to lower my price every time they come back, and on the other hand I want them to pay more – They usually say something like “You did a very good job last time, but your price was rather high. We are willing to hire you again if you can revise your cost.” I just hate it (though I never lower my bid).

    2. I’m exceedingly nervous when I send my work to the client – sometimes I even get night sweat. (Luckily, I almost always get a good response)

    • Carol

      I don’t like that attitude– once you learn more about a client’s business, you’re worth more to them, not less. Using you again saves them time and money vs having to train someone new, is my view.

  64. Moira

    What keeps me up at night?
    Overwhelm – do I write about my experiences living in foreign counties, life in the Saudi desert, being stung by scorpions 3 times (in different countries), coming home and going to university to study, and becoming a lawyer in my 50’s, then giving that up to become a public speaking coach and freelance writer? Or do I write about one of my greatest loves – food, even though it’s one of the most difficult markets to break into? I’m also kept up at night thinking about marketing my freelance writing business – what to put in my new website, to blog or not to blog, do I have time to tweet every day, join discussions on LinkedIn, post messages on Facebook? Do I join a writing group to keep me accountable? Add to that, lack of finances, creaking joints and the question, ‘is it too late?’ I need focus, direction and sleep.

  65. Jennifer Roland

    Money is always a source of concern, as is the fear that I won’t reach the level of success I am shooting for this year. But what truly keeps me up at night is the fear that I will achieve my goals. Will I be able to keep up the pace of work if I bring on as many new clients as my goals call for? Will I be able to keep generating new ideas? Will I be able to diversify my topic focuses? In the light of day, I know that things will work out the way they are meant to be and I have set goals that are reasonable and achievable. But that 2am mind needs a lit of convincing!

  66. Jennifer Roland

    A “lot of convincing,” that is.

  67. Heather

    I’m usually pretty excited when it comes to thinking about and even taking action on my goals but I do seem to get a strange case of paralysis when it comes to deciding on the exact publication to pitch too. I think this comes from the worry of pitching to the wrong one. Not in the sense of it not being a good fit but in that I might have missed a publication that would be even a better fit.

    • Carol Tice

      Solution: Pitch them all…and all at the same time. Even if they say you can’t.

      • Heather

        I’m really intrigued by that suggestion since I so often hear just the opposite. 🙂 But it is an interesting idea, thanks for the idea.

  68. Tim Bradley, Writer

    It’s late and still. The only light, from the desk lamp, pools Rembrandt-like on my keyboard. Its keys seem more like teeth tonight, so I keep away from them. The furnace clicks on again, cycling on and off, on and off, like I do about my nascent writing career, maniacally ambitious one day, wrung out and defeated the next. My inner voices, usually just background whispers, are amplified by the night to near scream levels. “Where are you going to get clients?” they scold. “You don’t know your RSS from a hole in the ground, you’ve only glancingly sampled the YouTwitFace offerings and you haven’t begun to create a website.” The profession’s thousands of link-stained wretches are so many laps ahead that joining the race now seems pointless and exhausting, especially at my age (“seasoned,” they call it). It’s all too much. It keeps me up at night.

  69. Coco

    Heck, I sleep like a I’ve been doing manual labor all day, but a reality check would quickly tell me that I should be thrashing about over things like the back rent that I owe, my dying phone, the rattling sound in the front end of my car, the money I borrowed from a friend, how much Peter has so that I can give Paul a little something, the nagging suspicion that some utility is about to be turned off, the fact that I’m uninsured, and the fact that I’m the broke-est of all of my friends and feel like a fraud because I try to keep up appearances. But all this is what I’m supposed to worry about, so therefore I simply don’t worry like I should- just because I’m stubborn.

    I am an expert at avoidance and spend my time wandering the land of procrastination, because you see, I am its queen. And can be such an unkind queen at that, telling myself ugly things like: I’ve got a poor work ethic, I’m lazy, I’m a dreamer- not a doer, I’m a piddler, this’ll be just another little project that I’ll lose interest in, I can’t actually be a success, I don’t deserve to have much, and I’ll never make good money.” Bad stuff. Then I try to tell myself, “Hey, don’t do me like that.”

    I’m a hot mess of dysfunction. But lucky me, I’ve got a little spark of confidence to keep me going. After all, I’m eat up with potential, I have passion, I have skills, I’m curious, and I’m an incorrigible optimist- it’s like I just don’t know any better.

    On a less personal, but no less worrisome level, there are crimes against the language that have me wondering what will happen to us all. Apostrophe abuse. Yes or No on the serial comma? The semicolon vs. the dash. The use of “hone in” instead of “home in. “I” being used as an object pronoun, as in “Mama made her prize-winning meatloaf for you and I,” and the weirdest writing of the year, the untamed Christmas letter, which has me drinking more eggnog with each passing year. Writers are the only people I can turn to who understand because others call me obsessed and that mean word, anal. I know I’ve babbled on and that this is probably a decoy when I should be busying myself with bringing home the bacon, what with all my plans and ideas, but I’m telling you, I’m pacing over this.

    So there you have it, straight from a mind that makes light of a situation that is as serious as a country song, but the fact is, I love to write and I even love the roll-up-your-sleeves stuff like editing. I just happen to be on this million-dollar yacht with a free-spinning wheel at the helm and I’m never making it to port. I’m not in control, I’m off course, and I need a plan.

  70. Jessica

    Your bit about crimes against the language made me laugh.

    My pet peeve is the growing number of people who seem to equate ‘loose’ with ‘lose’.

    Every time I see a weight loss ad/article touting the advantages of ‘loosing weight’ I think of those fake fat globules that doctors use to show patients what one pound of fat looks like, and imagine them unchained from the overweight and flying through the air targeting innocent folks like some weird twist on a quidditch game at Hogwart.

    Maybe I’m just paranoid that those flying globules will find me.


    • Carol Tice

      Please don’t get me started about basic grammar stuff! Those of us who know the difference between their and there seem like a dying species.

  71. Dawn Witzke

    What keeps me up at night? Unfortunately, nothing writing related. Last spring after being laid off from my normal job, I had the hope that I could work full-time as a freelance writer. I gave up after receiving rejection after rejection. The disappointment was devastating. I boxed up everything writing related and shoved it in a closet and quit. It’s been really hard to get back into writing even though I feel the pull to write. I sleep at night because my dream of become a full-time writer was shattered.

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Dawn —

      The rejection after rejection part…that’s normal. The only place you went wrong was giving up.

      I see you’ve joined the Den…I’m sorry I didn’t have it up last spring, or maybe we could have helped you find some gigs faster. Hopefully we can start rebuilding you in there and get you back on track!

      • Dawn Witzke

        I am enjoying the Den! You may never get me out of there.

        It was a terrible time for me and I had way too high of expectations and no plan. Rejections aren’t so hard when you don’t have everything riding on success. This time around I’m going into it with a plan.

  72. Patrick Sullivan

    Thinking about having to go back to slinging lattes at Barnes and Noble Cafe is what keeps me up at night, but it also gets me out of bed and to my desk in the morning.

  73. Lois

    I am in love with this blog!

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