I recently had a chance to watch the original version of Pippi Longstocking with my daughter. I was fascinated to see how many helpful tips it held for freelance writers.
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her yet, Pippi is a 9-year-old girl who lives alone in her ramshackle, wildly self-painted house, Villa Villekula. Her mother is dead and her father is a sailor who’s usually away at sea. Pippi manages to cheerfully deflect all efforts by well-meaning adults to send her to school or to an orphanage, in part due to her secret weapon: she has super-strength and can easily lift a horse over her head.
What can you learn from Pippi? Here are seven ideas:
- Don’t look for external strokes. Pippi is functionally an orphan. She’s all alone, with nobody to encourage her, but she is rarely sad. She doesn’t need others to tell her she’s wonderful — she just knows it. When writers don’t get an answer to a query, they need the same sort of positive self-image to keep going.
- Be brave. From entering a strongman contest to sailing off in a balloon, Pippi is never afraid. She’s out to experience everything the world has to offer. By the same token, writers willing to take difficult assignments often get clips that put their career on a whole new level.
- Let your imagination run wild. Pippi is not a conventional thinker. She paints her house a rainbow of colors. Some walls are left off half-painted, but that suits her fine. And obviously, to lift a horse, you first have to imagine that you can. Don’t have limits in your head around what you can accomplish as a writer — as a freelancer, the sky’s the limit.
- Let the housekeeping go. There’s all sorts of old clutter at Pippi’s house, and she wears mismatched, patched outfits. So what? She’s having fun. Most freelancers — especially ones who juggle writing with family — need to let go of the whole Martha Stewart thing.
- Make friends. Pippi is able to get out of several scrapes with the help of neighbor children and their parents. Writers who network with other writers tend to get more gigs — and can get the feedback that keeps you from taking bad offers, too.
- Discover your strengths. Everyone has unusual interests and areas where they excel. Find those within writing and you’ll probably find better pay. Then, push your writing to the limit and beyond. See what you can accomplish.
- You don’t need a boss. Social workers and neighbor ladies are aghast that Pippi has been left to manage on her own. But the fact is, she’s perfectly able to care for herself. She’s an unusual child that way — just as not everyone is cut out to be a freelancer. It may seem odd to those who’ve only ever held a job, but those of us who freelance successfully don’t need a boss standing over us to get things done.
How are you like Pippi Longstocking? Leave a comment and tell us your superpower.