Freelance Success: One Writer’s Scary Secret You Should Copy

Carol Tice

Ever wonder what the secret to freelance success is?

You might think freelance success looks like this…

You’re always on, working around the clock…even on weekends, and checking e-mails at all hours.

That’s how you get ahead, right?

It’s kind of the status quo for a lot of freelance writers, entrepreneurs, and workaholics.

You’re afraid you’ll miss a deadline, fail to connect with a prospect, or miss an opportunity that could make you $$$. So you work…all the time.

Been there, done that chasing freelance success?

If you’ve even remotely found yourself thinking like this or working this way, it’s time for a change.

Want to know a ‘scary’ little secret about freelance success?

During my wonderfully restful winter break + working as a digital nomad I realized I’ve given a lot of advice about how to make a living writing.

But I’ve dished out a lot of writing advice over the years without discussing the one rule that’s really made it possible for me to achieve freelance success,  and become a well-paid freelance writer.

So I’m going to tell it to you now…

Fasten your seatbelts, because this one piece of advice will be the single most powerful thing I will ever tell you.

This one has the potential to completely change your life. If you’re the workaholic type, this might even sound a little scary.

Ready? Here it is:

Every week, from Friday sunset until Saturday after sunset, I don’t work.

Not ever.

  • I turn off my computer, my phone, my cellphone and whatever other devices are around that might lead to working.
  • I am not posting on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.
  • I’m not updating my Web site, prospecting for clients, filing articles, or conducting interviews.

Even more radical than not working for 25 hours each week…

During that time period I don’t think about work, either.

I don’t plan what I’ll do when I get back to the computer.

I don’t talk business with friends.

I slam the door on my business life and leave it completely behind.

Go ahead, copy me!

Each and every week, I take a complete vacation from working.

It’s called Shabbat, or the Sabbath. And it’s the most amazing tool for personal growth ever invented.

Without that time away to reflect, relax, unplug…we humans tend to just grind along, slowly getting more and more burned out.

We don’t progress as fast. We don’t fully realize our potential.

Freelance success requires time to recharge

When Stephen Covey made “sharpen the saw” one of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he was echoing a timeless truth: we need time off to recharge in order to be our best.

There’s a reason we’re not called “human doings” but “human beings.”

We need time to just be.

To discover who we really are, apart from our ability to earn, meet deadlines, and take meetings.

To simply marvel at our good fortune at being alive in this beautiful world.

Discover the power of a digital detox

FYI…I’m not trying to convince anyone to practice my religious faith – Jews don’t seek converts.

But in today’s real-time culture of 24/7 connectivity, I’m finding it’s more important than ever to carve out a big block of time away from work each week.

Why? It’ll save your sanity, refresh you, inspire you, and make you a better friend, sibling, spouse, parent…and writer.

It may sound scary to take one-seventh of your time each week and commit to making it work-free.

When people start doing it, they’re often terrified they’ll earn less.

But the reality is you’ll probably earn more, because you’ll be so much more effective. Either way, I guarantee you’ll be happier.

Remember, nobody’s tombstone says, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”

All I can say is try it, you’ll like it!

Maybe for you it’ll be Sundays, or Mondays, or it’ll start in the morning, or whenever. However you do it, know that you deserve a day off.

Take it, and see what happens. You might be surprised by the freelance success that follows.

Do you unplug to become a better writer? Tell us about it in the comments.

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  1. Tony ray martin

    This is insightful advice, thank you.

  2. Stephen Barber

    I like this as a method of structuring my time. Have been free from work (regular job) for seven months and been struggling with being productive even though I have plenty of time. Time management has always been one of my issues and this is an excellent tool. One day off per week which I have to look forward to as a reward for being productive the other six. I will do this. Thanks for the tip.

    • Carol Tice

      Stephen, when you LIMIT the available time you can write in, it’s amazing how it concentrates the mind to get things done. I also believe in setting business hours and rarely wrote after dinner when my kids were home. Ask any new mom who has to work around a toddler’s schedule how much they can write during a 45-minute nap. It’s amazing! You just put your head down and GO.

  3. Tom Groenfeldt

    Several top writers such as Stephen King, Steven Pressman and Julia Cameron say you should write every day.

    • Carol Tice

      Sure. Obviously, I’ve heard that one before. I subscribe to a different approach, and it sure has worked for me.

      Also, if I really wanted to, I technically COULD write 7 days a week, because I could write AFTER the Sabbath ends at sundown Saturday. But personally, over the years, I found that didn’t allow enough refresh time, so I stopped coming back online Saturday nights. To each his own! Certainly, writing on a regular basis, nearly every day, is how we improve.

  4. Luther Cavendish

    nice that works for you. Not a plan that fits with me since I sometimes work in various locations. I have been a staff and biz journalist for more than 30 years.

  5. Lisa Sicard

    Wow Carol, I haven’t done that in a long time, take a whole weekend off. I try to take 3/4 of Sundays off but doesn’t always work. You make great points though to do it and it does help when you take short frequent breaks too. You need creativity and you can’t get it sitting in front of the computer all day, day after day! Thanks for the tips.

    • Carol Tice

      Lisa, all I know is of all the writers I’ve encouraged to begin a practice of taking at least one whole day off every week, ZERO have told me they wanted to go back to working 7 days a week. Working every day is a recipe for burnout! You’ve got to refresh at some point.

      I think the magic is not just the not working but developing the practice of NOT THINKING ABOUT WORK on the day off. That ability to truly turn your attention elsewhere is what’s restorative. Try it, you’ll like it!

    • Lisa Sicard

      I like that, not thinking about work for a day 🙂 I hope to try it out soon. The problem is I get up early, can’t sleep – so I work several hours and then go back to bed before actually getting dressed and ready for the day.

    • Carol Tice

      I don’t see how that keeps you from taking one whole day completely off? Doesn’t matter what schedule you keep — just take one day for rest.

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