What Kind of Writer Are You?

My stock photo doppelganger, obvs.

My stock photo doppelganger, obvs.

My writing partner once told me I was the most business-y writer she knew.

To be honest, it hadn’t occurred to me that there was any other way to be.

That was why, when I sent out an LOI last month in response to a call for book reviewers and learned that the position was unpaid,  I told the editor I’d have to regretfully withdraw my hat from the ring. After all, as a professional writer, I use assignments like these to pay my bills. I couldn’t devalue my work by spinning that word glitter for free.

Only a month later, I’m rethinking my response. [Read more…]

Why Your Goals Aren’t Good Enough

iStock_000014911902XSmallEarlier this month, I met up with Susan Johnston of the Urban Muse at the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park. We don’t get to see each other often — she lives in Boston, I live in NJ, and the last time we saw each other was at the ASJA conference back in April — but when we do get together, we often end up chatting about where we are with our freelance writing careers. We take stock of where we’ve been and try to figure out where we’re going.

At the time I saw Susan, I was ghost-tweeting for one client, creating a series of blog posts for another, and ghostwriting a book with a couples counselor. I was also collaborating on an ebook with a fellow word nerd, coaching a beginning freelance writer, and revising my book proposal. As busy as I was, though, I felt adrift.

“What are your goals for 2013?” Susan asked me, and it was a tough question. Finally, I settled upon four:

1. Land a book deal.

2. Start writing the type of stuff I could submit to lit mags.

3. Earn my yoga teaching certification and start teaching classes and planning workshops.

4. Get pregnant.

They were good, solid goals but, out of the four, I’d already set out to achieve two of them in 2012. And I’d failed. [Read more…]

I’m Not Really Much of an Entrepreneur, Am I?

About two years ago, Ryan Paugh approached me about becoming one of the founding members of the Young Entrepreneur Council.

At the time, I had just left behind a permalance gig to focus on building my career coaching practice. Still, I was also juggling a number of writing and copyediting assignments, and singing at funerals for money. I considered myself more of a freelancer than an entrepreneur.

Despite this, I joined the YEC and tried not to compare myself to the other, more awesome members, such as the CEO of DISQUS, the founder and CEO of Klout, the CEO of Hootsuite, the co-founder and CEO of Indiegogo, and the founder of Threadless. I slowly grew into my entrepreneur identity. I created a more cohesive online platform, and brainstormed ways in which I could build out the Word Nerd brand.

Another year passed and I was interviewed by a reporter for the Atlantic, who was doing up an article on solopreneurship.

“Do you consider yourself a solopreneur?” he asked me.

“Absolutely,” I said.

Still, not a month had ever gone by in which I hadn’t experienced Impostor Syndrome. [Read more…]

Choosing to Change Course Doesn’t Mean I Failed… Right?

<— This brilliant illustration perfectly conveys exactly how I’ve been feeling these past couple of months.

I posted about my depression / career-related identity crisis just last week, and am still struggling to scramble my way out of that hole.

Yesterday, I took my laptop to my favorite local cafe and tried to co-work with an old, high school friend of mine. But aside from pinpointing some possible markets for an essay I’d been working on, I couldn’t bring myself to do much else. I just kept sipping my raspberry-flavored Italian soda, staring at my laptop screen, and zoning out.

Then, this morning, I read a piece by Marian Schembari, about prioritizing your real life over your online life. It made me think of another post I’d recently written, about asking yourself: What are you willing not to achieve?

When you’ve been hustling like hell for a really long time, things tend to fall by the wayside. Sometimes, the things that drop to the bottom of your to-do list are your unpaid passion projects, the goals that nourish you, the dreams you really should prioritize. But sometimes, in seeing what you choose to let go — things that perhaps you conceived of as a means of growing your business — you start to realize what’s really most important to you.

[Read more…]

Why I Don’t Want to Have It All

Class started off slow. Instead of sitting cross-legged on our mats, hands resting palms-up on our knees, we rolled up blankets and placed them — lengthwise — beneath our backs. We stretched out, our heads propped up on blocks, our arms flung out to our sides, our eyes closed. We concentrated on the rise and fall of our stomachs. Our chests.

After coming under the gentle spell of our own breath, we rocked forward onto all fours, and then leaned back into child’s pose. Then we slid forward onto our stomachs, where we were told to stretch our arms out above us and rest our foreheads on the floor.

That’s when I felt the tears burning behind my eyelids. They were so sudden, they took me by surprise. I pressed my forehead and nose into my mat, hard. I rocked my head from side to side, allowing my hair to fall around my face. [Read more…]

Why I’m No Longer Fit for an Office Environment

I’m already several hours into my workday, and I’m still unshowered, wearing the pajama top that sometimes slips down so low I unintentionally flash my husband. My hair hangs in oily, unattractive clumps, and I sorta smell. I mean, I’d like to shower, but I’m pretty sure that as soon as I disrobe, that package I’m expecting will arrive.  This is what I get for not rolling out of bed until after 8 a.m., after my husband has already walked out the door to catch a bus into work.

So I’m sitting here at my computer, taking care of small tasks while my brain still lumbers into wakefulness. I’m tweeting and making my way through my inbox and feeling a bit resentful of all the conference calls I’ve had to be on over the past few weeks.

Because god forbid anyone tries to communicate with me via anything but email.

I have another conference call in under an hour, and I wonder what they’d think if they saw me now. Dirty. Barefoot. My slightly disgusting coffee mug at my side, litter underfoot like sand. [Read more…]

How to Let Go of Having It All

In viewing an infographic developed by JESS3 that aims to give readers a peek inside the mind of freelancers, I was completely unsurprised to learn that “lack of clear direction / path” is one of the top three things that keeps freelancers up at night.

I can certainly relate. I’ve recently been engulfed in my own period of ennui. Though I’ve been working on many different things, I’ve been feeling a bit ambivalent about it all. As I asked my husband just the other day, “What the hell am I even working toward!?

(I also suggested that I might do better as a housewife, but Michael just rolled his eyes and told me I’d snap out of it soon.)

Part of this is probably due to stress over unsuccessful IUI treatments, the continuing short sale process, and the up-in-the-air status of my book.

But could it also be that — gasp! — I’m just doing too much? [Read more…]

How To Handle a Career Setback with Finesse

I started writing about my attempts to get pregnant a little over two years ago, in May 2010. I had been asked to launch a parenting blog for YourTango, and the timing seemed fortuitous. By September 2011, however, I was writing about infertility, and my husband and I had made our first appointment at a fertility clinic about a half hour away.

After a long series of tests, we finally started a medication cycle early last month. Michael injected me every evening with a medication designed to boost follicular growth. Almost every other morning, I woke up early to drive to the fertility center, where I received bloodwork and an ultrasound. After being artificially inseminated, I started taking progesterone pills twice a day, which made me break out to an extent reminiscent of my junior high years (sigh).

This past Sunday, I woke up early once again to get my last bit of bloodwork. This one would be a pregnancy test. [Read more…]

Create the Life You Want… Not the One You Think You Should Want

Almost two weeks ago, I was on the phone with a reporter from a national magazine, talking about solopreneurship and personal branding. We were having a lovely chat — though I felt like a bit of a spaz; that’s why I’m a writer, you guys — when he asked me about my income.

“I make about $30k a year,” I told him.

“You can live on that!?” he asked.

I mentioned that I was lucky enough to have a husband who made way more money than me, so that I could create a life in which I only worked part-time hours. I told him I was building a career in which I could stay home with my future (as-yet-unconceived) children and not take a huge, unprepared-for blow to my paycheck. And if I needed more money, I said, I could always hustle a helluva lot more instead of sitting back and letting the work come to me (which is my current, lazy-ass m.o.).

He asked me what I’d do if a media company offered me a staff position at $75k.

“I’d turn it down,” I said. “No question.”

“What about $100k?” he asked.

“Nope,” I said. “I never want to give this up.”

Two days later, my bread-winning husband lost his job. [Read more…]

Why You Should Change Your Definition of Success

I started freelancing full-time almost five years ago. At the time, success meant matching my previous income, and saying yes to every project that came my way. As a result, I found myself working nights and weekends, skipping meals, and pushing exercise to the very bottom of my to-do list, where it never got done.

These days, success means being pickier about projects, preparing home-cooked meals with my husband, and having time for both my personal book project and my daily yoga classes. I have the potential to make more money… but the other stuff comes first.

Which is why I love Laura Vanderkam‘s work. In both 168 Hours and her most recent book, All the Money in the World, she shows readers that they don’t necessarily need more time or money to achieve a successful and fulfilling life. They just need to know how to spend what they already have.

In this Q+A, Laura shows us how we should redefine success. [Read more…]