"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Freelance Writing Struggles: Motivation & Encouragement

Freelance Writing Struggles

The last few weeks have been a constant reminder of how mentally draining a freelance writing career can be, and how sometimes the biggest struggles in making it as a freelance writer, or an Internet marketer for that matter, aren't lack of knowledge or difficulty learning the technical aspects of a job but the emotional and motivational struggles that take place. No matter how gung-ho you are about writing as a career, there are simply going to be times where it is hard to get motivated, hard to feel on top of things, and you're going to have times where you really need encouragement and there may not be anyone around to give it to you.

This is a natural ebb and flow of any job, I think, even one that has the many advantages that freelance writing can provide. There are also pressures that come with any freelancing type of employment that can make these ebbs and flows even more pronounced and harder to deal with. One of the major problems that comes up is that life doesn't stop, and you don't have a boss to force you back into work after a long struggle. Recently I've undergone some huge personal tragedies in my family, and we all have the difficulty of getting back into work, getting back into a groove and taking care of what needs to be done. This can be very hard freelancing because of the obvious: there's no clock to punch in, and because of that it's very easy to let becoming despondent or depressed take down your entire business if you let it.

So what do you do in these situations?

I think this is a hard question because individual people vary so much. Believe it or not, and I've had problem employers in the past who seem to not believe this, freelancers are people, too, and each person reacts differently. What motivates me to get back to something as "trite" as work when I'm asking questions about faith, hope, or am firmly in the depressing "what's the point of anything?" mode - what motivates me to keep hammering away and what will motivate me to keep me from stopping and giving up might be completely different from what someone else will use to keep fighting the good fight.

For example, I don't give a crap about money. Now to clarify that: money as a motivator does absolutely nothing for me. That's why goals like "Make $5,000 in a month" don't do me much good because honestly, $5,000 doesn't motivate me more than $3,000, and even $8,000 just looks like another number. But certain things money can buy DO motivate me - such as travel or vacation, or oddly enough - the good feeling I get from my Debt Spreadsheet as I watch the numbers plummet.

But to some people, the money number barriers are very important and might be the biggest motivator. Money doesn't motivate me, but the thought of being able to live comfortably in Tampa, Florida, or Austin, Texas, really does. Others probably couldn't care less about living in either of those cities, but having 10k in the bank account can drive them through brick walls.

And I think this is a good time to talk about anger, because depending on your make up and what your situation is, you might be more inclined towards destructive anger than towards depression. I know based on the situation with my family, we're all hurting badly, but we're all furious at injustice. I want to make one thing clear: anger is not a bad thing in and of itself, and if it motivates you - USE IT!!!

It can be hard to come to terms with this idea because it's against what so many of us are taught since before grade school, but anger can be righteous and it can be used to do good. Do you think Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn't angry about racism? Has there ever been a fight against slavery or inequality that did not involve harnessing anger for a greater good? Those are extreme examples, but if you find yourself angry, PLEASE don't let it become depression and destroy you. Don't let it just flow out without control, scorching everyone around you, either. Hone it. Rage is like fire: it can burn wild and out of control, or it can be concentrated and focused - made even hot enough to bend and work metal like iron or steel.

If you're angry - hone it. Use that energy and motivation to focus in on your work and goals and drastically improve your life and your position, and put you in a place in the future where you will be more capable of helping others, as well.

Sometimes that's the best we can do.

And sometimes all we can do is pull up to the computer, find some motivational videos that give us just enough to start typing, and hammer through the fog, the fear, and the emotional baggage one keystroke, one letter, one article, one assignment, and one blog post at a time. The following couple videos have helped me get back on track and cope day to day. I hope they help anyone else who needs a little extra push, as well.

If you've never listened to Tony Robbins, don't judge like I used to, this is worth hearing:

And some great wisdom from Will Smith. BTW, the book he mentions: The Alchemist, is a fantastic book that I also recommend.

Thank you for the many kind words and comments. More website reviews will be coming up soon, and I hope you are all doing well. Until next time, take care, and keep on fighting for your dreams, no matter what obstacles are getting in the way.


  1. This is a good post, Shane. You're in my thoughts, and I hope you're handling things all right and getting by as best as you can. It sounds like you are.

  2. I completely understand where you're coming from. In fact, if you browse the blogosphere for freelancers, there seems to be an epidemic of distractions and frustrations plaguing the writing community as of late (by which I mean more than usual). Chin up :)


  3. Thanks for the comments, guys, greatly appreciated. I think it is strange how you always hear about "getting through it and moving on," but no one ever tells you there's more than one part to that. The first part is getting over the devastation, or at least getting to a place where you can cope with it. The second part is all the "little" things that aren't little like getting back to work, building a business, taking care of all those errands you put off, etc. That combination of things can really stack up and seem overwhelming at one of your most vulnerable times. Definitely doing my best, although some days are definitely better than others. Appreciate the kind words. Take care.