When I started writing online, my daughter was a baby. Today, as my business has grown, so has she and surprisingly, has taught me several important lessons along the way. Freelancing, they say, is not child’s play but one can surely learn a thing or two from kids.
Here are 5 things that I learned about being a better, more productive writer and business owner from my toddler:
Do Just One Thing
Although I prided myself on being mindful and quite focused, I really learnt about uni-tasking or actually doing just one thing from my toddler. It was when I observed her playing with her toy cars that I realized how focused she was on them. She wasn’t rushing around the room picking up her dolls, coming back to her cars, going away again to the toy kitchen. She would play with her cars and only when she was done playing with them, she moved on to her other toys.
Freelance Lesson: Focus on the task at hand. It is easy to get distracted by email, research turning into a surfing session, household chores, a phone call or a social visit. Focusing takes practice but once you master it, you do so much more in much less time. Try it.
Exploring a New Way
Whenever my daughter would be stuck with a puzzle or with a new task, like wearing her shoes, she wouldn’t hesitate even slightly in trying out something different. It resulted in many hilarious situations but it never fazed her confidence in exploring a new way each time “her way” didn’t turn out right.
Freelance Lesson: What part of your business feels stuck? Finding new clients or getting repeat business? Think hard about how you can change your strategy. This happened with me when we were faced with a family financial challenge and I had to take a good, hard look at how I was using my talent as a writer. I had to explore new ways of making money – business blogging, social media management and web copywriting, and it took some experimenting, but the efforts paid off.
Reaching Out to Others
We are lucky to be blessed with a sociable toddler. When she started preschool, she was one of the friendliest kids in the class, making friends with ease and even, today, she has a wider social circle than sadly what her mother has!
Freelance Lesson: Make friends, reach out to others, be helpful. Working online can very quickly isolate you from the world. It is easy to get cut off while you spend hours at the laptop. So, I made it a point to reach out to others in my community – both online and offline. It did mean letting a few things go, like reading as many blogs as I used to. But I didn’t miss that. I enjoyed nurturing the relationships I was forming, with other moms, writers and bloggers online as well as with friends offline. So, spend some time making friends. You’ll be a more enriched writer –professionally, socially and personally, at the end of the day.
Dealing with Rejection
I’d shared recently on my blog about how my sociable daughter deals with rejection of her overtures of friendship. Yes, it happens in the preschool world. She gets hurt but bounces back and is ready to make friends again in next to no time.
Freelance Lesson: Being a freelancer means dealing with rejection. A client may not like the copy you’ve written. A magazine (or five) may turn down your article queries. Rejection happens in our world more often than one can imagine. Don’t let it break your spirit. I use social excuses to help my daughter deal with rejection and I use freelance excuses to overcome my own. “Maybe my article wasn’t a perfect fit for the editorial calendar, let me do a bit of research and see if I can find a magazine that will accept the article ”, is a freelance excuse I use whenever rejected by a magazine. You can make your own freelance excuses and use them to deal with rejection and bounce back a better, stronger writer.
Asking for Help
“Mama, I can’t do this. Please help me” is a phrase that I hear at least 10 times during the day. It doesn’t bother my toddler at all that she is reaching out to me for help. She watches me closely as I buckle her shoes or repeat a nursery rhyme for the nth time. The next time she tries it first on her own, if she can’t manage it, she asks for help...again.
Freelance Lesson: Freelancing can be tough, especially when you’re starting out. Don’t hesitate about asking for help. I reached out to several bigger, better writers and asked questions. Surprise! All of them answered with helpful, encouraging advice. There are several ways in which you can get help – ask more experienced writers, join a community or forum for professional writers, read good books on the subject. Don’t be disheartened when you don’t hear from someone. Instead, focus on your business and look for help elsewhere.
Asking for help is where it all comes together – reaching out, trying different ways, dealing with rejection and focusing on the task at hand. If you are starting out or stuck in a rut with your writing business, I recommend starting with asking for help. Do it and see if it doesn’t turn your writing life around.
Meanwhile, do share what have you learnt about being a freelance writer from your kids.