Winter of your discontent? 6 steps to fighting freelancer’s funk
You start to have doubts about seeing through your new year’s resolutions . . .
It’s when bills pile up . . . deadlines start to loom . . . your belly flab hasn’t shrunk noticeably . . . and colds and flus catch you unawares.
The sparkle of the holidays has disappeared and you feel a little deflated.
And - ah yes – Valentine’s Day brings a bittersweet reminder of both the loves in your life . . . And the challenges to loving and being lovable.
It’s an easy time to get lost in a funk. And this can be particularly tough if you’re a writer.
- Once a funk starts brewing it can chase away your Muse, seep into your freelance business and bring it to a standstill.
Writing requires you to put your whole mind into it. It’s pretty hard to transfer words to page when a whole bunch of unruly thoughts are knocking around inside your mind and tugging at your heart.
When life’s distractions start to occupy your mind, it can suck up your productivity like a black hole.
I know – I’ve been there. See, I recently went through a pretty good funk.
All the discipline and structure I’d set up to keep my freelance health copywriting business and larger life clipping along at a good pace went flying out the window. I was unable to keep my focus on projects or get work done effectively. It felt like I had hit the Everest of writer’s block.
I kept plugging along but eventually I had to pay attention to this messy stuff that didn’t fit into my neat business plan and calendar. And I needed to take care of it.
The distractions were not business related – personal baggage, family stuff and concerns about my mother’s health. Nonetheless they had everything to do with my freelance writing success since they made it impossible for me to work with the focus and pace my business demanded.
In essence, taking care of them had everything to do with taking care of my business.
- Here’s what I did, step-by-step, so that within a couple months I was back in gear.
And here’s the beautiful thing: Despite the fact I had to defer some jobs while I sorted through things, my business benefited in the long run.
I was able to return to writing with a clear head and a stronger voice.
I was energized and ready to go back to work full throttle. Which meant that – thanks to some aggressive marketing – I was soon booked solid several months in advance.
Best of all, I had regained solid ground with my children and spouse. I was healthier and trimmer. And I had been able to help my mother make some much-needed changes that made her safer and happier.
Fight The Funk Step #1 – Take a step back from business as usual.
Get away from distractions and let your mind ramble a bit. And I really mean get away from distractions.
We rarely give ourselves “empty space” and time to let our thoughts surface. It’s so easy to distract ourselves with all our electronic information.
- Clear some headspace. Even if you just take half an hour to sit with your eyes closed and ponder what’s eating you.
- And ease off the gas a bit. You still need to discipline yourself to keep things going at a reduced pace. You still have to slowly increase the pressure on the gas pedal as the weeks go on – even when your heart isn’t ready for it.
But prioritize and cut out what you can. Clear some time to listen to the internal mumblings that are fast becoming insistent yells.
- I guarantee: The productivity you lose now will come back in a roaring flood once you’ve taken on the source of your funk.
Fight The Funk Step #2: Hone in on the problem and reflect.
- Ask yourself: What’s getting to me? What issues have come up that I shoved to the back of my mind and replaced with work?
Also, make sure you reflect on the good things in your life. Often enough when you look at the good things, the tough things become less daunting. This is not about being Pollyanna-ish. But perspective can help you keep your energy up and focus it where it’s needed.
Reflect and take notes. But don’t get stuck here. Too much reflection can be counter-productive.
- Action restores a sense of control and positive momentum.
Fight The Funk Step #3: Brainstorm your solution.
Figure out how you can solve the problem or issue and create a step-by-step action plan. What action can you take to solve it? Do you need to enlist some help? Do you need to confront someone? Do you need to make some changes?
- Focus on moving towards action and change.
And even if you feel the problem can’t be solved by you, there usually is some action you can take to live more effectively and comfortably with the problem.
- Figure out what you can do to regain some control. How can you gain the peace of mind that you did your part to resolve things?
Brainstorm. Be creative. Don’t nix any potential solutions outright. Allow yourself to look at different options.
But keep moving forward. Turn this into . . .
Fight The Funk Step #4: Create an action plan.
Starting with your desired outcome, go backwards and map out step by step how to get there.
Make the steps doable. Think about what you need to put in place to get from one place to the other.
- Most importantly, make sure it starts with something you can do just about immediately so you can move into the action phase of getting out of your funk.
Fight The Funk Step #5: Schedule your action plan and commit to it.
Use a calendar or a list to schedule your steps. And then commit.
- This is key.
When we’re emotionally drained it’s hard to muster up the energy to get things done. By scheduling actions you save yourself tons of energy.
You just do it. No debate. No internal quizzing about whether you feel up for it. Just do it.
Fight The Funk Step #6: Keep yourself fueled.
Your best bet for taking care of business (and I mean everything – family, emotional, writing, and more) is to have the physical capacity to do this.
Make sure you make healthy habits a part of your day:
- Get some exercise in every day. Even if it’s just some jumping jacks every few hours, exercise will give you energy and shift your mood. Making exercise part of your morning routine is an especially good way to get a little action in. It sets the tone for the entire day and gives you a burst of can-do attitude.
- Eat well. Caffeine, sugars and too many carbohydrates will just drag you down – emotionally and energy-wise. Snack on good proteins, lots of vegetables and fruits.
The work of writing requires substantial brain food. (Notice how you get the munchies when working on a project?) Your brain uses up about a ¼ of your total calorie intake – more when you’re concentrating hard. So make feeding your brain right a priority.
Remind yourself that each bite is an act of regaining control over your situation.
And enjoy your food. Use mealtimes to relax and recharge.
- Get your sleep. When I got dragged down by a funk I was pushing it in terms of sleep. This only contributes to a short wick and inability to focus. Do what you can to get 7-8 hours of snoozing in.
Fight The Funk And Get Back To Work!
You can find all kinds of tricks and techniques for conquering writer’s block. But sometimes none of them will do because something deeper is getting in the way.
All too often we’re told that we’re being irresponsible, undisciplined or lazy if we step back from business a bit to restore our focus. But as I’ve found – and you will too if you follow this plan – stepping back can help you leap forward.
Put this plan to use and you’ll be able to restore your business and your enthusiasm for your work as a writer.
About Sarah Clacher
A proud graduate of the SuccessWorks’ SEO Copywriting Certification training program, Sarah Clacher has combined her expertise in health and her experience running a freelance health copywriting business into a special resource for home biz owners, freelancers and solopreneurs. Her website, Your Healthy Home Biz, provides inspiration and a system for transforming your workday so you can run your home business without running yourself into the ground.
Did you enjoy this post? Do you want more details on how to energize and transform your work day? Get your FREE Fight The Funk Action Kit and special report, The Simplest Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Business, Your Waistline And Your Life at Your Healthy Home Biz: Fight the Funk.