Writer's moments

The Feast or Famine Dilemma

Okay, so it’s not truly a dilemma like Kennedy’s Cuban Missile Crisis or whether it’s appropriate to wear my white jeans after Labor Day, but being a freelance editor does often present difficult choices. It seems as if work comes in groups. Sometimes I spend a couple of weeks with no work at all and only a project or two way out on the horizon. When that happens, I start to panic and so I send out little reminders to my clients that I’m still around and available. It’s not a begging for work thing, just a gentle reminder that I’m here if they need an editor.

My clients are terrific—I’m crazy about all of them and mostly, it seems to be mutual because when I send out my notes, I always get a response and at least one of them usually has a project to give me. The dilemma part comes in when I accept a gig from one client and then another offers one and then another. It’s great to be loved and needed, but sadly I have to tell one of them I can’t do their job. Turning them down makes me feel like an idiot because I’m the one who sent them notes telling them I’m ready to work. Sheesh! I may need to rethink my marketing strategy.

I’m not the only one with this issue—seems like this happens to all my freelancing buddies about this time of year. We’re all looking around for work, hoping things will pick up, and stressing over how bills will get paid if income drops. But, somehow, although we grouse and stew, work comes along, and then we’re all grousing and stewing because we’re covered up and can’t take a breath.

What I need to learn is how to use the down time constructively, like, say…writing? Rather than fuss and worry, I should be working on my novels, blogging, checking out other writer’s websites, promoting my book, and catching up on the StoryWonk podcasts. Not griping on the phone to friend Charlie about work being slow, not checking out Facebook or Twitter, and not playing Words with Friends on my new phone.  Heck, I could even start my spring cleaning, pull weeds in the gardens, or pick up sticks in the yard.

Nahhh…where’s the fun in that? Hey, PJ, it’s your turn!


  • Nan

    London, I’d love to only write too! Sadly, there are bills to be paid, so the day job is needed, but I love the freelance life. Sometimes, the money thing is worrisome, but mostly, it’s lovely to work in your jammies and be able to meet friends for lunch if you’re not in a time crunch. All in all, a good thing!

  • robena grant

    I’m sure it is hard to find a balance with the work you do. My guess is to change the thinking around the lulls in paid work, and make them enjoyable as writing time, time for you to do your creative thing.

  • Liz Flaherty

    I just picked up sticks in the front yard as opposed to writing. I was feeling very righteous about it until you made me think–I didn’t really want to write this afternoon. But I will. I’m going, I’m going…