5 Challenges I Face Everyday As A Writer

Written By: Sumeetha Manikandan

This entry won the second prize in the IFW Blogging Contest - 2013

Sometime ago, I wrote a light-hearted blog about the mystery of my profession. Many found it funny, some shared their own experiences, while some actually came back and asked, ‘Oh! I didn’t know that you write. So what do you write?”

I get stumped every time someone asks this question and a slideshow of the projects that I have worked so far goes through my brain throwing keywords like; toilet bowls, adult nappies, how to travel to Machu Pichu? What to gift that pesky cousin?
Working freelance is not a breeze and nor is it glamorous by any stretch of imagination. Here is my list of five challenges that I face everyday…

Challenge #1: Finding genuine clients that pay

This is a constant challenge that I have faced all through my career. Finding genuine clients who actually ‘PAY YOU’ for the work you did, is like searching for a needle in the haystack literally. (Ok! I don’t want to scare all those who have started their careers as freelance writers.)

But the truth is that I do come across such clients frequently. They will agree to the price that you quote (without negotiating). Hurray! You will quickly calculate the amount you would make at the end of the project and might have mentally spent it on that new boutique or that new kindle eBook reader that you wanted. So you will slog, slog and slog and deliver everything on time and then send the invoice… and the client will stop taking your calls, stop answering your emails and stop chatting, until you realize that he is avoiding you. And one fine day, after sending the invoice for the umpteenth time, you will stop wasting your time and search for another project hoping that you get a genuine client.

Challenge #2: Time Management and Deadlines

If you thought that a freelancer had all the time in the world, you might have to duck a bit, as a few brickbats might be flying towards you. A freelancer’s life is tied to the clock, all through the day. Right from the time, the day begins, a mental or a digital timetable is forever ON in our brains or computers.

And if those relatives drop in for a chat, or if your friends assume that you are free to babysit their kid, the schedule is lost and we have to make up for the lost hours by losing some sleep.

Challenge #3: Taking on boring projects just to pay the bills

You might love to write about travel articles. But hey no one is paying for those. But a batch of 200 articles about adult nappies and respite care has some money attached to it. So what will you choose?

Of course you would go for adult nappies and try to make them sound as if they are next best thing in the world. You would wax eloquent about the grip, comfort and round it off saying even astronauts wear it.

That’s the truth of it. You can’t choose what you want to write. Many indulge their creative juices by blogging, which is a pretty good way to vent your feelings. But majority of us can’t choose what we want to write. We write what the client (who pays) wants. Period.

Challenge #4: Comments from others and ways to deal with it

You might just shrug it off, get irritated or fly off your handle but you cannot stop people from commenting. Sadly many, even to this day, consider that working on a computer is not as taxing as teaching, working in a hospital or an office.

“So do you have to go all the way to the school and teach rowdy boys and bratty girls all through the day? No.

Do you have to climb up and down the stairs to go from one department to another in the hospital and try save a life? No.

Do you at least go to an office and work? No.

So don’t complain if we think that you are jobless. You don’t go anywhere. You just sit in front of the computer staring, sometimes typing, checking emails, chatting, posting in Facebook. And we know that people who are jobless do that.”

Don’t waste your time answering them saying that you were writing for a Fortune 500 company that is waiting for your content to market their website. There is no need to justify your time on Facebook saying that you were promoting a popular boutique.

Just keep calm and carry on…

Challenge #5: The Dreaded Writer’s Block

It’s a virus, a bug that attacks us at the most inconvenient moment. You are waiting to start on that lucrative project and the client is waiting for your first delivery and then it attacks.

You write… try to write… struggle to write until you are ready to break that laptop.

This is when I invent an emergency and shut off for a day. I don’t read, or write I just watch movies, listen to music, do power walking, play with the kid and basically do some fun things to loosen myself up. And then the next day I wake up early and start writing…

 But of course these are not the only challenges that we face. We come across clients who abuse us and demand that we write like Shakespeare or at least like Chetan Bhagat, clients who call around 12 in the midnight asking us to include a comma in the article….

Despite all that, I do love being a freelancer because in this job, unlike any other, if I don’t like my boss I get to fire him.

 About the author:

Sumeetha Manikandan is a freelance writer, blogger and an author based in Chennai. After a long stint with dotcom companies like Sulekha and Bharatmatrimony, she started freelancing from home.

An avid reader and a writer she is never without a book. She writes a slice of life personal blog called ‘Musings from Mylapore’ where she chronicles the trials and travails of working from home with a fast growing pixy daughter. Sumeetha's first romance novella, 'The Perfect Groom', was recently published by Indireads. Click on the picture to buy your copy.





2 comments:

  1. Ugh, I can relate to all the points you mentioned here. But the one that bugs me the most is the first one. Too many people who want very specific, key word driven 'writing samples' - it took me a long time to realise that for them, it was an easy way to get free writing done! :/

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  2. I so love that line about being able to fire the boss if I don't like them! I have been freelancing full time for only a few months(but I have done it consistently for 2 years approx while pursuing an MA) and I am pretty sure my maid and my relatives think I do nothing all day.

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