Your Writing Business – How to Rekindle the Romance

No matter how much you love your writing business, there are days, weeks and months when you don’t feel motivated. To be fair, this can happen at different stages. For me, it’s happened:

Your Writing Business – How to Rekindle the Romance

  • when I was starting out and realized how much work I’d have to do to have a sustainable income at the pitiful rates some people were offering for writing services.
  • when I’d successfully landed some add-on services and realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do.
  • when I’d been working so hard that I could barely muster a creative thought.

This last one comes up from time to time and is closely related to burnout. There’s a definite sense that you’re on some sort of writing treadmill and you daren’t hit the stop button in case you go flying off the end, tanking your writing business or career.

So how do you beat those blues and fall in love with writing again? I’ve tried lots of things:

  • playing hooky for an afternoon to curl up with my favorite book or taking a longer break if I need it.
  • shooting the breeze with other freelance friends and exchanging tales of woe.
  • powering through and trying to ignore the feeling (trust me, this doesn’t work; it only gets bigger).

Reassessing Your Writing Business

The first two might help for a while, but what if the malaise runs deeper? What if you have the feeling that you’ve taken a wrong turn in your business? You know what I say? So what if you have? It’s not a world-ending mistake. Just take a deep breath and start again. For me, that process involves:

  • assessing what I like and dislike about the business I have today.
  • thinking about how to stage an exit from the aspects I dislike.
  • planning for marketing to win more of the business I like.

The assessment part is the most important and it’s equally important to be honest. This is not about what you FEEL you should do; it’s about what you WANT to do. Let’s face it: we freelance and run our own businesses because we want a certain kind of life. If our business isn’t serving that goal, what is it for? Dare to dream about what your ideal business and work schedule might look like, then work out how to make it happen.

Sometimes it can be scary to let go a part of your business, but I like to think of it as making room for something else to come in. This has worked for me every single time (though I’ll admit that sometimes it takes a while for the new improved replacement to show up). And you don’t even have to risk alienating your current clients. You already know a few people who do what you do – one of them might love the bit you hate. Sound them out, get their agreement and then present your client with a plan for a phased withdrawal of your services, complete with integration of your replacement – everyone’s happy.

Then there’s the third part: thinking about the aspects of your business that make you happy. For me – and I suspect for most writers – it’s that happy marriage of getting paid well to write about something that really interests you.

Here’s what you can do today:

  • Look through your clips and find the ones that you really enjoyed, then move them to the top of your portfolio or samples list.
  • Link to a great example in your email signature.
  • Share another via social media, especially LinkedIn, where all the business people (read: potential clients) hang out.

Let people see the work you can do that you want to do more of. That’s marketing, baby, and it’s relatively easy. You know what else I do? In addition to sharing my articles regularly, every now and then I’ll resurrect a well-trafficked post and talk about what I enjoyed about it – you never know who might be listening.

My 2013 Writing Biz Reboot

As it happens, I’m in the middle of a reboot myself, after feeling a bit jaded towards the end of last year. I’ve focused on a few areas to grow and change my writing business in 2013.

First, I’m going to improve my marketing skills via taking part in the Play at Home version of Prosperity’s Kitchen and a couple of Facebook groups dealing with marketing.

That will help with my second goal: to get that dratted course finished and launched, finally!

Third, to work more with a few of the really nice clients I started working with in the last quarter of the year, who are really a dream come true, work-wise.

Get all three of those right and I’ll have improved income and work-life balance in 2013. I’m already feeling inspired and am loving the writing biz once again. How do you beat the motivational blues?

This post is part of the awesomeness that is the Word Carnival, originated by the fabulous Tea Silvestre, the Word Chef. Click the link to read more posts on this month’s theme: Beat The Motivation Blues: Reboot, Re-Energize And Learn To Love Your Business Again.

Image: Vectorportal

About Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall has been mentoring writers here at Get Paid To Write Online since 2005 to help them improve and build sustainable and successful writing careers. Check me out on Feel free to connect with me online on Google+.


  1. Tea Silvestre says:

    What?! You were feeling jaded? I never noticed, Sharon. You’re always so upbeat and positive. Glad to have you in the kitchen tho.
    You’ve shared some powerful advice for reassessing ones biz purpose!

    • Good to know it didn’t show, Tea; I wouldn’t want to bring anyone else down. I’m enjoying the Kitchen – it’s making me reassess things and also find new ways to express them. Good stuff or should I say “awesome sauce”, since it’s a kitchen and all! 😉

  2. Sharon, this is perfect. I have a friend who’s expressed that deeper malaise you speak of. I’m sending him this post.

    Great idea to reassess and find those things that make you happy. 🙂

  3. There’s my twin sharing our story. 😉 I am still trying to get beyond doing what I think I should be doing to doing what I want to do. I’m trying to blend the two so the first brings in consistent income and the second stirs my romance. I hope to be married to the second some day. 😉

  4. Aha! You and I said something quite similar: you could power through a bad time and ignore it but that won’t work. It could make things worse! Of course, I had myself a temper tantrum and you said it nicely but the point is there 🙂 You can’t ignore yourself when you feel something is going wrong. You have to trust yourself. AND to your very perfect point: stop worrying about what you think you SHOULD do and do what you WANT.

  5. I think most freelance writers experience this Sharon.

    Recently I’ve focused more on getting the projects I like most and that pay well. I spent an hour or so on Monday morning contacting my best clients from last year and asking for more work. Two new projects so far, both very interesting!

  6. Can I just say a big fat “AMEN” to that whole “go with what you want to do, not what you feel like you OUGHT to do” thing? Ugh. How many mistakes in my life and business history have been made solely because I did the latter, not the former? The mind reels. No more! I love that you emphasize moving past the malaise with a simple (but profound, and sometimes profoundly difficult) strategy.

    • We’ve all made those mistakes, Annie, so don’t sweat it! 🙂 The strategy is simple – we just have to avoid over-complicating it with shoulda-woulda-couldas.

  7. Sharon,

    Great points here — I’ve decided that multitasking, and a lack of focus in general, kills creativity and your brain’s ability to effectively focus in the first place. When everything is urgent, important, and needs attention it becomes really difficult to prioritize.

    That becomes impossible to manage for solopreneurs. And worse still, most solopreneurs are wicked good at more than one thing; everybody has a lot of cool talents to pool together, and not ALL of them belong in the workspace. It keeps you chasing your tail most of the day as opposed to chasing the right project the right work, etc. It also makes making decisions that much harder, if you don’t know which project should take priority, you get frozen.

    A great mentor and boss once told me: action precedes clarity. That is, do something before you know what you’re doing. What you’re supposed to be doing will clarify itself really quickly.

    • It’s true, Nick, when I really want to get something done, focusing on it for just 30 minutes gets me further than trying to do multiple things. Having said that, as a confirmed polymath, I reserve the right to be interested in lots of things, even if I have to tackle them sequentially. 😀

  8. Great advice on powering up rather than powering through. I agree with Annie on the do what you want to do and a big yes to finding new dream clients by knowing which ones are the best for your business and personality.

    • Dream clients are definitely something I’m learning more about as time passes, Claire. Sometimes just assessing how you feel when you have to contact a particular client or start a job for him/her can tell you whether that’s a relationship you want to keep.

  9. I so agree on this one: “when I’d been working so hard that I could barely muster a creative thought.” and then you mention burnout. I just recently realized that’s where I was and deciding to change things up is helping. It really wasn’t until I decided to change things up that I realized what I was going through. I so appreciate your energy, you are always encouraging and patient as well as your advice is always spot on and timely. I appreciate you and this wonderful post as always!

    • Thanks, Michelle; glad you found it helpful. Sometimes it’s useful to step away for a while and give yourself time to breathe – I think you referred to this in your Word Carnival post.

  10. love it.. can I just adopt your goals?

  11. Sharon, you hit all the nails on the head with this post. Everything you wrote reminded me that if we did an in-depth review of our clients (work), most of us would find that the 80/20 maxim is fully realisable. Twenty percent of our clients are great and give us 80 percent of our return. Not just income either, but a return on our time and creative energy. Whereas 80 percent of our clients (or work) keep us dancing on hot coals for a paltry 20 percent return. It doesn’t figure that we should ever keep working for the 80 percent, but sometimes it is really hard to say no.

    When you consider the wasted time, demotivation and burn out associated with doing work for these clients, we owe it to ourselves to find our dream clients. Then we can ‘smell the roses’ in the time we have which is no longer being wasted for little return. Thank you for reminding us of that.

    • Identifying the common characteristics of the 20% and looking for more of the same is the key to professional happiness, Sandy – thanks for reminding us about the 80/20 rule.

  12. Sharon I think I may frame this statement “This is not about what you FEEL you should do; it’s about what you WANT to do.” For me it’s the attack of the shoulds. I should do this, I should do that, even I should want to do this.

    While I still struggle with my shoulds it’s definitely getting better. After becoming a published author, and finally embracing the label of writer, I suddenly felt like I should take on all sorts of writing projects. What I’ve realized is many leave me cold and uninspired. Those are going out with my 2012 calendar.

  13. Love this quote: This is not about what you FEEL you should do; it’s about what you WANT to do.

  14. Sharon, I first have to apologize for commenting late in the game (ie, a long while after the Word Carnival publish date)…my kids have been extremely busy lately, and have taken their turns at being sick. Oy.

    Anyway, I LOVE your “assess, think, plan” prescription. It seems so…concrete and accessible. So practical, and I’m gonna do it THIS WEEK. Or next. :/

    • No need to apologize, Evan; life happens. 🙂 I love concrete plans – they’re so eminently doable (if only I’d do them, right?) So far, the strategy is working. I’m gradually making improvements and am feeling more positive.

  15. Sharon, I started writing 10 years ago, extremely happy. I would like to make more money. Like you say; the key is enjoy what your doing and I do.