Earlier this summer, I committed to streamlining.
To give you some context, here’s a little #flashbackfriday action from my May/June monthly goals post…
… she gave me some great advice. “You can’t keep adding and adding and adding,” she said. “At a certain point, you need to subtract a few things. It sounds like you’re scared to do that.” And she’s right. I am! It took me so long to establish myself as a writer and to get my income up to a place where it rivals what I was making in my corporate job that I can’t help but feel some innate sense of failure at the mere thought of unloading any one of my gigs… even if doing so will make room for bigger and better opportunities. These are some seriously tough calls, friends.
In the weeks and months since I shared that, I’ve been making those tough calls. I stopped writing on a weekly basis for one outlet, in particular — an outlet that had given me great, consistent work and had afforded me the opportunity to rack up lots of fun bylines, but that demanded a more structured system based on hours instead of stories. The system had put on a strain on my freelancing flow from the beginning, but I went with it, anyway… until I realized that I was no longer feeling challenged by the work. By the time I made that realization, I had brought on some other clients that helped beef up my regular monthly income and had made plans for the podcast — a project l knew would only take up more of my time going forward. I had also more or less stopped working on my book entirely, and had barely been pitching to new editors and outlets because the schedule was so restrictive and I had to spend so much time scrambling to meet my existing commitments.
When I read all of this back, I realize just how right I was in making the decision to stop writing regularly for this outlet when I did (even though the team was awesome and I miss them!).
Still, I’m not a quitter, and it was hard for me not to think of streamlining as simply giving up.
It’s been a few weeks since I made this major change to my schedule, and I thought I’d share a bit more about how the transition has been going. If you’re like me and have trouble saying “no” to things or offloading commitments, here’s what you can expect…
First, I felt overwhelmed by, well, change. Change isn’t always the easiest thing for me to deal with, and any time I have to make a major adjustment to my schedule, it shakes me up a little. I launched The SSR Podcast the week after I quit working for the outlet I mentioned above, so all at once, I had a lot of newly free hours on my hands and was also trying to figure out how the heck to simultaneously produce and promote a show of my own! After spending so many months as a new freelancer trying to fill those hours productively, it was unsettling to feel like I was back at square one again… even though I knew wasn’t really.
Still, I knew it had been the right decision. If it hadn’t been for the looming podcast launch, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to streamline, even though I knew I would eventually need to make some major changes to my workload so I could free up time to challenge myself with new writing opportunities. Since I had a new project to throw myself into at that moment, I didn’t have to stress as much about whether or not it was the “right time” for me to pivot. The podcast was taking up so much of my time (especially in those early weeks, when I had almost no idea what I was doing!), that I couldn’t even imagine juggling it with all the work I’d been doing for the outlet I’d quit. It was satisfying to realize that trusting my instincts had been the right call.
I realized that I could be proud of myself… for a few reasons. First of all, when I stepped back from the self-imposed guilt I was feeling about “giving up” any part of my writing workload, I saw that it was actually pretty cool that I’d reached a point in my freelancing career where I had the ability — financially, primarily — to make some decisions. When I first started in this world, I was hungry for work and didn’t have the luxury to discriminate or turn down opportunities. I hope that I maintain some of that hunger always (I definitely still feel it!), but when I figured out that the choice to streamline was something I’d earned, I allowed myself a quick pat on the back. I was also proud that I’d finally said “no” to something, because it’s not something I do often in my work!
I worked my butt off. I had no problem filling in those extra hours. For a few weeks in the middle of this summer, I was working 12- and 13-hour days every day. At that point, it was genuinely unclear how I’d had anything else on my plate previously.
Now, I’m giving myself some space to figure out what happens next. I’m now a month beyond the launch of the podcast, and the tasks that were taking me so long to complete early on are starting to become more routine. I’ve figured out a workflow and rhythm for the SSR-related work, as well as how to slot it in around my freelancing jobs. Now, I’m seeing some of that time free up again, and I’m trying to be patient with myself as I figure out how to spend it. I’m already back in a better pattern of working on my book and pitching new projects, so what happens next? Do I focus on up-leveling the podcast? Do I put my head down and try to churn out the first draft of my novel (finally)? Do I get even more relentless about seeking new writing opportunities? Honestly, I’m not quite sure yet how it’s all going to work, and while I’ve had moments over the last week or so when that’s felt weird, I’m trying to remind myself that it doesn’t need to get figured out all at once. I’m still busy, I’m still earning a steady income, and it’s summer! Which means most other people out there aren’t making big decisions, either : )
I’m heading to the beach with family for a few days this weekend, but I’ll be right back here Monday to announce the winner of the July giveaway! The prize is a $25 gift card to BaubleBar! All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post here. There are just a few days left, so don’t miss out.
Do you have anything fun planned for the weekend? Tell me all about it in the comments below!