Planning Ahead

You put your nose to grindstone and you suddenly look up and days, even a week, can flash by.

That’s pretty much what’s been happening since I am attempting to complete lots of different things before Deb and I take our vacation in less than a week (that too has snuck up on us).

As I’ve discussed previously, a larger-than-expected percentage of a freelance writer’s time is spent seeking the next assignment. After all, as I outlined this fall, expected work didn’t begin as planned and I was caught short on work with attached income.

After the SFWA reception, I was in touch with an editor I had met but she has yet to respond so a door opened and closed quickly there. At the same time, though, a door I thought was permanently closed, cracked open a wee bit as the acquiring editor changed. So, a proposal from fall 2008 is finally being read by someone in a position to actually buy the thing.

Also, Dynamic Forces seems pretty happy with the work I did on the Howard Chaykin Retrospective so we’re talking about my doing similar efforts for other artists. Just this week, we settled on the follow-up and suddenly, I have someone new to research and prepare to work on in January. The way the schedule is filling up, it will be the assignment that will replace the ghost project on my calendar.

Meantime, I spent the better part of the last week doing the actual research for the ghost project which allowed me to draft a sample chapter for review. My editor liked it enough to send off so that was encouraging. I can now spend the next few days beginning to draft subsequent chapters until the Guy decides he likes my writing or has changes or fires me.

Being honest with your editors is another lesson I’ve imparted in the past. That includes an open line of communication so I just sent off a round of reminders to everyone I’m actively working with, spelling out which days I’ll be away from the desk and noting that while I may be crazy enough to check e-mail while away, I will not be doing active work. As a result, if they need something, they know to rush requests to me now or wait until I get back which, of course, smacks up against the final two weeks of 2009 when most business slows down.

This way, I can deal with delayed requests from my patient editors or can forge ahead on the second issue of my DC project or continue on the ghost project.

Planning your schedule in advance is a tremendous tool to maximize your work (and subsequently your income). I was always amazed when Mike Friedman would waltz into my DC office, deliver a script and know six months in advance when he’d had an opening for additional assignments. These days, I employ those very lessons he taught me and use them to good effect.

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