Article Assignments: Why Do I Keep Saying Yes?

So one of my best clients emailed me toward the end of last summer to offer me two major article assignments. The pay was relatively good, and I was skilled at the type of research and interviewing that would be required.

I hesitated, however, to accept the work, as I estimated that it  would fill my working time for the next four months. I wouldn’t be able to accept other assignments, prospect for new assignments or clients, or–most important–devote time to my favorite new project.

You see, I had  spent much of the summer working on my first young adult novel, and I was having a blast. I loved the freedom of fiction writing. I loved making stuff up, which was refreshing after so many years of stressing accuracy and sticking to the facts. I found my characters fascinating, especially my spunky 11-year-old protagonist, and I loved throwing obstacles at her and figuring out how she would get through.

Still, as a working writer, I couldn’t see turning down the work. I needed the paychecks. I wanted the money. I promised myself that I would work for the four months–but then I would slow down and give myself the luxury of time to work on my novel.

So now the four months are now almost over, I’ve got just two more days’ work at the most, and the reward of time to write fiction is so close, I can taste it.

And then, out of the blue, So another client called yesterday to offer me a basic product story. What do you think I did?

You’re right — I said yes.

Why.

Of course, a big part of it is the paycheck. I can’t deny that. But I think there’s more.

I think I said yes partly because I always overestimate the time it will take me to do stuff. I’m often convinced that I can make time to both do my paying work and have my writing fun. The truth is, I rarely do. The paying work always takes over.

I also think I said yes partly because even though I complain a lot about tedious assignments, the truth is I get a kick out of article writing — interviewing business executives, motivating them to reveal some tidbit of news or surprising comment, boiling down research into the assigned wordcount, hearing “good job!” from an editor.

But I think I also said yes because writing fiction is so…unpredictable. It takes a lot out of you. Maybe it’s because I’m new at it and I’m not very good, but it sometimes feels like an uphill battle to get started on a page. Once I get going, it becomes great fun, but before I sit down at the computer, I feel so doubtful. Will I write something great today? Am I getting anywhere? Would anyone else love this the way I do? Is this just a big time waster?

I don’t have those fears with my paid work.

Still, if I keep pushing off my fiction, I’ll never find out if it could amount to anything at all.

I see the days and weeks and months passing, and I wonder if I’m spending my time in the best way, or just the safest way.

How do you choose the way to spend your writing time?

Another conflicted day in the life of just another working writer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Responses to “Article Assignments: Why Do I Keep Saying Yes?”

  1. custom paper Says:

    Such a small think. 😉 But such a great idea

  2. danbracewell Says:

    I feel your pain. I used to work in an industry that was stressful and at times extremely time consuming. Somehow I still managed to put together a full blown story in about six months. The way I did it was I thought about my story a lot driving to and from work or when walking around during a break at work. I’d then go home and make myself write down what I had thought of during the day. Sometimes it was a sentence. Sometimes it was three pages. But before long, the first draft was done. I was stunned by what I had accomplished in what seemed like such a short amount of time. I learned a lot about the writing process during this time! All I can say is set realistic goals, hang in there, and yes, you can do it!

    • justanotherworkingwriter Says:

      Thanks for your note–what I’m taking away from it is that I can’t choose between paid writing and fun writing — I need to do both. It takes a lot of discipline to do the kind of pre-writing you did while driving, etc. But I think many writers work well under pressure and end up being able to accomplish a lot more than they would have expected. Hope I’m one of them!

  3. term papers Says:

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  4. custom essays Says:

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