Know Thyself: Strategies

Unless you are a deep introvert, you might feel isolated at times as a freelancer. If you do, here are some strategies: Work sometimes in a café, just to be around people. Rent a desk or carrel in a co-working space. Join critique groups or professional groups to connect with others in the industry. Use the phone sometimes rather than email. Go to bookstore readings early and browse rather than turning to Amazon.

No matter whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, there are definite downsides to the bossless office. It’s hard not to get feedback when you work hard. And it can be tough to measure your own progress. Find a way to set goals, then check in with yourself to see how many you’ve met or to readjust your expectations. Construct an “ego wall” to hang images of successful publication. Take an editor to lunch.

When you don’t have a salary, you don’t have raises. But you can raise expectations for what you should be earning, and you can learn to negotiate effectively. Say no to nonpaying work. Ask for a little more pay – or reimbursement for some expenses – when you've worked successfully with an editor for a while.

Finally, set boundaries with people in your life. Ask friends to call you at home at night, not on your work number during the day. Don’t do lunch with friends, which can cut into a productive workday. Do tea and sympathy, or, better yet, dinner. Consider adding a message to your voicemail or email letting folks know that to keep up a writing schedule you try to answer messages only at the end of the day. Keep family bills, personal letters, and grocery lists out of your writing space.