Friday, July 23, 2010

New FreelanceZone post up

In the interest of turning a negative experience into a positive, educational one, I posted "9 rules of effective voicemail messages" to FreelanceZone this morning. Certainly email remains the best tool of reaching out to someone (in my opinion) but voice-to-voice still has its place for the freelancer trying to make contact with a client or interview source.

Things will be quiet, well, actually complete silent, around here next week, as I'm journeying out for some much-needed, no electronics R&R. And if you haven't taken a vacation in recent memory because you're a sole proprietor and think the world will end without your presence, take a quick refresher at my post from last year—"Vacation, all I ever wanted"—and start making plans!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Are you done yet?"

Based (very!) loosely on a recent client experience. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty. And I've given the, uh, actor playing me a lovely head of blond hair.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Apologizing when you blow it

This morning's post by Dan Smith at All Freelance Writing, "How to Turn Down a Freelance Job Professionally and Respectfully," hit home with me, because this week I blew it—failing to deliver a new-project estimate after a few weeks had elapsed. It fell off my radar while excuses piled up in my head: I've been super busy, the project was a bit outside my comfort zone, did I really want to add another microclient...and so on. The longer I waited, the more my anxiety increased and the less I wanted to do anything.

Let's just state for the record, however, that "Not responding at all" doesn't qualify as professional or respectful, even if it's a tiny job for an unknown prospect. I've been doing this long enough that I should have known to use two of the items Dan mentions—explain why you can't do it and offer an alternative—to simply say, "No, but thank you for your interest, I'm all booked up." I'm still not sure why I didn't heed my instincts that I already had too much on my plate.

So here's what I wrote and emailed this morning:
Dear Mr. X:

I need to apologize for not getting back to you. I won't make excuses, but simply wanted to email and say that I am sorry. I strive to hold myself to a higher professional standard than what I've shown you, but have fallen far short in this case.

If you prefer to take another direction, I completely understand, and I wish you the best in your pursuits. If not, please give me a call.

Thank you for your understanding,

Short, to the point, sans excuses. I don't know if I'll hear back from him or not, but apologizing cleared my own head of guilt, even while it serves as a reminder to myself that 1) I'm not perfect and 2) a fellow businessperson deserves to be treated better than that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Who do you write like?

Found this nifty little Tuesday time-waster from fellow writer Nate Hansen:
I Write Like.
Check what famous writer you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them to those of the famous writers.
Any text in English will do: your latest blog post, journal entry, Reddit comment, chapter of your unfinished book, etc. For reliable results paste at least a few paragraphs (not tweets).
I produced Kurt Vonnegut on one try, and Douglas Adams on another. Take it, and share your results in the comments!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Freelance lemmings go Komando

I've never been a Kim Komando fan--too much Microsoft cheerleading, and computer talk makes for crappy radio regardless--but there's no question that she's succeeded in carving out a lucrative geek niche.

However, I darn near puked on my dashboard this morning as I pulled into the parking lot for a meeting, and a new radio ad piped through my speakers: Komando is now shilling for Associated Content and Helium, content mills extraordinaire, as a way for aspiring writers to Get Published!!! and Get Paid!!!

Mind you, I am a red-blooded capitalist. Frankly, I don't give a damn about the existence of the content mills, because they're so far from providing quality that I don't consider myself to be in the same business. And I don't begrudge Komando's ability to leverage her "personality" into a payday.

I just hope all of her fanboy/fangirl lemmings realize what they're getting into before they jump the cliff & quit their day jobs to augment the country's already scary unemployment numbers become professional writers. The ad should really come with a Surgeon General's warning rather than "America's Digital Goddess's" seal of approval.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Writing in your head

On my old web site, I used to have a collection of a dozen or so sayings about the craft of writing. One of them ran to the effect of "If you sit down to write, but don't put anything on the paper, your intention was not to write." I've googled and can't find it, and I'm on my laptop without access to archives, so I can't dig up the original. So it goes.

But the point of it is this: You should never confuse thinking, pondering or musing with writing. And there is value, for me, in thinking without writing. If the definition of an extrovert is a person for whom no thought goes unverbalized, I don't necessarily feel the compulsion as a writer for my every word to exit my fingers into a keyboard or pen.

Sometimes, thinking, and being alone in my thoughts, is exactly what I intended to do.