How to survive the quiet times: A guide for writers, part 9

Girl and paddling poolAlmost every freelance writer experiences the occasional lull. In this series of guest posts, freelance journalist Deborah Willimott shares some of her favourite tips for surviving those quiet times, and even find some inspiration in them.

Survival tip 6: Allow yourself to have a lovely time 

When you don’t have any work, the theory goes that if you do not spend every waking hour seeking work you are the worst kind of lay-about waster. The truth of the matter is, as a workless flancer, given the opportunity of a nice day out (as opposed to weeping gently over your bank statements) you are torn between gleefully skipping out of the house (away from those nasty bank statements) and the broodingly intense guilt born of illicitly enjoying yourself when you should be coming up with better ways of generating cash than rooting around in the washing machine door seal.

On some level, perhaps the more superstitious flancer feels that this devil-may-care frivolity will anger the Employment Gods further, resulting in another month of cleaning the bathroom walls with a toothbrush just for SOMETHING to do (before realising that was your only toothbrush and you can’t afford a new one).

Others feel that in having ‘fun’ they will lose the motivational terror that results in every feature editor’s in-box haemorrhaging under the influx of 347 of their desperate ideas at least twice a week.

Perhaps being in a situation that results in the thought: “I really shouldn’t be outside enjoying the sunshine mid-morning on a Tuesday…” is just plain depressing.

Put those negative thoughts firmly to one side and justify yourself with the fact that anything you do that’s even remotely entertaining may in fact be considered research for a future feature or work of fiction. So in fact, having fun is part of your job!

Survival tip 1: Become a ‘Curtain Twitcher’
Survival tip 2: :Accept the commission from hell
Survival tip 3: Google your illnesses
Survival tip 4: Seek food
Survival tip 5: Experiment with a new computer font
Survival tip 6:  Consider organising your accounts
Survival tip 7: Cook something complicated
Survival tip 8: Dress inappropriately