How to survive the quiet times: A guide for writers, part 2

Commission from HellAlmost every freelance writer experience the occasional lull. In this series of guest posts, freelance journalist Deborah Willimott offers some favourite tips for surviving those quiet times.

Survival technique 2: Accept the commission from Hell

You type ‘yes’, click ’send’ and in seconds your soul belongs to somebody on a Weekly desk for the next four months. You have accepted The Commission From Hell.

It will require ‘case studies’. Lots of them. Photogenic ones (read: ‘real’ people who look like catwalk models). Aged between 26 and 27. It requires said CS to talk ‘candidly’ (ie with lots of grot and embarrassing detail) about their sex life (usually) whilst being photographed smiling next to their (equally breathtakingly photogenic) partner they have just ‘candidly’ revealed is “shit in bed.”

You also generally have about 24 hours to find these people and convince them they really want to do this for absolutely no incentive at all – apart from maybe ‘a day out in London’ and possibly a bottle of £3.99 Merlot (bought by you out of your earnings for this nightmare).

By deadline day you will have run up an immense phone bill, at least one of the case studies will have got angry/cried/dropped out, and the words “You didn’t say we’d have to be photographed” will have been uttered. But finally, you’ll be done and your cheque for £125 (minus Merlot and phone bill costs) will be in the mail…

…After you’ve finished eight complete re-writes.

Survival tip 1: Become a ‘Curtain Twitcher’
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