How I Lost and Found My Motivation to Freelance

It’s no secret that freelancing often resembles a roller coaster.

One day you’re up, and everything seems to be falling into place. And the next day you’re fending off emails left and right and can’t believe that your perfect client turned into a nightmare one instead.

Will you ever catch a break?

The answer is yes – if you stick to it, freelancing does get better. Or at least, the good parts get better while the bad parts get fewer and far between (but they’ll probably never go away completely, so get used to it).

Maureen is here today to share with us how a setback made her lose her motivation to freelance as a writer, and how after she processed what happened, she was able to get back to freelancing successfully. Thanks for sharing, Maureen!

I was considering a freelance writing career for well over a year before I crafted my first pitch.

My preparation resembled the tortoise more than the hare. I wasn’t sure where to start. I have a day job, teenage twins and I’m also a fiction author. Despite how much I wanted to expand my skills into freelance writing, I was afraid.

Could I devote enough time and energy to succeed?

What if I failed? Freelance writing shared similarities to fiction writing, but there were new skills I’d need to acquire.

Despite my trepidation, I couldn’t let myself give up. I wanted it too much.

Until I was ready to take the first steps into freelancing, I hoarded information. I signed up for every freelance newsletter, gathered copious downloads, ebooks and listened to podcasts (while reading blog posts). I scoured the web for articles, tips and guides about freelancing and tucked them into an email folder (secretly hoping this information would somehow organize into a clear path to follow for freelance success).

The amount of information about freelance writing was extensive and overwhelming.”

Then I came across Gina Horkey’s 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success course. Finally—just what I’d been searching for! A guide with a step-by-step plan to begin this new path. I scoured all of the resources Gina compiled in one convenient page on her site.

In addition to tucking each lesson away into an email folder, I printed them for easy organization and reference. The lessons were valuable enough to me to merit a hard copy binder to covet. Like a bulging, tabbed, highlighted shield, the binder gave me the courage to begin.

How I lost and found my motivation to freelanceI was ready.

Well, as ready as I was going to be until I gained freelancing experience. Relying on the “fake it until you make it” motto and my soaring motivation from the course, I began pitching.

To my amazement, I received a response from my second pitch.

“This is just what we wanted.”

It was a perfect match for my skills as a writer as it coincided with my long-term job, easily establishing me as an expert on the topic.

I thought it was too good to be true. And it was.

With glee, I quickly finished defining myself on my social media sites as a Freelance Writer. Until a client validated my worth, I hadn’t felt comfortable touting the term. It hung on me like an ill fitting cloak due to my lack of confidence.

I didn’t share my secret dream with others because the fear of failure loomed. Now I could.”

But since I’d be ghostwriting, I couldn’t really share much of anything except my new title of Freelance Writer.

Many emails were exchanged over the next month. These included a lengthy contract, proposed topic ideas, detailed outlines and finally my first post. It had been proposed I’d write up to three posts per week. The second topic had already been determined, so I began working on the next post in earnest.

I was so excited. My freelancing dreams were coming true.

A week later, I received an email. My writing voice didn’t match the client’s needs. They wouldn’t be moving forward with me for their blog.”

My confidence deflated. I pushed my freelancing binder, and dreams, aside. My mojo deflated too. It has taken me almost two months to recognize this as a learning experience and not as a failure.

What I did wrong.

1. I put all of my eggs in one basket. I counted on this client and stopped submitting additional pitches. I based my decision to stop pitching upon the time I anticipated writing three posts per week for this client.

2. I didn’t take my own advice. It took writing a blog about confidence for my teenage daughters to realize that’s what I lacked. My temporary hibernation from pursuing freelance writing wasn’t due to my lack of skill or resources, but my lack of confidence.

3. I didn’t reach out to other freelancers. Until I spoke up in Gina’s awesome Facebook group for 30 Days or Less to Freelance Success, I hadn’t moved past the sting of the rejection. Commiserating among ‘my people’ and hearing others offer stories of their own accompanied by encouraging words stirred my motivation.

4. I didn’t treat my writing like a business. Despite how much I love to craft sentences and enjoy writing, I had to accept that this type of writing is a job. If I wanted to get paid for writing, I had to treat it as such.

5. I spent too much time musing about the time I’d wasted pursuing this client. The time wasn’t wasted. I can reuse much or all of the information. Most of my time was spent structuring the post to their specifications since the topic was familiar. But for goodness sake, I write fiction! Some of my novels take a year in the making (or more; let’s not discuss the projects I’m procrastinating on). In the long run, I hadn’t wasted that much time.

Why did it take me so long to return to freelance writing?

I’m a fiction author. My skin should be pretty much snake-like with the amount of rejection and critique I’ve endured over the years.

  • This was personal. No it wasn’t. But I took it that way. This topic was about the profession I’ve worked in for over thirteen years. I failed to separate a client’s preference for voice and style over validity.
  • I’m naive. At least I felt that way. Did I do something wrong? Was I scammed? Should I have approached this differently? I didn’t know–still don’t. But I didn’t feel comfortable asking anyone, either.

Now what?

My goals hadn’t changed. The only thing lacking was my motivation. All I could do was move on. After flipping through my cherished binder of handouts, I took a minute to focus on Gina’s bonus handout of 5 Strategies to Become a More Confident Freelancer.

Here’s the bonus handout that helped Maureen overcome her freelancing setback. One particular quote resonated with me. “If you’re not getting rejected, then you’re probably not growing.”

I’m ready to grow.”

Have you ever lost your writing mojo? What happened that made you stop writing and/or submitting? How did you regain your motivation?

maureenbonatchMaureen writes stories boasting laughter, light suspense and magic in the hope of sharing her love of uncovering the extraordinary in the ordinary world. She’s published in paranormal romance and fantasy. Find out more about her novels on her website. She is also a Freelance Writing Consultant with a background in healthcare, human resources and psychiatric nursing. Her writing ranges from academic to hobbyist and topics include writing, parenting, careers, healthy aging & laughter. To see samples of her writing, visit her on Pinterest.

24 thoughts on “How I Lost and Found My Motivation to Freelance”

  1. What an awesome post. Very motivating, not only for freelance rejection/motivation, but really anything having to do with putting yourself out there on that proverbial limb, dangling in mid air, while you await someone to give their opinion on something you’ve crafted from your heart. Best of luck to you Maureen!

  2. Wow, I admire you for hanging in there and figuring it out. It sounds like you definitely took the right steps. Thank you for sharing the things you did wrong, and right! Best wishes!

    • I agree, Marissa. I guess you never outgrow the sting of a rejection. I do think it makes us stronger— but surely there are easier ways to grow, lol. Thank you for visiting!

      • Wow! You have a wonderful work ethic and such a positive attitude. My daughter makes quite as decent living free-lancing after having worked for multiple newspapers and magazines. She loves being her own boss. Good luck to you in all your endeavors!

  3. Wow, Maureen — good for you. I was thinking what Judy said, how it’s hard enough writing fiction with a family and busy job but you’ve added yet another layer. Wishing you much success with all your writing “gigs”!

  4. I admire your courage and tenacity. I lost my mojo when I was dealing with family issues. Once they were resolved, I wrote for fun–not for publication. To my surprise, fun was when my Muse returned. You can’t force the writing. Best wishes, Maureen.

  5. It is sometimes difficult to keep faith in yourself when faced with rejection, but it helps to know that some of our greatest writers were rejected over and over and over again. And also to keep in mind that opinions on your writing are subjective. What one person loves, another loathes. I’m glad you were able to find yourself again and sympathize and understand how difficult it can be when someone doesn’t enjoy your hard work. Here’s to all kinds of successes in your future that make that first client sorry they didn’t hire you! 🙂

  6. Hi Maureen,
    Thank you so much for sharing and being so honest about your journey! I am a twin mommy too! It has been such a wild, wonderful ride and it is so encouraging another twin mommy follow her dreams! I am just starting my freelance writing journey and also hope to write a children’s book one day!

    Thank you!!

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