Guest Post at Writer Beware

Hi everyone! I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve got a guest post up at Writer Beware: 7 Freelance Writing Scams and How to Fight Them.

Head on over and check it out!



Numbers Are Fun When They’re About You: 2012 Freelancer Industry Survey

A few months ago I participated in an online survey of freelancers and their business, and they just released their results! They surveyed nearly 1,500 freelancers across 50 industries and multiple countries.

Here’s a cool little infographic summing up the data:

 2012 Freelancer Survey Infographic

Here are a few other stats that I found cool.

  • 18% of the freelancers surveyed are writers. We’re the second most common type of freelancer out there! And if you combine us with copywriters (10%), we’d be first!
  • 20% of freelancers say finding clients is their biggest challenge. On the other hand, most freelancers spend only 5 hours a month or less looking. What does that tell you? We complain a lot, that’s what!
  • Referrals are the number one method of finding clients, followed by word of mouth. Yes, students: networking is important.
  • Videographers/video editors have the most trouble getting paid on time. Really! And I thought I had it bad!
  • Photographers have the toughest time managing time and staying productive. Can any photographers out there chime in and verify this?

All in all, very interesting stuff. I would’ve liked to see more non-North American freelancers represented (that really would’ve screwed with the average income numbers, come to think of it), but the report is still pretty good overall.

So what’s my take-away from all this? Well, I probably need to review my rates. And call up a few old clients.

You can download the full report here:

5 Ways to Keep Your Writing Momentum

If you’re like me (and if you are, I pity you), then your writing flow is full of stops and starts. Just when you get into the writing groove, the world (or worse, yourself) conspires to interrupt you and break this –

– hold on, bathroom break –

Where were we? Oh yeah.

– break this sublime streak of productivity. That’s not good for your word count. Nor is it good for whatever you’re writing, because you’re going to lose your train of thought and risk going off on tangents that are totally irrelevant because that’s what tangents do and…

(deep breath)

Sorry. Anyway.

There is help for us, my friends. There are ways to keep you in your seat and pounding happily (or unhappily, for some of you) away at the keyboard. And not all of them require cattle prods and electrified fencing. In fact, most are quite pleasant.

Image by Caitlinator from Flickr

1. Write to a goal

This is the tip that seems to work best for me. Your goal can either be word count, a number of chapters, or a set time period. The point is to have something to shoot for: small manageable goals that you can repeat on a regular basis.

2. Psych yourself out

It’s not just for athletes. Getting in some serious mental mojo can really get you pumped up to write. Meditation might work, if you’re into that. But egging yourself on works too (just don’t believe your own hype.)

3. Get a cheerleader

If cheering yourself on seems to weird for you, then you might consider having someone else be your cheerleader. This person will hold you accountable for the goals you set, and if they do their job right it can really push you to be productive – especially if there’s a reward, like a round of drinks or something. Your cheerleader can be your spouse, your friend, or even a fellow/rival writer (for some people, it’s competition that brings out the best in them.)

4. Remove unsafe distractions

Notice I said unsafe distractions. There’s no way to completely remove yourself from distractions if you really can’t concentrate. The key here is to know which distractions are the most debilitating to you – like the Internet, in my case, or noise for others. Then you can use safe distractions like music to shut out the outside world.

5. Move somewhere else

Most writers work at home, and the problem with working at home is that sooner or later a family member is going to ask you to do something. I go through this with Flossie sometimes, and I do admit that it’s hard to say no. The solution? Remove yourself entirely and work somewhere else. The library. The coffee shop. Anywhere you can work comfortably and not be disturbed.

My Daughter is a StairMaster

Photo by Posh Living, LLC on Flickr


It’s practically a parenting requirement that you rock your toddler back to sleep when she has a nightmare in the middle of the night. Each toddler has their little “quirks”–tiny little preferences that soothe them and help ease them back into peaceful slumber. Some need a bottle. Others need a song. Mine?

Mine likes stairs.

As in really likes stairs. Get her within visual distance of a flight of stairs, and it’s like a candy store just jumped up in front of her. She’ll gladly (and tirelessly) run up and down it (with parent in tow, of course) for half an hour if need be, and woe to the unlucky adult who has to separate her from it.

“But wait,” you ask. “Do you mean to say you make her climb the stairs at 3 am in the morning to tire her out?”

No! No no no no no no NO no no NOOO! Of COURSE she doesn’t climb the stairs in the middle of the night.

That would be ME.

I don’t know what it is about the jerky motion of ascending and descending those steps, but it calms her down. And she doesn’t let me off easy, either. If I dare stop and rest, or step back into the hallway to a flat surface, she tells me (in the way of vocal toddlers), “I’m sorry daddy, but I would still like a little more time on the stairs. You can rest later, when I’m 5 years old. Please daddy? With sugar and maple syrup on top?”


To which I reply, “Yes, dear. I would absolutely love to take you another round. It’s only been 10 minutes, and daddy doesn’t really need to be entirely sane when he goes to work tomorrow. Golly gee, I don’t mind my legs turning to jelly at all.”

Translation: Sigh.

My daughter needs an infomercial.


Social Promotion and the Death of Education

High School Daze

Good luck guessing which one is me.

For those unfamiliar with the term, social promotion is an educational practice where a student is advanced on to the next grade level whether or not their performance deserves it, in order to keep them with their peers. The theory behind this is that holding them back to repeat the year might cause undue mental anguish and scar their emotions and self-esteem for life.

My response: SO THE EFF WHAT.

I’m old enough to appreciate the value of a child’s (especially MY child’s) education, and young enough to clearly remember what school was like in my day (answer: difficult but fun). And let me tell you: social promotion is a crock of BS.

If your kid is doing badly in school, and you let your teachers advance her a year just so she can be with her friends or to spare her some grief, then you fail as a parent. Consider the following points:

1)      You’re doing your child a disservice. You’re teaching her that it’s okay to be lazy, that it’s all right to have low standards, and that you can advance through life by failing.

2)      The kid is going to hate being left back. Let’s get that clear. It will cause her emotional distress. It will seem like her world is coming to an end, all because she won’t be able to advance a year level. But (and here’s the key point) she’ll get over it.

3)      Putting her in another year level is not going to crimp her social life. She’s going to see her friends outside school anyway. If anything, she might make even more friends. Hopefully the right ones, this time.

Social promotion seems to be pretty widespread in North American schools, but from what I hear it seems to be creeping into Philippine schools as well (including my alma mater, much to my disappointment).

So here’s my request to you. If you’re a parent, make it clear to your school board that you won’t support that kind of policy in schools. Tell your kid’s teacher. Tell their principal. If the child is struggling in school, don’t ask for an easier test. Help your child study for it. And above all, don’t take flak from your kids. If they plead, cry, beg, wail, complain, bitch, comment, or express dissatisfaction at the fact that school is hard, take them aside, wrap them in a comforting hug, put on a sweet, parental smile, and tell them:

“Deal with it.”