>Take a little time

>The phone sits silent. Sales offers clog the e-mail inbox, and Christmas cards fill the snail mail box. Editors are on vacation; sources can’t speak to us until “after the holidays.” We survived the solstice, and now we must survive Christmas. If you have deadlines to meet, you must still meet them. If not, well, you’re self-employed. Give yourself some holiday time. But keep your notebook nearby for ideas to follow up on. Also keep your holiday short because the work you don’t do now will result in a lack of funds and clips next year.

As the year dwindles away in a flash of Christmas lights and torn wrapping paper, consider using the time for analyses, updates and new goals. What have you accomplished in 2009? What do want to accomplish next year, and what will you do to do to make that happen? With a fresh new year, what else needs refreshing? Is your web page, like mine, getting a little stale? Are you hanging onto a client who pays poorly because it’s easier than finding a new one? Is it time to stop fighting with your old slow-moving computer and buy a new one? What types of work brought you money and satisfaction and what brought you mostly frustration?

Every company should review its efforts at least once a year. That includes our freelance businesses, of which we are CEO, secretary, treasurer, talent, mail clerk, janitor and everything else. Take a look back at 2009, make plans for 2010, then kick back and enjoy the egg nog. A new year awaits.

>Christmas vacation? Nope

>This morning I got the news that a friend may be dying. I don’t want to work. Praying and waiting by the phone and thinking “what if” takes most of my attention. The rest is occupied by the snowstorm that has left our area covered with snow and ice, plus the things I still need to do for Christmas. But as freelance writers, we have to keep going, no matter what. If we have deadlines, we must meet them. If we stop sending queries and manuscripts out in December, we’ll have no publications and no checks in January.

Actually the best way to use these crazy days is to turn them into articles. Publications may be short-staffed this month and welcome more freelance work than usual. Don’t miss the opportunity.

My friend Roy had open heart surgery yesterday. The doctors said he should have had it sooner, but he didn’t even know he had a problem until last week. Sunday he was still ushering at church. What symptoms should one look for? What are the risks of open heart surgery? What do the surgeons actually do? See, lots of story ideas.

As for the snow and ice, the obvious articles are about keeping warm, driving safely and not burning down the house with faulty heaters or poorly maintained fireplaces. Can you come up with some less obvious ideas? And of course, Christmas brings all kinds of things to mind, stories related to gifts, religion, family relations, travel, and so much more.

As freelance writers, we have the freedom to take whatever comes up in life and turn it into published articles. So, enjoy the holiday season, but keep the computer humming.