It’s October, the beginning of the fourth quarter of the year. Three months left. What have you accomplished this year? Are you ahead, behind or exactly where you want to be in your writing?
This year has gone quickly, hasn’t it? Soon it will be Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then 2013 is over. The weather is changing, the hours of daylight are decreasing, and there’s a real temptation to slack off, to coast to the end of the year. But I have a better idea. Let’s use those last three months, 90 days, to finish the year with a flourish. If we were football players running behind or only one touchdown ahead of the other team, would we relax in the fourth quarter? No way. We’d go all out to score some serious points. The game isn’t over until the last second ticks away.
Maybe this fourth-quarter push is why so many writing challenges occur in November. The most famous is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, in which people engage in marathon writing sessions in an attempt to write a whole novel in a month. There are also several Poem-a-Day contests, the most famous of which is run by Writer’s Digest’s Robert Lee Brewer. Engaging in one of these contests is one way to cram a lot of writing into a short time. I’ll probably do the poetry challenge again because I do get more poems written than I would otherwise.
But maybe you already have something else you need to be doing with your writing. Have you been working on a project that you’d like to get done by the end of the year? Is there something you’ve been meaning to start and haven’t yet? Did you really hope that you would sell more articles and earn more money this year? Sit down and have a staff meeting with yourself. You still have three months, one quarter of a year. What can you do in that time and what is your plan to get it done?
What’s our fourth-quarter strategy to win the writing game for this year, to approach New Year’s Eve knowing we’ve done our best?
If you’d like to tell us your plans in the comments, we’d love to hear them. Sharing your intentions may help you to follow through.
I still have a few copies of Freelancing for Newspapers available for just $10, including postage. Part of my fourth-quarter game plan is getting rid of excess book inventory. If you’d like a copy, email me at email@example.com.
>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.