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    Proud to be Prolific

    To a freelance writer, prolific is a magic word. It spells the difference between earning and earning a lot. It increases your worth as far as your editors are concerned. It gives you an edge over other writers. Being prolific is a trait that every freelance writer should develop. Here are tips to do that:


    Here, there and everywhere

    Have some pens/pencils and scratch papers anywhere and everywhere in the house, in all your bags, purses and even in the car. Great ideas just pop into your mind when youíre in the most unlikely situations: when youíre sitting on the toilet throne, when youíre waiting for the toast to pop, when youíre munching in front of the TV, when youíre stuck in traffic or waiting your turn at the cashier. What a waste if you forget those ideas just because you couldnít jot them down!


    Those "tip-of-the-tongue" words and phrases

    Donít waste precious time trying to think of the appropriate word or phrase thatís "just at the tip of my tongue" but which you cannot remember at that very moment. Do the same with doubtful words or figures. Leave a blank, skip it and move on. Just come back to it later when youíre editing your work because then, that magic word will just pop from nowhere!


    Follow your body clock

    If youíre a morning person, write in the morning. If youíre a night person, write at night. You are prone to lapses if you go against your body clock. You wonít be so productive.


    Have a sparring partner

    Having a prolific writing buddy can inspire you to be as, if not more, prolific as possible. Constantly "comparing notes" will challenge you to write regularly.


    Abuse your topics!

    Use your topics and concepts to the max. Write as many articles about a topic by attacking it from different perspectives. Use varying tones and styles.


    Diversify

    Develop a plot in different genres for different mediums. Transform a short story into a TV or radio script, a novel into several short stories, an anecdote into a personal encounter piece and so on until youíve squeezed it dry!


    Set a quota

    Give yourself a daily, weekly or monthly quota. Fine yourself if you break your quota.


    Create a writing ambiance

    Have a comfortable writing area. Be sure that the light and ventilation are conducive to writing. Complete the effects: a picture window in front of you can be relaxing. Set up a tabletop fountain or dish garden, a small aquarium, scented candles, posters, paintings (and some music of your choice) to complete the writing ambiance that inspires you.


    Blocked? Exercise!

    If writerís block is your problem, find a way to unblock it! Writing exercises can do the trick. Read articles on how to deal with this writerís nightmare. Youíll find so many!


    Just disappear!

    Disappear from the company of people who prevent you from writing: visitors who stay for sometime, noisy roommates, a demanding boy/girlfriend... Hie off to a place where you will be more productive.


    Snub the phone

    Answering those endless (and often, nonsense) phone calls can disrupt your thoughts and slow you down. Invest in an answering machine so you can screen your calls.


    On-line temptation

    Checking your e-mailbox is tempting. Once youíre on-line, youíll be tempted to surf the web or chat. If you want to be prolific, donít open your e-mailbox until youíve met your daily quota! Check your e-mailbox just once a day instead of every hour! Group-send mails instead of writing individually, which is time consuming.


    Be an expert multi-tasker

    Practice and master the art of multi-tasking -- you know, doing two or more things at a time. For example, train yourself to write as you wait for the washing machine. Or write as you perform your morning ritual at the toilet! (Didnít I say have a pen and paper in every corner of the house?) How about writing a poem or thinking of short story concepts as you wait for the pressure cooker timer?


    Think like a faucet!

    Train yourself to write in any situation. It shouldnít matter if youíre sad or happy, bored or angry. Just like a faucet, you should be able to write anything the moment you open your writing tap! You donít have to wait for the muse to strike you. Show her youíre the boss!


    Plant writing seeds

    The moment a nice title, sentence or phrase pops into your mind, jot it down. You will find some use for it later. That saves you time thinking of a concept to work on. Donít delete unfinished articles. Come back to them later. When you have free time, think of concepts and/or titles that you can use to jumpstart your next pieces.


    Get inspired

    If youíve been feeling sluggish for some time, read some great works that can inspire you to get back to writing mode.


    Prepare the ingredients

    Before you start writing an article, have all the necessary files/references ready: graphics, photos, charts, statistics, names of people (with correct spelling and proper titles)... you will include in the article. Your thoughts will be disrupted if you have to make phone calls just to verify some names/facts. Youíll waste time if you have to open different files in your computer just to look for important data.


    Stay fit and healthy

    Eat healthy, exercise regularly and practice a healthy lifestyle. Even if you have a whole luggage of ideas, you canít write as much if youíre sick all the time.


    Keep the ball rolling

    Donít collect your writerís fee from a publication unless you have something to submit. That will make you write another piece right away. You want your money, right?


    Use your planner

    Prepare a daily or weekly schedule of the articles you intend to write. That way you can schedule difficult articles first (when your energy level is still high). You will also know if you have everything you need to complete your article/s.


    Make an inventory

    Have the necessary tools, supplies and equipment you need within reach. Having a stock of staple wire, ink, bond paper, diskettes, Internet card, etc. can save you precious time.


    Order please!

    Itís hard to write if youíre surrounded by clutter. If you canít find the stapler, the page you photocopied as reference, the diskette you need, or the list of topics assigned by your editor, youíll just waste time rummaging through your mess. Organize your workplace. Ambiance + order = increased output.


    Write now, edit later

    Follow the C-A-R-E writing sequence: conceptualizing, actual writing, revising and editing. Before you start writing, plan what you want to write. Know what you need. Once you have a clear concept, start writing. Just write! Never mind spelling, grammar, etc. Revise and edit only after youíve finished your piece. Editing as you write will only disrupt the flow of your thoughts and slow you down.


    Sure, youíve heard the saying, "Slowly but surely." But for a freelance writer, slow is no way to go! If you want to conquer the market, your motto should be, "Proud to be prolific!"

    Copyright © 2003 Lizzie R. Santos

    Lizzie Santos writes features, literary pieces, scripts and other writing projects both in English and Pilipino. She also lectures at creative writing workshops. Her first book, The Laughter of the Leaves and Other Musings, was published by Giraffe Books. She is working on her second book. Contact her at liz_pages@yahoo.com.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



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