Friday, March 16, 2007

Finding the Right Balance

Random thought of the day: my husband has the flu. The knock-you-on-your-ass type of flu. I feel sorry for him, I do, and I've been playing nurse maid in an effort to get him back to health. But let me ask you...why is it that men are such whiners when they're sick??? I mean, again, I realize that he's sick, but is all of the melodrama necessary?? Must he act like he is at death's literal door? If I had the flu, life would go on: I'd still have to make my son dinner and I'd still have to make sure that the dog got out for his two poops a day and I'd still have to nurse my daughter, etc, etc, etc. And frankly, I'd probably do it without much complaining. So, dear readers, let me ask you...why are men incapable of this? (She said, all the while truly taking a tad bit of pity on her husband whose complexion right now is the color of my walls.)

Question of the day: When you were writing magazine articles (at your busiest), how many articles did you have "in the works" at one time? I'm in a position now where I have 4 articles that I'm working on and possibly a 5th (still for the trade magazine, but they keep upping my pay, so I can't complain). I'm allowing about a week per article, which includes research, interviews, writing. Is this about right or am I allowing too much time per article?

I think this is an "it all depends" answer. When I was at my busiest, I was also often really stressed and too harried for my own good...there were times when I'd have three deadlines a week, feature deadlines, I should note, and I felt like you could tug a string, and I'd come completely undone.

So, what I think you need to do is figure out what pace works best for both you and your bottom line. For example, writing four FOBs a month probably isn't going to tax you but it also might not pay the bills. Writing four features might. These days (when I'm not working on fiction), I like to have about one feature deadline a week - that's a good pace for me because I always have something in the works, but I'm not so harried that I feel like I can't get my errands done or make it to the gym. It also assures a steady flow of decent-sized checks.

Another factor to consider: even if you're writing FOBs OR features, how much time does each article take you? Some editors might require 5 sources for an FOB, which means that your per-hour rate for this story might be next to nothing, while you could write a feature on a subject for which you're well-versed in a few hours. One thing that I did learn along the way is that I had to stop taking on subjects about which I knew nothing. The learning curve was just too high, and that cost me both time and money. So what I'd suggest is that you figure out what you think you should be earning per hour, then pitch and select assignments accordingly.

Does that help? How many stories do you guys like to be working on at one time?


Jenny said...

Gosh, our household is the opposite. In fact I just blogged about the fact that I'm a total baby when I'm sick. My husband will never admit his under the weather, even if violently ill.

Gina Black said...

My husband doesn't complain when he's sick. He doesn't talk if he can help it. He goes to bed and becomes a lump. Sometimes I think (if he were a cat) he'd rather crawl up into the hills so he could die peacefully instead of having me asking him if he needs anything (he just growls when I do that).

Fortunately he doesn't get sick very often.

Alison Ashley Formento said...

Yes, my husband will close the door and insist on complete rest, while I tend to the brood, sick or not.
Always irks me!

Your question is how many stories do we "like" to work on at once. I like having one that pays a lot, but usually it's three or four with pitch ideas brewing all along, so I keep that ideas folder handy to jot a quick note to refer to when I can focus on something new.

kate hopper said...

Oh, my husband totally complains and whines and takes to bed when he's sick. I do what I normally do (work and take care of our daughter). This is probably why it takes me longer to get better, but who has time to be sick with kids and freelancing?