I’ve worked in the news industry — both as a freelance journalist and a staff writer — for the past 14 years. One of the things that’s unique in the journalism world is deadlines are sacrosanct. This is for numerous reasons. For one, news is fast moving so if you don’t publish as soon as possible, it’s likely some update will have occurred and you’ll have missed writing about it. (One only has to think about COVID-19 for this to make sense.) If your competitor has written about the topic and you haven’t, you look incompetent.
The second reason deadlines are sacred harkens back to newspaper days before everything became digital. Newspaper editors set aside space in the layout of the paper for a specific story. They assigned writers a certain number of words, or more commonly, inches. If the writer failed to deliver there would literally be empty space in the paper, unless people could scramble and find something else.
These days with digital there’s more fluidity, but even still, if a writer misses a deadline it often means their story just won’t get published. Maybe ever. One of the things I’ve found most challenging about running my own business as an Oakland freelance ghostwriter and freelance content writer is not everyone has the same view of deadlines that I do. They view deadlines as guideposts, as something to shoot for, but totally fine if they blow past.
What that means for me is I frequently have weeks that are jampacked, they’re a flurry of activity, and then that all stops. Work dwindles to a trickle and I have almost nothing going on. My business waxes and wanes like the moon. At first, I found that unsettling and missed the constant flow that characterizes the journalism industry. But then I realized it’s fine. That as spiritual teacher Tosha Silver often says, “All delays are beneficial.” And also that each period of pause is followed by a period of speed. Moreover, sometimes the pause, the break, is just what’s needed to gain momentum before leaping forward. If you think about a rocket, it builds up heat and pressure before launching into space. I think people, and business, are the same way.
We often denigrate periods of rest because in the West we lionize productivity, but what if like the moon, we wax and wane? And because business is made up of people, it does the same?
I’m not going to lie, there are days where I wish people valued deadlines as much as I did, but there are also days that I relish the decreased pressure. Days where instead of homing in on my computer screen I can take the time to gaze out the window and notice my plants waving in the wind. Or appreciate the flock of birds flying by. When you’re constantly stressed and have your nose to the grindstone, it’s harder to take time to notice the little things. At least that’s the case for me. So perhaps if a business is like the moon, it’s more sustainable in the long run.
Do you need help showcasing your unique skillset, or what makes your business special? Are you looking for someone to take the pressure off of writing? If so, contact me. I’d love to hear from you.