Saturday, January 31, 2009

Suffer From Irregularity? - How freelancing can impede blogging

Nearly every article I've come across about blogging states that updating regularly and often is one of the keys to building an audience and developing your niche.

Sigh. I have come to the conclusion that I am not likely to become an everyday blogger.

Nor even , it seems, a weekly one, despite hopeful aspirations to the contrary. I realize I am not the only one to confront these questions. I have also realized a part of this may be due to the lifestyle of a freelance writer, as opposed to one with a regular gig.

If you are story editing, show running or even part of the writing team on a television series, you spend your days (and a significant portion of your nights) immersed in the characters and plotlines. You are constantly solving plot issues and finding new ways to reveal character and stay true to their essence, while coming with new developments and exciting twists to challenge them; testing the boundaries.

The first time I was offered a story-editing gig my agent told to weigh the good news with the bad news. The good news was I would have to write only that show for almost a year. The bad news that I would have to write only that show for almost a year.

The benefit of such an intensive period of writing for one group of characters greatly outweighed the negatives.

On the plus side, you get to know the characters inside out and the rhythm of your show becomes so ingrained that you easily avoid anything that isn't true to the characters before your fingers ever hit the keyboard. Untrue moments become easier to spot and surmount. You're like a shark swimming even as it sleeps, constantly working out problems and brainstorming.

You also find your speed increasing because you know the show so well, you can blaze through an initial draft in days, allowing the times to actually edit and polish it before handing it in.

On the down side, you need a mountain of ideas to feed the wildfire or it's over. The flames will die out. Even if it's not fully worked out a new idea can inspire you. You may have to work your butt off to figure how and why your flying character can suddenly talk to birds. But in the process you get deeper into your characters and find new depths inside.

If you survive the lack of sleep.

The good news is that when you're so immersed in one thing for such an extended, intensive period of time, when you do break away for a bit your mind is thrilled to work on anything else. Sharpened by such intensive use, other ideas come flowing out, often already worked over by your subconcious brain looking for an outlet.

I find the opposite to be true when I'm a pen-for-hire working on several shows at once to cobble together grocery and mortgage money. At the same time I am juggling outlines and scripts for completely series, I usually also studying and pitching for other shows in an effort to line up next month's work.

The constant shifting of gears is so taxing the last thing I want to face at the end of the day is a blog post. I haven't had time to peruse the news or explore my world. I've already explored two or three separate television worlds in one. That's enough mental travel for anyone.

And at the start of each day when my mind is fresh I'm usually having to catch up on the writing I didn't get to finish the day before. And all this time the deadlines circle above, their dark wings spreading shadows on the ground around my desk. So I skip the blog post, even if it's one I've been dying to get too.

Sometimes there are so many post ideas in my brain (along with the other writing, filmmaking or cartooning thoughts and ideas floating around up there) I can't write them fast enough. But after a day of switch-hitting every hour, there are none to be had. The well is dried up and I need to relax and find a way to refill before facing my blank screen tomorrow.

Check the dates on these posts and the time between each one. I think you'll know which period I'm in right now.

So I surrender to fact that I shall not become a day by day nor a weekly blogger any time soon. I accept it and hope that you do too. I want each post appearing here to have my full attention and creative energy behind it.

You deserve it. And so do I.

Live the adventure.