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How to Write Well When Times are Tough

This is a first, here at NJFM. Today’s post is a guest post by a fellow freelance writer, Prerna Malik.

I’ve grown to admire Prena’s positive energy and strong spirit. She strives for and portrays a sense of peace, calm and serenity even when things around her are in a state of flux. Prerna is a living example of “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  I hope you enjoy her writing and her message as much as I do.

How to Write Well When Times are Tough Storm

I’ve always believed that tough times can either make you or break you and I’ve recently had the chance to live it first-hand. Without going into details of the “tough times,” I’d love to share how and what these times have taught me about myself, being a writer and writing online.

When Times are Tough, Change.

The first thing that I learnt was that I had to change my approach to writing online, especially if I had to meet all the bills, be there for my toddler and husband and manage a home. Till now, I had been somewhat coasting along, writing for a few private clients, a couple of residual sites that were fun but not income-generators, a few sites that did bring in income but not the kind I wanted to see and just the one upfront-paying site. So, I changed.

I focused on the residual sites that brought in the money, applied to more upfront paying sites (not many for an international writer) and took on Success or Failuremore private client assignments. I also changed the way I spent time online. Reduced aimless browsing, focused more on reading quality rather than quantity and, engaged in reaching out rather than retweeting.

When Times are Tough, Choose.

Tough times force you to look at a situation and make tough calls. I had to let go of a client who was easy to work for but painful to follow up with for payments. I had to simplify my limited time online and focus only on the essentials. I had to choose the assignments I wanted to do with care and caution. Choosing can be tough in itself but it does help to organize and simplify one’s life. A happy by-product of making choices is that you can devote more time to things that you truly love and those that pay well too!

When Times are Tough, Challenge. Challenge

This was probably the toughest of all. Challenging myself to write better and faster, explore newer sites, and learn new skills, like moving my blog from Blogger to self-hosted Word Press on my own. I learnt that making article templates for my residual income sites cut down on time spent writing, interlinking, reduced research time and created valuable back links.  By creating a photo directory complete with credit and link to the photo made adding photos to articles and posts super easy.

I’m grateful for these tough times since without them I’m sure that I wouldn’t have made these choices, challenged myself to aspire for better or changed the way I worked. Cocooned in my comfort zone, I was happy with where I was and didn’t think about aiming higher. As an online writer, I had the luxury of being my own boss and so, I had to make all the decisions. (Another thing, I’m grateful for!) So, yeah, tough times can shake and rattle you, but once that’s over, it’s time to take action and usually, that’s for the better.

Prerna MalikPrerna Malik believes in meeting challenges head-on, living simple, parenting with love and creating a home that invites you to put your feet up and relax. Find her sharing her journey as mom, wife, writer and woman at The Mom Writes.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Julie-Inspired to Write October 7, 2010, 12:41 pm

    Thank you for this inspiration. I have recently reanalyzed where I wanted my writing to go since I, too have been faced with a potential cutback in hours at work. I have also looked into higher paying opportunities in addition to the residual. It can be quite a challenge to get out there and take chances, but in the end worth it. As a self-employed, freelance writing, changes will ALWAYS be a part of that life!

  • Deanna October 7, 2010, 1:02 pm

    Prerna, such an inspiring post. You’ve done so well for yourself with online writing and I admire your spirit and dedication. Streamlining time and working more efficiently is also what I am striving for. Being our own boss, it is easy to take time for granted and waste it with either too much web surfing or low-paying writing assignments. Thank you for the inpirational post – and I wish you continued success with your writing career. 🙂

  • Reena October 7, 2010, 1:28 pm

    Thanks for this inspirational post! I have been a regular reader of No Job For Mom and The Mom Writes ( have them come directly to my inbox) and I must say, you ladies rock! It’s always a pleasure reading you.

  • Sher October 7, 2010, 3:00 pm

    Wow…what a powerful and inspiring post! You’ve learned how to not only survive in tough times, but how to grow and thrive.

    Thanks for sharing this message–we can all take a page from your book in these tough times.

  • Prerna October 7, 2010, 11:06 pm

    Hi everyone! Thank you so much for the kind words and warm support. I’ve loved being a part of Felicia’s community here and this is one of the main reasons. I’m glad you liked the post and I truly value your encouragement.

  • Fujoshicat October 8, 2010, 12:53 am

    Thanks for this post, Prerna. I have also been looking at how I utilize and organize my time while online, and I could definitely streamline my activities to become more focused and productive.

    I have several Blogger blogs and I’m thinking of making the move to WordPress as you have. Definitely a move out of my comfort zone! 🙂

    Congratulations on moving forward!

  • Diana - Living in DC October 8, 2010, 10:26 am

    This is very inspirational. Sometimes it’s hard to keep focus when you don’t see results right away or when other things get in the way. I like the three Cs: Challenge, Choose, and Change.

  • Renae October 8, 2010, 11:55 pm

    New to online writing, it has been very overwhelming and a bit scary. Reading posts like Perna’s and blog’s like Felicia’s gives me the guidance and confidence needed to persevere in this venture. As a new Mom, at thirty-nine, it was a gamble to walk away from my eleven-year teaching job to stay home with my son. But, I’m grateful every day that I did it and am confident that I will succeed as an online freelance writer. Your inspiration gives me wings…

  • Thomma Lyn October 11, 2010, 1:34 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! Talk about inspiration. This spoke directly to me — when times are tough, the tough get writing.

  • Prerna October 13, 2010, 11:33 pm

    Hi Renae, Thomma, Diana and Fujoshicat, am so glad that you liked the post and deeply moved and inspired by your kind words and your own experiences. The best part of being an online writer is learning from others and connecting with them despite the physical distance.

  • Angela England October 14, 2010, 4:08 pm

    Prerna! What a fabulous post. I am stumbling it and facebooking it.

    You’re right, and it’s something I’ve told my consultation clients over and over (as you know) – it’s ok to let go of something that isn’t as much fun and isn’t as much money so you can be free for those things that either pay you better, or feed your soul more. 🙂

    I think your advice is sound no matter WHAT the times – tough or not! If it’s not worth your time, it’s not worth your time.

    Angela <

  • Alyssa October 25, 2010, 2:55 pm

    Excellent post, Prerna. I think of it as a more refined version of the marine’s motto of “improvise, adapt, and overcome”.

    When I was younger, my boss once told me that I would be able to demonstrate my true colors and creativity when I was up against few to nonexistent resources, very little help, and unreasonable limitations and restrictions. He said “work within the confines, and show me how it’s done.” It was a sink or swim situation, but I learned a lot about myself and how I would face off any challenges.

    I think writers are in a similar situation during these tough times.

    Thank you for the motivation and lighting a fire under our seats.


  • Christina Crowe ( @CashCampfire ) October 29, 2010, 11:22 am

    Hi Prerna,

    Thanks for sharing this article with us! I especially liked the last step, which was to challenge yourself to write better and faster. Every writer has their own pace, so I think that it’s important to find your writing pace that will allow you to pump out more quality articles at a faster rate.

    I have a question though. You mentioned that you kept a directory with all of your photos and image credits. How do you have that set up? Do you just have a folder on your desktop with the photos? If so, how do you include the credit links as well?

    Great read and can’t wait to hear from you!


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