Starting Slow

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger. Mostly, I’ve been catching up on those little things that get away from you when you work a full-time-plus job. (My career would have eaten my life if I’d let it.)

I needed to talk to a financial advisor to make sure my retirement money lasts as long as I do. I haven’t quite reached the government retirement age for Social Security, so I need to find a way to fill that gap. First Reader retired back in May, so we have some guaranteed income. Because I saw this action coming three years ago, we prepared ourselves as best we could. We paid off the high-interest debt first and worked our way to the lower interest debt. 

I’ve had a loose business plan in my head for the last five years or so, and I’m working on executing that plan. One of the first things I need to do is change my office environment. If you’ve been following my freelance progress, you know that I’ve been cleaning out the clutter from my office.

(C) 2019 JJ Shaun
Office cleaning progress. It’s still going slow.

I’m moving slow on this project, partly because my dogs freak out when I get moving around the house, and partly because of other life obligations. You know, things like getting emissions on my pickup so I can renew the plates. Making doctor’s appointments before my health insurance goes away. And spending time with my family. My goal is to have my office remodeled by the end of the year. My desk will have an entirely new look next time #FreelanceFriday rolls around.

(C) 2019 JJ Shaun
I can see the desktop!

While I’m cleaning out my office, I also need to make room in the shed for the stuff from my office that will move out. My comic collection is bagged, boarded, and boxed, and I have most of them stored on shelves in the outbuilding next to the house. I don’t have room inside, but at least they’re close. The care and organization of this collection is another of those things patiently waiting for attention.

One of my biggest tasks is to learn how to be an entrepreneur. I tried to freelance once, about fifteen years ago and failed miserably. I guess I wasn’t ready then. One of the habits I must develop is saving receipts. For the most part, I tend to have the receipt emailed or don’t get one at all. That will have to change.

A business license is another step to take. In my state, I can go online and, for a nominal fee, register the name under which I plan to run my business. I am also considering entrepreneurship classes at the local community college or university. No doubt I’ll learn things I hadn’t considered before.

Some people are born to work for themselves. I know folks who have never worked in a traditional job a day in their lives but always have enough income to live comfortably. Not me. I’ve worked for someone else almost all of my working life. I need to learn how to work for myself. So far, my need to write has kept me busy.

I’ve had writing ideas tumbling through my mind for years. This past week, I was handed new inspiration from a friend (shh, it’s still a secret). The question is whether I can pull it off. But that’s what writers do, isn’t it? They put themselves into the minds and lives of other characters. I’ll need to research the bejeezus out of that plotline. And I can tell that the idea is beginning a slow simmer in my subconscious.

I’ve begun looking at my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project from two years ago again. I decided to scrap my original beginning and start the story in a different spot. I can use the initial hook as a short story later if needed. I am reading it and making sure the parts are all in the proper places. When that’s finished, I’ll add stuff that’s been in my head the last couple of years. I also have character sketches to finish and subplots to inject.

I’ve also thought about using my skills at nearby universities. I meet with one of my old professors soon to see if my idea has legs, or if the school offers anything like it. It’s a way to use my technical skills and help others at the same time.

All of this is part and parcel of being a freelance writer. You must be able to market yourself and your skills. I’ve always been pretty good at understanding how things work, and I already understand the basic principles of what needs doing. Putting all that knowledge into practice has been my Achilles heel.

But times they are a’changin’, so that means that I need to change with them. I’ll share the things I learn along the way as I transition from employee to entrepreneur.

Please, ask questions and post suggestions. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment. I’ll guarantee that if you have a question, so does someone else, and we can all benefit from suggestions. Let’s help each other as we climb the path to success.

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