I visited with friends at Munchkin Playland today. It’s a franchise operation: fancy coffee shop with play areas for babies and toddlers. Just the place for soccer moms. Decent coffee. Slightly higher prices than it’s worth, but not so much higher that I won’t pay it.
The bathrooms impressed me. Scrupulously clean, clearly thought out with a baby/toddler crowd in mind. Professional-looking labels. All the tools you’d need to change a baby or guide a youngster new to the whole potty process. The bathroom had a system, and the owners were using it.
This is how franchises work. A functional system takes the guessing out of the scut work of running a business — leaving more time and energy from growing the business itself.
As writers, we can benefit from having our own systems. Writing is a creative process, and many of us have images of long writing binges in a garret apartment, drinking absinthe and mourning a lost love. The free-wheeling, flexible lifestyle of a professional writer is part of what drew many of us to the field. I know one reason I do it is so I can be home with my children and never have to apologize for going to a 3PM soccer game.
The more systems you put in place around your writing and your career, the better your chances of making a decent living at it over the long haul. This can be as detailed as a daily schedule in 15-minute increments, or as loose as a monthly income goal. Whatever you need to keep yourself on schedule to reach not just your immediate financial needs, but also your long-term idea of where you want your career to go.
A few of my systems include:
- Weekly earnings goals, with accountability provided by my blog.
- Specific time slots where I write without fail.
- A 5-4-3-2-1 structure of marketing tasks. (More on the 5-1 in another post).
- Keeping an event schedule months in advance, so I know when to earn extra for times I won’t work.
Since I consider my job to be freelance writer/work-from-home dad, I have similar systems for keeping the house clean and taking care of the kids.
Some people object to systems because they think they’ll be restraining. If you approach them the right way, the exact opposite is true. Systems make sure you get everything done. This means that when you have time off, you can enjoy it fully. You won’t spend any of your free hours worrying about your career. It’s like going on a budget. If you know you’ve accounted for all your expenses, you can spend that extra $20 without feeling guilty.
Thanks for listening.