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The One-Handed Writer
How long could you keep your freelance writing business going if you only had one hand? I’ve been finding out. It seems that tendonitis has robbed me of my right hand for the next week or so. It’s an occupational hazard for freelance writers, especially those of us who are virtually chained to our computers.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time. The end of the year always brings a rush to get things accomplished and I, like many others, am busier than ever. I could type one-handed, but it would take hours and I might ruin the other hand. So what can you do in a situation like this?
Find A Scribe
I have to confess that I am not typing this post myself. Instead, I’m following doctor’s orders and resting the hand in the hope of a rapid recovery. However, my beloved mother — an admin whiz before she retired — volunteered to un-retire her typing fingers and take some dictation. This has been a lifesaver as it has enabled me to fulfil some of my writing commitments.
- Or A Virtual Scribe
Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have a live-in scribe. An alternative is to use voice recognition software such as IBM ViaVoice to take your dictation. All you need is a microphone and about 20 minutes to train it to recognise your voice. Be warned, though, it takes a long time to get it to 100% accuracy, so you’ll need to be an eagle-eyed proof-reader if you take this option.
One of the advantages of working with a writing team is that there are people whom I can call on to help me complete outstanding work. Even if you donâ€™t work with a team you probably know some other writers who might be willing to help out as long as you return the favour one day. Remember, the buck stops with you, so it’s your responsibility to make sure that your clients’ needs are met.
Another possibility is to tell your clients that you’re ill. Most people are very understanding about short-term difficulties, especially if you have given superlative and timely service in the past.
These options are not mutually exclusive. You can use all of them at the same time to meet your writing commitments and to ensure that some income flows in even if you canâ€™t do all the writing yourself.