An American Editor

November 5, 2019

On the Basics — Making the most of the pre-holiday moment

Filed under: Editorial Matters — An American Editor @ 10:59 am

By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

Owner, An American Editor

As I posted recently to my National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE) blog, the few weeks from mid-October through late November are a form of calm before the storm for many of us. An American Editor subscribers who aren’t NAIWE members might benefit from these tips, which include a couple that occurred to me after that original post.

The holidays are coming up fast, and a lot of clients seem to slack off on work requests at this time of year, creating a false sense of relaxation for some of us and a feeling of “how will I make it financially through the end of the year?” panic for others. False because there’s often a sudden influx of work right before or even at those holidays — but we can’t assume that will happen. (And when it does, it creates its own sense of panic, but that’s a topic for my next post!)

The storm, of course, is the holiday season itself, with all the fun, stress and frantic activity it demands; there’s also the end of the year, with its requirements for wrapping up record-keeping and preparing for tax season early (ideally) in the new year. We have to balance family plans and expectations against client demands and deadlines, and all of that against the needs of our businesses, and that isn’t always easy.

Here are a few tips for making the most of downtime if you don’t have a lot of work in hand at the moment.

  • Get a head start on organizing tax records. If you’re flush, look for business-related expenses you can invest in before the end of this year to reduce your tax burden.
  • Review your recent income and expenses to see where you need to make improvements, and start working on a plan to generate more income in the new year: Plan on a rate increase, identify clients who aren’t worth keeping, look for new markets to explore, etc.
  • File stuff!
  • Update your résumé, website and promotional material.
  • Consider starting a blog, Instagram account, Twitter feed, etc.
  • Write a few blog posts or articles to build up a bank of material to publish over the next few weeks or months, so you have it ready to go when you’re mired in the holiday or end-of-year demands. (This is something I have to do myself!)
  • Learn a new skill or program that will benefit your writing or editing business, if you’re a freelancer, or your job security, if you work in-house.
  • Look for colleagues to follow online, especially those with blogs you can comment on, to both learn something new and build your online presence.
  • Plan your professional development activities for the new year — organizations to join or rejoin, conferences to attend, etc. — and start putting funds aside for such expenses (think of them as investments in your writing or editing career or business).
  • Review past published material to see what you can update and resell or repurpose.
  • Start writing that book!
  • On the home front, do some holiday gift-buying or — if you’re crafty — -making, and prepare some of those holiday treats and dishes ahead of time if they can be frozen.
  • Consider taking a refreshing few days totally “off” — a spa day, a weekend trip to somewhere fun, a family trip when the prices aren’t inflated by the holiday season.

If this time of year is when some of your clients do the panicking about packing a lot of last-minute work into November or December, consider yourself at least somewhat lucky — many colleagues would like to be in your position. Do as much holiday planning and purchasing as you go along as possible, and enjoy being well-employed!

How do you make the most of downtime, assuming you have any, whether now or at other times of the year?

Long-time freelance writer/editor Ruth E. Thaler-Carter is the Networking member of the NAIWE Board of Experts and owner of Communication Central, which partnered with NAIWE this year to present the 14th annual Be a Better Freelancer® conference. Her website is and she can be reached at

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