Have you seen the movie ‘Despicable Me’? I absolutely adore those minions. I am juvenile that way. 

Yesterday, I took a break from a three-hour-long stretch of continuous writing to watch a very funny video featuring the minions.  One video led to another, to another, to another….one hour of funny videos and Youtube refused to let up. I love and hate Youtube’s recommendations feature in equal measures – it is very accurate, but you end up wasting a lot of time. 

I decided that the next video I watch would be the last one for the day – back to my writing afterwards.  The next video was an academy award winning, five-minute long, animated film made by Pixar way back in 1997. Some of the freelance writers reading this blog post might have seen it. It is titled Geri’s Game. Here’s the video, for those who haven’t seen it yet (subscribers viewing this post in their emails will have to click through to the article to view the video): 

It’s a beautiful video. Geri either has schizophrenia or is very creative. Irrespective of the cause for his behaviour in the movie, I realized that these five minutes were packed with takeaways for freelance writers. Given below are five that I think are most important. Don’t hesitate to add what you learned from this video in the comments below.

#1 You play your best game when there are zero distractions
That park would be my ideal workplace - no noise, people or distracting entities. There’s nature and comfortable silence.

If you are a freelance writer, I’d like to ask you what your current workplace is like? Mine is a desk lined with papers, books, to-do lists, in a room that has numerous things lying about and a window that overlooks a busy street. Not a pretty picture, is it? I plan to rent a room/office very soon that’d be far from the maddening crowd (my family included) and would give me at least a modicum of peace and professionalism.

Do you find yourself doing most of your work, or your best work at night? The reason could either be a natural creative affinity for the nighttime or lot of distractions during the day that keep you from doing your best.  Try to figure out what these distractions are, and if possible, eliminate them. 

#2 Set up your chessboard before you begin 
Always have your resources and everything else you need at hand when you begin work. So, freelance writers, do not start work on that article, until you have done all the research and have a rough outline of the article ready. Your content writing process shouldn’t be a long drawn series of write, pause, research, write, pause, think, research, write…. 

#3 Foster other personalities 
I like to think that all of us have several different personalities, not just one. The one that we are generally associated with is the most dominant one. This point is especially important for fiction writers, but equally applicable to non-fiction freelance writers.

Did you see how when Geri switched from one personality to another, it’d affect his playing ability? Notice how the haughty, confident old Geri made all the smart moves, while sweet, oblivious old Geri played hesitantly and ended up losing (almost – that slyness towards the end is something we freelance writers should learn too).

So, think of those times when you are very angry. How do you react to people and things around you? You may say, that’s a ‘part’ of your personality. But, what if it is a different personality altogether?  It could actually give you the mannerisms you can incorporate into the grouchy, secretive man who lives on the first floor of where your next novel’s protagonist stays.

For non-fiction freelance writers, fostering your different personalities can help you make your biased content pieces sound more authentic. So, for instance, if you were to write a blog on a saddening piece of news that you don’t really feel sad about, work up your sad personality (not emotion – they differ as a personality is so much more than an emotion), and then write that blog – your writing will be much more effective.

#4 Small changes can make a huge difference 
Do you notice how Confident Geri has a posture that’s relatively more erect and doesn’t wear glasses? These are physical attributes and ‘might’ not be have any bearing on how well he plays, but then again, have you noticed how often people associate good posture with confidence, and how often they are right?

So, make small changes in your work habits, workplace and yourself and try to gauge how they affect your work. For instance, I could sit erect when I type, move my desk towards the window, try to write early in the morning instead of late at night. These are small changes that wouldn’t inconvenience me at all, but the fact that there’s been a change might be enough to fire up my creativity and productivity. A lot of it is subconscious, believe me.

#5 Be sly 
The part where Sweet Geri fakes a heart attack and eventually ends up winning is my favourite. Learn to be sly like that. I don’t mean you start dealing cunningly with everyone. No. Be sly with yourself and aware of your own slyness. To understand what I mean, think of all those mornings when you knew you had to get up when the alarm went off, but your brain (your lazy personality, in this case) insisted five more minutes wouldn’t hurt. See how slyly it gives that suggestion that you don’t even realize what you are agreeing to as you switch off the alarm and drift off for the next half an hour. 

So, be sly enough to recognize when your other ‘undesirable’ personalities are acting up and be sly enough to outwit them. You will improve your productivity as a freelance writer. Honest.

If you are a freelance writer reading this, what did Geri’s Game teach you? Share with us in the comments.

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Author: Urooj Kazi is a professional freelance writer. To hire her, visit this website's Contact Urooj page. 



09/21/2012 19:27

Liked your take on the video. Where do I write - anywhere the mood strikes. Could be in bed (oh that sly lazy personality) or in the family room, or the kitchen table. Yes, I am surrounded by every piece of paper or book that seems relevant to what I need at the time.

Mix it up - all the time. From my monthly column, blog, mag submissions, or guest posts. Somedays it is all about content and somedays it is whatever prompt, prompts me. I write when I can, which means in between, long periods of time or spontaneously in the middle of the night. Routines are followed to produce but love to sneak in an unexpected writing moment when I can.

Personalities - not sure I have explored this other than the emotion that may drive the work. Will have to think on that one. Thanks for the opportunity to think about how, when and where I write.

06/03/2013 23:57

Thanks for sharing this writing tips! I must say this, after reading these tips you can surely improve your writing skills. Now you can earn huge money though freelance writing. Expecting similar informative article in future also!

07/26/2013 00:12

Hi guys I am interested in such a writing camp. I love writing short stories and novel and hope this would be the best platform for me. I have filled up the online form that you have shared here. Now would I get call from you guys? Can you explain how it works?

10/03/2013 02:29

Good Tips for freelancers! and hey Urooj. this YouTube link says video doesn't exist. Would you please make it correct, as I wanna watch this.

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