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You’re NOT Alone: Surviving Depression as a Freelance Writer

freelance writing with depression
Illustration by Sandpaperdaisy Art

This is either going to be one of the best, most helpful, posts I’m ever going to write (on LittleZotz Writing or anywhere else), or one of the worst. Either way, it’s going to be very long and deeply personal. I’m holding NOTHING back.

Why write about mental illness on a website dedicated to freelance writers? Why not write another post about how to up your blogging skills, or how to earn affiliate income? How could this possibly be useful to anyone on this “niche” site?

Well, in my experience, freelancers – particularly freelance writers – are more often than not “mentally ill” in some way or another. In fact, more than any other post I’ve written in my career, THIS is the one that I get emailed about the most. It’s a post I wrote, along with Sophie Lizard and Kelly Gurnett (both fantastically successful – and mentally ill – freelance bloggers) about dealing with mental health struggles as freelancers.

There’s something about being a freelance creative that really appeals to those of us with “brain problems.” So, yes, I think this post – even with its largely personal focus – is valuable for my audience.

However, unlike most of the posts on LittleZotz Writing, which provide clear and “actionable” advice for the problems they tackle, this post is going to be more-or-less a long ramble about my personal experiences dealing with mental health issues as a (successful) freelance writer. I’ll offer my opinions on what “works” and what doesn’t, of course, but there’s no definite “do it THIS way” advice I – or anyone! – can provide on this topic. Everyone’s mental health journey is different, and what worked for me might not work for you.

What I do wish to provide with this post is encouragement, honesty, and hope.

My dream is that, by being candid about my own life and experiences, I can help YOU – even if you’re just ONE reader – improve your life in some minor-yet-significant way. You’re NOT alone.

Continue reading “You’re NOT Alone: Surviving Depression as a Freelance Writer”

Welcome to the NEW LittleZotz Writing!

Hey, Everyone!

My name is Lauren Spear. Longtime readers will remember me as Lauren Tharp… That changed recently when I got married (4/27/2019) and proudly took on my fabulous husband’s last name.

And this here? This is my baby: LittleZotz Writing. It’s a pretty well-grown “baby” at this point — quickly heading towards its 10th birthday! — but you get what I mean. LZW is special to me, and to so many others.

To keep LittleZotz Writing “special,” and to celebrate positive transformations in my own life, I knew it was time to make some changes.

Continue reading “Welcome to the NEW LittleZotz Writing!”

8 Tips on How to Become a Successful Fanfiction Writer

Illustration by Ramiro Roman

I noticed on the Internet there’s a stigma attached to being known as a fanfiction writer. Go online and search for writing tips or advice; there’s a wealth of information on the topic, but generally with the intent to self-publish or solicit a publishing house. Almost never do you see advice catered to those who write fanfiction, and that’s missed opportunity.

Just look at the success of authors who got their start in fanfiction; such as E.L. James, Rainbow Rowell, and Amanda Todd. Authors who “graduate” from fanfiction to eventually create their own original works are a growing niche that mainstream markets have yet to fully embrace.

I’ve written fanfiction for over 20 years. Currently, I’m on the path writing my first YA novel, using my two decades’ worth of experience to mentor the new generation of writers on how they can position themselves as authorities in fanfiction.

Continue reading “8 Tips on How to Become a Successful Fanfiction Writer”

Top 3 Productivity Boosting Books for Freelancers


Illustration by Ramiro Roman

Sometimes, we need motivation from outside of ourselves to be as productive as possible.

We live in a world which is designed to distract us endlessly.

From never-ending emails to ceaseless app notifications, everything is set up to rob our attention away from us.

This conflicts with our desire to be as productive as possible and produce the best work we can.

So how can we regain control of our productivity and do our best work?

I’ve found that books are the best way to regain my focus and drive to work on the things that matter to me.


Today, I’d like to share three of the books that have helped me the most, along with some takeaway tips you can use to make more of your time.

Let’s get to it!

Continue reading “Top 3 Productivity Boosting Books for Freelancers”

4 Signs You’re Sabotaging Your Writing (And What to Do About It!)

Illustration by Ramiro Roman

Oh, the lovely struggles of a writer’s life — bloodthirsty deadlines, toxic clients, lack of inspiration… These things come with the package, whether you like it or not. But did you know that you are the greatest enemy of your own work?

Out of hundreds of excuses — bad days, the dreaded writer’s block or simple laziness — you, as a writer, bear the sole responsibility for whether words appear on the page or not. It took me a while to acknowledge this and improve (a bit). Now I want to make it easier for you.

Take a look at these four signs and see whether you’re making the same mistakes!

Continue reading “4 Signs You’re Sabotaging Your Writing (And What to Do About It!)”

7 Things You’ll Need to Know Before Becoming a Managing Editor

meditating editor
Illustration by Ramiro Roman

After just over five years of being the Managing Editor of Sophie Lizard’s Be a Freelance Blogger, I finally said “so long” to the job.

Why? Well, long story short, it’s because I’m now a full-time content editor for Syed Balkhi’s Awesome Motive, and I simply didn’t have time for BAFB anymore.

However, five years as a Managing Editor is a long time. Especially in the fast-paced online world. Five years can feel like a decade, especially where learning and experience comes into play.

There‘re so many things I wish I’d known before starting my career as a professional Editor. I learned, of course; but fumbling around using “trial and error” tactics was brutal at times. I desperately wanted someone “in the know” to tell me “THIS is what you should expect, and what you should do…”

But, hey! Now I’M that “in the know” person. And I have the power to tell YOU what you should expect, and what you can do.

So, without further ado, here’s a list of seven things you’ll need to keep in mind if you plan on becoming a Managing Editor: Continue reading “7 Things You’ll Need to Know Before Becoming a Managing Editor”

How to Invoice Your Freelance Writing Clients Like a Pro

Illustration by Ramiro Roman

What’s the most important piece of paperwork in your freelance arsenal?

The contract, right?

It’s that little piece of paper that outlines the scope of work, ensures your client is legally obligated to pay you, and is the official start to all new working relationships.

But here’s the thing.

If the contract is the start, then what’s the end of your agreement? What is it that ties off the agreement and lets all parties involved know that the job is, officially, complete?

The answer is your invoice.

Your freelance writing contract and invoice are the book-stops to the job you’ve agreed to take on. They’re the hard start and stop for each job. And sure, contracts might get more love in the freelance advice world, but these two should always go hand-in-hand.

The invoice you send to the client doesn’t just officially close the agreement (pending payment of it of course), but it reminds the client of the payment terms and work completed.

In my humble opinion, the invoice is almost as important as your freelance contract, but its one of those elements that gets very little coverage online.

And we’re going to change that.

I’m going to run through the key considerations for crafting a killer invoice, as well as list some awesome tools to help you look even more professional. Continue reading “How to Invoice Your Freelance Writing Clients Like a Pro”

6 Ways to Manage Your Fears and Turn Around Your Freelance Blogging Career

Illustration by Ramiro Roman

Do you know what happens when you allow fear to take up ownership of your life?

DOUBT, HURT, WHAT IF’S

Some define F- E- A- R as False Evidence Appearing Real

You know that all too familiar fear when you your client likes your pitch and now-you-have-to-put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is fear.

I struggled with fear management for two years, every time I decided to write something I would stare at the screen for hours at a time and produce absolutely nothing.

What happened when my fears tried to get the best of me?

I developed 6 ways to manage my fears and it turned around my freelance blogging career.

I’m NOT saying it’s the solution to all your freelance writing fears.

But it helps! Continue reading “6 Ways to Manage Your Fears and Turn Around Your Freelance Blogging Career”

3 Powerful Productivity Tips to Become a Better Freelance Blogger

Illustration by Ramiro Roman

Becoming an efficient blogger with a productive way of working is crucial to success.

It’s unlikely that your blog will fail from a lack of love for your topic. After all, you took the time to get started. That’s more than most people with an idea will ever do.

It’s more likely that life will throw curveballs that make it difficult to stick to your original vision. Unless you treat your blog as a priority, a ‘must’ rather than a ‘should’, it’s easy to let it stagnate and die.

If you want to give your blog every advantage, read on to discover:

  • How tech can help you stay focused while blogging
  • How mapping out your creative process can help you stay productive
  • How a strict schedule can make your blog resilient to life’s challenges

Continue reading “3 Powerful Productivity Tips to Become a Better Freelance Blogger”