January 2018 Writing Life: My new year has kind of hit a snag [#yearofwriting]

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It’s the start of the year and it felt like a really exciting time when I wrote down all of my writing goals for 2018 recently. One of the things I didn’t consider at the time, though, is that I’d still like to continue doing these #yearofwriting posts because they have been a really good for me. I really enjoy keeping myself accountable with all of my work and still putting all of my clips on here. It’s very encouraging, and I hope to keep encouraging myself. So without further ado…

What was published: 

HipLatina, specifically: 

Look at all of that! Definitely a great way to start the year, I think. However, there IS a big change from the way I tracked #yearofwriting last year to the way I want to track it this year… Last year, I tracked the number of pitches (and assignments) that I received and I also tracked my word count. It turned out that I was able to write 277,889 words and sent out 92 pitches (with 16 acceptances). Although it was great to track all of that, it also took a LOT of work and that’s just not my focus this year.

Instead, I am focusing more on growing my business as a freelance writer and editor, and I want to primarily track my income. This month was really good for me because I spent 70% of my time (and had my earnings come from) my Freelance Editor gig at Brit+Co (more on that later) and the rest came from my steady freelance writing gigs (HipLatina and MamásLatinas), which is great.

How much I made: $5650

So all of that is great… EXCEPT that this is my last month as a Freelance Editor at Brit+Co. Unfortunately, I heard about a week ago that my position was being eliminated due to some budgeting issues. That’s a huge bummer and, honestly, I am kind of freaking out… But I am also still kind of processing and will likely have more to say about this in a bit. In the meantime, I’m still writing and… Trying to look forward to starting February on a less-than-stellar-but-hopefully-still-nice note.

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December Writer’s Life: How much I made & wrote in 2017 during the #yearofwriting

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Well, here we are. It’s the end of my #yearofwriting and I have some hefty writing goals to live up to. I’ll get into more of that later in this post, but first I just wanted to talk about December. What happened in December?

Well, for one, it was a VERY busy month for me personally. Not only did I have plenty of socializing and family things to do (what with the holidays and all) but I also got married at the end of the month. Yes, that’s right, I did a big thing and ended my year as a married lady. But enough about that because, really, you’re here to read about my writing, right?

So here’s the deal: December was pretty much a wash for me, work-wise. I didn’t really pitch (except follow-up with a couple of editors) but I did write a ton of stories that were previously assigned. The one new story that I wrote was actually for Glamour, which is one of my absolute favorite magazines. THAT was a huge win. I also started a new blog on Medium called Married Feminist and wrote my first post the day before my wedding. Hooray! Otherwise, here’s what I wrote this month.

What was published: 

HipLatina, specifically: 

The month definitely went very well for me, honestly. Although I didn’t have a huge variety in where my pieces were published, the pieces that I did write and see published were very, very exciting. Other than loving my Glamour piece, I am also particularly proud of my story on 2018 health trends, writing about Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Rosa coming out as bisexual, what it’s like to date an introvert when you’re an extrovert, and why it’s really not cool when people try to label me a “half-Latina”. Plus, I finally go to write about my Copenhagen trip!

All in all, I am increasingly proud of the work that I am doing for my regular publications, primarily HipLatina and MamásLatinas, and plan to continue to do more for and with them in 2018. And, above all, as I was hoping for last month, I hit my financial goals once more AND also a pretty sweet word count.

How much I wrote: 27,828 words

How much I made: $2000

I’m really curious to see what my “how much I wrote” and “how much I made” totals are for Q4 and for the year but, all in all, November and December went really, really well for me. It’s been really fun keeping track of these numbers to see how successful I have been.

If I were honest with myself (and with you), then I would say that this hasn’t been easy. Keeping track of everything I wrote and how much money I made was kind of exhausting, but really fun too. I was nervous a lot of the time and didn’t have solid financial goals for each month until the end, but it still feels like a HUGE accomplishment to have tracked the entirety of my 2017 to see how everything went down. And YAY for making my financial goals in December!

Pitches sent out in December: 0
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 0
Pitch acceptances: 0
Pitch reply with question: 0

Follow-ups with previous pitches: 2
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 1
Pitch acceptances: 1

Okay so pitch-wise, I didn’t do much in the month of December. What can I say? It was a busy month and… also, I didn’t really plan on pitching. I was busy just keeping up and doing everything that I needed to do for work while simultaneously putting the finishing touches on wedding planning and doing holiday stuff and I don’t even know what else.

I think it’s absolutely okay, though, that pitches were just not on my priority list this month. The good thing I did is that I followed up on some of my pitches and got an acceptance from Glamour for doing that. Woo!

And now, for the big math…

Quarter 4 totals: 

How much I wrote: 78,045 words
How much I made: $5,325
Pitches sent out: 10
Pitch acceptances: 1

I have to say: Quarter 4 went really well! Not a whole lot of pitches or acceptances (as predicted) but my word count was high and the money I made was pretty sweet. I think the biggest thing I learned is that I *can* do it. It takes a lot of hard work and determination, a lot of days of being stressed and overwhelmed and needing to practice self-care, a lot of naps and sleeping in because I need the mental break, and a lot of freaking out to my wonderful (new) husband Adam (who is thankfully always there to listen to my rants, no matter how often or how lengthy they get).

But ultimately, it was a big year of learning and I am glad for every step that I took to get here. My original writing goals for 2017 were difficult, but I accomplished almost all of them. And the ones I didn’t accomplish was mostly due to me changing my mind or deciding to take my career in another direction, and that’s okay too. So how did I do over the year, overall? Well, let me take a DEEP BREATH and tell you:

Year-end totals: 

How much I wrote: 277,889 words
How much I made (freelance writing): $19,451
How much I made (freelance editing): $42,930
How much I made (total freelance): $62,381
Pitches sent out:
 92
Pitch acceptances: 16

WHOA.

Just… whoa. Looking back on the year, I honestly cannot believe that I wrote almost 300k words. Do you know how much that is? That’s, like, three to four books. I basically could have written three or four full-length books in the year, and it’s absolutely insane to think of it that way.

As a journalist, I have honestly never thought about tracking my words in this way. I know that I have written a lot in years past, especially in my time as a staff writer for MamásLatinas, but this felt ASTOUNDING to me. I mean, truly astounding in that I could have never imagined that I would write this much in a single year. Doing this—truly doing it—during my first full year as a full-time freelance writer and editor, I’m so very proud for how much I was able to accomplish.

Beyond the word count, though, is looking at my finances.

My goals for this year was to save for my taxes (which I did!) and to publish in 17 different publications (which I also did!). I also wanted to launch a newsletter (which I didn’t) and finish my memoir book proposal (which I did, though I am still editing it). When I revised my writing goals for 2017, I added earning $2k a month in freelance income and also publishing five travel articles before the year’s end. Here are those articles:

All in all, I think I did pretty well. My income this year is pretty much in line with what I was making in my last year as a full-time staff editor, which was a big (secret) goal for me this year too, so I’m very glad for that. And, beyond that, I also had a 17% pitch acceptance rate—and that’s pretty awesome, too.

There’s a lot more I will be reflecting on in the coming weeks and likely months and even years, but all in all I would say that my #yearofwriting was a HUGE success. When I started this, I really wanted to know exactly how much I was writing and how much money I was making. It was all in an effort to improve my writing and grow my career, and boy did I!

For now, I will close out 2017 and say this: If I can do it… Start cold pitching for the first time in my life, give up a good career in NYC to freelance, work on a memoir while also working, get part-time and regular writing gigs, and earn a real living… All while having a personal life and taking plenty of time for self-care, not working evenings or weekends, enjoying my life AND my work… Then you can too, baby.

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November Writer’s Life: Finally hit my financial goals! [#yearofwriting]

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Last month, I wrote about a serious lack of motivation after a very crazy and busy September (due to Hurricane Irma and a 2-week vacation). I had recently updated my writing goals for 2017 and was hoping that November would go much better… And guess what, it did!

One of my BIG goals for the end of the year was to finish my memoir book proposal, which I did with one month to spare! That’s right, the Moscow Chica: How Growing Up in Russia and Cuba Made Me an American book proposal has been written and is now safely in the hands of some trusted editor friends. It feels absolutely incredible to have gotten this far with the book, even though I know there is still a ways to go. Right now, my big goal is to get the proposal back from friends and edit it again, before I can get it ready to actually seek agents and a publisher. So stay tuned!

What was published: 

HipLatina, specifically: 

The other big goal I had for the end of 2017 was to make $2,000 in freelance income a month. Although I didn’t quite get there in October (which I figured I wouldn’t due to the previously mentioned motivation issues), I was pleasantly surprised that I just made it in November. I honestly had no idea I was so close! So to see me back to my earning potential felt GREAT.

How much I wrote: 32,603 words

How much I made: $2025

In terms of my writing, I not only made my financial goals but I also wrote quite a bit. Most of that was for work, of course, but I also spent time working on the memoir. In fact, for my memoir, I wrote 10,341 words. That’s basically 1/3 of my writing productivity for the month of November and that feels SO good. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I can’t even begin to describe how good it feels to get this far on something I have been dreaming about for over six years.

Pitches sent out in November: 6
Pitch rejections: 2
Pitch non-replies: 4
Pitch acceptances: 0
Pitch reply with question: 0

Follow-ups with previous pitches: 3
Pitch rejections: 3

When it came time for pitches for November, I didn’t get very far. But then again, I didn’t really intend to. I basically took a “meh, if I have something really good” approach. Since I was confident that I would fulfill my financial goals just on my current regular work at HipLatina and  MamásLatinas , I only pitched when I *really* wanted to. It’s a strategy that served me well, in term of the time I spent, but I didn’t actually get any acceptances (yet) so I may changed my thinking for the last month of the year.

All in all, I think this has been a great month. I am truly excited to see what the last month of the year will bring. Having my writing goals for the year, along with writing these blog posts, has really taken my career to the next level. That’s not the only thing that’s done it, of course, but I  feel like I am slowly figuring out more and more about my work style, preferences, talents, etc. There’s a long road to go (I hope!) but, well… so far, so good!

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October Writer’s Life: Back at work but where’s the motivation? [#yearofwriting]

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Well, we’re officially in the last quarter of my #yearofwriting and I do believe I am doing pretty well… But not as well as maybe I thought I would be by this point in time? Let’s see.

After last month turned out to be a kind of disaster for my writing, in between Hurricane Irma derailing things and then a planned two-week vacation (which I am VERY grateful for), there just wasn’t much time to do anything during the month of September. My hope, however, was that I would do much better in the month of October since I was back to work full-time and no longer had Romper to worry about since I gave that gig up back in August. October, however, proved to be a bit trickier than I expected.

What was published: 

As you can see by the above, all I really published in October were stories from my two regular contributor gigs at MamásLatinas and HipLatina. However, I am definitely NOT sorry for this nor much surprised by it.

For one, getting back into the swing of things proved to be a bit more difficult than I imagined — but that’s okay, it happens. For second, I actually ended up having three weekends in a row where I traveled for one reason or another and this derailed some of my freelance and pitching plans. This, too, happens.

Yet I was actually able to accomplish quite a bit and, very happily, took on more work for HipLatina. I’m really enjoying writing for that site and am thrilled to be working more with such a great team. So how did I do?

How much I wrote: 17,614 words

How much I made: $1300

From May until August, I was working with Romper and writing a LOT. I was also earning a pretty decent regular freelance writing paycheck, so I was very curious to see how this month would compare to what I was making with them. My estimate (and please do forgive my math) is that I was averaging 32,778 words and $2,181 during my time with Romper.

As expected, my word count and my earnings went down but definitely not as much as I thought. Although my actual word count fell by about half, my earnings didn’t do quite as badly. For comparison, during my pre-Romper days, my average word count was 16,495 and monthly earnings were $1325. So, actually, I more-or-less came back to where I was at beforehand.

But the truth of the matter is that I simply haven’t been pitching or freelancing much outside of my “regular” gigs, so I do expect that to pick up once I am able to adjust to my new schedule and take on some more one-off pieces here and there. We shall see!

Pitches sent out in October: 4*
Pitch rejections: 1
Pitch non-replies: 3
Pitch acceptances: 0
Pitch reply with question: 0

*This was another case where, for one of my pitches, I sent a particular editor 8 separate ideas.

I didn’t pitch as much in October as I was hoping to do, but I still did okay. Considering that a few weeks of the month were almost cut in half for me, this is a pretty good average. The truth of the matter is that pitching can get really hard for me because, first and foremost, I have to do my Brit+Co editorial work and take care of my regular contributor gigs.

And you know what? I like this system. The more I have regular editing and writing coming in, the calmer I feel. Considering that I made about the same amount of money and wrote about the same amount earlier in the year, when I was pitching like a madwoman, is giving me hope that this new system is actually better. I’ve definitely had some more time to focus on personal projects on the side (like my memoir, Moscow Chica) and that has been an awesome change since the start of my #yearofwriting. Finally!

Back at the beginning of the year, one of my big goals was to get published in 17 different publications but I already accomplished that. In fact, I posted a big list of my accomplishment and then revised my 2017 writing goals. I feel pretty good about the direction I am heading, and I am sure that I can accomplish quite a bit more in the last couple of months of the year.

For now, let’s see what happens.

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September Writer’s Life: Hurricanes & a real vacation [#yearofwriting]

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What can I say about the month of September? To be honest, I don’t even know where to start. The truth about this month is that I almost didn’t work. First of all: I had a pre-planned vacation for a good chunk of the month.

My fiancé Adam and I had been planning our trip to Europe ever since I surprised him on his birthday with concert tickets to see one of his favorite artist who was going to be giving a once-in-a-lifetime concert in Tilburg, The Netherlands in September. We decided to visit Amsterdam for a week and pair that trip with two cities in Germany: Cologne and Frankfurt.

Other than that, however, Hurricane Irma struck our hometown in Southwest Florida and threatened not only our home but also our travel plans. Thankfully, our home was mainly unscathed and we made it to Europe as planned. The only problem came in that, because I was so busy and overwhelmed by hurricane prep, I had no time to do any kind of writing in the week and a half before our trip. And, of course, the two September days after we got back were primarily spent catching up on everything.

So what I am saying is this: Excuse me if this month seems less-than-ideal in terms of my #yearofwriting progress.

What was published: 

Basically, all of the pieces that were published under my name this month were all things that I wrote the month before. But that’s okay. When you’re faced with a hurricane and a two-week vacation, life happens. And it’s really important to let life happen, I think.

I did write one piece, the 12 Foods Every Cuban Grew Up Eating for HipLatina, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (which runs from September 15-October 15). Definitely proud of that one!

How much I wrote: 3,749 words

How much I made: $100

The one great thing that came out of writing this month is that, encouraged by my incredibly supportive partner and fiancé Adam, I made some real headway on my memoir, Moscow Chica. He basically forcefully encouraged me to spend Labor Day weekend on the project, which I did. Happy to report that my book proposal is close to being done. And I definitely could NOT have done it without his not-so-gentle nudging.

Pitches sent out in September: 0
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 0
Pitch acceptances: 0
Pitch reply with question: 0

Follow-ups with previous pitches: 0
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 0
Pitch acceptances: 0

Obviously, since I had NO time to write, I also had no time for pitches this month. Oh well. I think I can just shrug this one off and tackle some SERIOUS pitching in October, which will be my first full month of being back on the full-time writing horse. (Um, is that a weird thing to say?)

Quarter 3 totals: 

How much I wrote: 61,336 words
How much I made: $3716
Pitches sent out: 4
Pitch acceptances: 1

Here’s to the end of the year going MUCH better than Quarter 3!

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