Last fall I took some advice to heart: Don’t give your work away for free. Don’t give your time away for free. Your work and your time are worth paying for. People who want your time for free will never pay you.

I agree. So I stopped giving my time away for free. And I stopped getting new clients.

Other advice: Raise your prices. I raised my prices — after all, my work is worth paying for — and I stopped getting new clients.

Then I was told to make sure that when you blog, do research to make certain what you are writing about, specifically, the titles you put above the subjects you are writing about, fits with what people want to read. You may be an artist, but your blog is your business.

Now I’ve been writing about whatever moves me every day since March 11. That’s a lot of days, and a lot of words, and I haven’t researched a single subject or title to figure out what I was going to write about.

There is a lot of advice out there, and I’m confident that much of it is designed to keep me from re-creating other people’s mistakes. Hell, I don’t want to recreate my mistakes. And yet I do. One of the mistakes is listening to other people instead of my own inner voice.

I had a lot of trouble with advice when I was younger, and I’d shut people out so I wouldn’t have to hear their opinions, instead of sorting through their opinions and getting to my own truth. I still do a lot of fruitless comparisons, finding myself coming up short by virtue of being me and not someone else who is so much better at being the person they are than they are at being a mirror of the ideal me who does not exist on either side of the mirror.

When I had my first baby I wanted my life to be a certain way, and that way involved sleeping more, and sleeping more meant picking up one of the books on child-raising I received at my baby shower. The moment I picked up a book and read the rules, I lost touch with what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. I lost touch. Reading kept me out of touch so often I had to stop reading most magazines, since magazines are, in general, designed to make us into perfectionists. Choose this method of folding your clothes, or this hazelnut varietal, or this recipe for cioppino / a happy, sexy marriage / painting your room / painting your nails — and your life will be better.

I stopped reading those magazines. I started looking for my own touch. The closer I get to what it feels like to be me the more touch I have, and it belongs to me only.

These days, I’m learning to work the way I want to work, eat the way that makes sense to my body, wear the clothes that make sense to me, choose the times and places and ways I show up in the world.

And I have a brand-new client. Before she hired me, I gave her some of my time. For free.