The idea of freelancing as a writer is good in theory. You can do writing work and write your novel but the reality for me was quite different.
To make the money required for living, I had to do good quality jobs with clients who were prepared to pay good amounts of money and it seems since anyone can call themselves a writer, there was no lack of those who were willing to be paid 2 cents a word for a piece of writing.
While I specialise in business writing, I always had work but as someone who doesn’t embrace mindfulness very well and who has two children both requiring university and school fees to be paid monthly, the anxiety of monthly scrabbling around for some work began to wear me down and it crushed my time supposedly put aside for writing the book.
Why would I write the book when I have paid work to finish, so I can bill it, so I can get it in before the school fees are due, so I can get it in before the rent is due. It was cycle of pain and worry, and to be honest, I didn’t always think people were getting my best work.
And there is the holidays. Below is an actual image of freelancers trying to hang on through the holidays.
Finding work takes time as a freelancer. I was very good at it but it was exhausting and relentless. Because I specialised, I was recommended to others by clients but it was sometimes dire and sometimes it was too much and so the anxiety forced me to stop writing my book and then I would become too busy to write my book.
And then there was the “brief creep”. The client starts out asking for a small thing and it ends up being bigger and bigger and you have to make sure you’re reminding them this will cost and keep it all documented in emails and then they balk at the costs.
What about competition? So many people are writing now and it means the quality isn’t always amazing and the costs to clients are lower.
For me, the idea of freelancing was only ever a means to an end but then kept going. Then I realised I wanted my job to support me as a writer not to impact my writing. I can’t do ten jobs in a week and then still expect to write 14,000 words a week for my book.
The freelancing was stressful and hurt my work as an author.
So I found a full time role that met my needs as a person, parent, partner and gave me the peace of mind to be able to devote my writing time to only my own creative work.
It is an odd feeling going from jumping from project to project and now being able to full immerse myself in the companies work and then when I go home, I have a single book to write.
I managed to write 20,000 words last month. I am hoping to write 62,000 words this month and finish my book, which my publisher is patiently waiting for.
I know myself and I know don’t do well with anxiety about the future. Dave reckons I am never happier when the food shopping is done and I have a few meals cooked in the freezer in case the ice age comes and we can’t get to Aldi.
To write I need block of time and for the first time I have this. And it is a godsend. I don’t have to keep going back to what I wrote three weeks ago to see how the story is progressing as I write.
I don’t have to get my head back into that space and I don’t feel guilty when I think I should be writing for paid work. Writing is a pleasure again and that is a true gift.
You have to do what’s right for you, but as my writer friend Jacquie calls them “A set and forget job,’ can be the greatest thing you will ever do for your writing.