Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Freelance life: Love it AND leave it

Sorry to leave you hanging with that last post. A few of you have jumped in with interesting things to say, though. For some, there's a satisfying "changing of hats" that follows when you switch from article to novel, as reader Josi commented. Tracer suggested that maybe some dispositions are more suited to doing both--and I do think that's true, though I know some people who are ill-suited but do them both anyway :) Maryanne admits that the teaching life is definitely a drain on the creative life--to which I agree (even though I only teach 1ce a month and she teaches five days a week).

My ruminations led me to this: if you do indeed make your living as a freelancer you have to love it, and leave it both.

First strive for balance so that in the mad dash for work you aren't saying "yes" to more than you can handle, or to so much that you don't leave room for the creative. In January, for instance, I didn't say no to a single project that came my way. Result: overwhelm and an inability to even read, much less write. When I had a full-time job, in contrast, was in graduate school, doing a radio show and writing freelance articles on the side (yes, all at the same time), I got more fiction writing done than ever before. Why? Because I knew that if I didn't carve out the space for it, I would not do it. Since working completely for myself, no longer in school or doing a radio show, dedicated fully to all things freelance, I waste far more time. Time that could be spent writing fiction.

I have never lacked for self-motivation. I always knew I was a good candidate for working for myself because I prefer the spontaneous, volatile world of juggling projects to the security (mundane) of a position in which I work for someone else's goals entirely. I guess I'm typically right-brained in that way. But the other side of the coin is that the structure of the security model seemed to allow for more creative time. Now I have to really work at it.

So, treat your freelance life seriously--do the work, don't be lazy, plan ahead, research, network, etc, but if you also write fiction, remember that seeds won't grow without water. Sometimes turning down a project that pays, but one you know is going to be especially time-intensive or frustrating--is worth it. I am learning the fine art of saying no to money and discovering that that money always comes back to me in another way (project). On the same token, all the work I took on because I was feeling greedy for cash ended up taking longer to get to me than other money I was owed. So there you go.

(Yes, I think this post is more for me than for any of you reading).

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And on that note, the Write Free E-letter, edited by Rebecca Lawton and me addresses these kinds of issues every month. And subscribing is FREE. February's topic was Replenishment. Each year’s subscription brings 10 issues full of insights, activities, and open-hearted inspirations on how to attract the creative life. The issues come to subscribers’ email in-boxes each month for 10 months a year. If you missed any of 2007's issues, you can also subcribe for the low price of $9.95 to the Archives, and have access to all 10 back issues.


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