Thursday, September 6, 2007

Why I Love Being a Freelance Writer

When I moved to freelance full time two years ago, my friends thought I'd have a schedule where I could drop everything at the drop of a hat and my family thought that because I didn't have a "real job," I was available to chat on the phone whenever they pleased.

While I do have flexibility with my work day (no crawling out of bed to be in an office at 8 am, which is bliss to this night owl), I do put in a full day almost every day. Sure, I can play with my scheduling a little bit and on days when I'm not swamped with work, I can sneak away to meet a friend for lunch or get in some much-needed bowling practice with my new ball. Like anyone in an office job, I have busy days/weeks, and I have slow days/weeks. What it doesn't mean is that I'm parked in front of my tv watching the soaps and eating chocolate all afternoon. Heck, I don't even take naps.

But freelancing is my dream job, and these are the reasons I like it so much.

1. I can set my own hours. My natural body rhythm is to sleep until 10 am and stay up until 2 am. I can also write late at night when the phone isn't ringing and the house is quiet.

2. I can come to work in my jammies if I want. Thank goodness I don't do morning interviews on a web cam. It would scare people away.

3. No boss staring over my shoulder. I don't know how other people feel about that, but to me, it was a breath of fresh air. I worked with plenty of people who needed hand-holding from supervisors, but I am -- and always have been -- an independent worker. Give me a job and I can do it in my own fashion most efficiently. That's excellent for freelancing. Not so excellent for a micro-manager boss. I had plenty of clashes with bosses over the years because it always looked like I was goofing off when in fact I had the work well under control. I had one boss tell me I could never work for myself because I'd get nothing done. That boss lost his job after I left. As for me, with no boss, I can accomplish 3 times as much as I ever did before in a typical week.

4. I get to choose. A freelance artist said to me once that as freelancers, we can't be picky about the work that falls in our laps. I beg to differ. First, nothing falls in my lap. I work hard to get my assignments. Second, I can choose the type of writing I want to do, the subjects I work in, the editors I work with. When one assignment turned into a nightmare and less pay than I was told, I said thanks but no thanks when asked if I wanted another assignment.

5. I can work from anywhere. This summer, me and my trusty laptop went to the Pacific Northwest to help my daughter move. Last fall it was a trip to the Chicago area. Spring break was in Florida. Unless I told my editors, they didn't know I was gone. I answered my emails and was able to answer phone calls and hit my deadlines. Because we're empty nesting now, when the husband goes on business trips, I can go along. And as my friend said last night, if we hit the Power Ball, I can write from beaches around the world. It also can be as simple as working from my living room couch on a summer afternoon so I can watch a baseball game while I hit my deadlines.

Bonus plus: no air conditioning. To me, there is little worse than having a beautiful summer day only to be shivering in air conditioning. My house doesn't have A/C, and I can sit in my office with the windows open, wearing summer appropriate clothes, and enjoy the weather. Or if I don't need to be attached to a phone, I can head outside to work. Which is what I think I'll do now.

Next up: the downsides of freelancing and what I think it takes to be a successful freelancer.


Patti said...

loving the new site...and am looking forward to the downsided post.

Lori said...

Nice post, Sue. I agree totally. Freelancing is the best job in the world. :))

I'm putting you on my blog roll, too. I like your style!

Marijke Durning said...

First - THANK YOU for changing your format. I like reading your blogs but the white on black was killing my eyes. I really like this format. Very nice to look at and much easier for me.

Second, I like your list. I would add that as a freelancer, I have the freedom to think. When I worked in an office, I found that hard. I would be thinking about something and get distracted because of other things and other people. Unless my house is on fire, I can think what I want to thing about, when I want to think about it and however long I want to keep thinking about it.