In this post, Guest Blogger Katheryn Rivas gives us a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the crazy issues involved in freelancing.
Working from home won’t get you any sympathy. If you tell friends that you’re scraping together a living writing, nine out of ten times they think, “wow, buddy, you’re living the life!” Obviously it does have its benefits (if not in the HR sense) and unique attraction for you, or you wouldn’t be doing it. But if you’ve pursued this livelihood for any length of time, you know it’s not all cookies and warm slippers.
At times it can be downright maddening — the plentiful distractions and temptations, the “cabin fever,” the lack of separation between work and life. Here are a handful of the most common issues I’ve found with what ought to be a dream existence:
1. Sleeping in.
Set your alarm for the same time every day. Studies are starting to show that the regularity of your sleep schedule is as important as the quantity. And once you’re up, do something active. Go work out, preferably: all that sitting in front of a laptop screen is terrible for your posture and overall health. But at least take a walk around the block or to a corner coffee shop. Set up a morning routine that gets you showered, clothed and invigorated within an hour or two after waking. These are the easiest hours to let slip by.
This is a less intuitive concern for most (after all, you’re a writer, not an accountant) but it can cause a giant headache if you aren’t prepared. One of the great inconveniences of an unconventional work life is an unconventional tax situation. If you’re self-employed, you may be required to file on a quarterly basis. Everything also becomes more complicated in terms of health expenses. On the bright side, you may be able to deduct a number of common expenses if they help you write. (I’m not sure if liquor counts.)
3. Your life.
Chances are, you also have things you enjoy doing, or obligations you must fulfill, beyond writing. The nice thing about having an office is that you generally leave that stuff at home. But when you ARE at home, how do you handle the interruptions, the distractions: the spouse dropping in for lunch, the kitchen that really needs cleaning even though you have a deadline today, the TV you “accidentally” turn on and then get sucked into for 45 minutes? You have to have a mixed approach, I’ve found: some amount of hard, blocked-out time (using an alarm or a program like Freedom if you’re a compulsive web-surfer), some amount of going somewhere else (like a coffee shop with Wi-Fi), and some of the things you gotta just surf with. Indeed, this is not always a bug, but a feature. Enjoy the perks, but don’t let them take over.
If you can stamp out these and other snakes in the garden of Eden that is freelance writing, you really will be living the dream life your friends already think you are. If not, you might, like me, turn into Jack Nicholson from The Shining for a while…but you’ll get the hang of it eventually. The coal mines it ain’t.
- Working at Home (clurradonald.com)
- Why We Keep on Freelancing Despite All Warnings (freelancefolder.com)
- How to Build a Career and Business out of Freelance Writing (writeandgetpaid.wordpress.com)