My daughter spent a couple of days in doctors’ offices last week, which, unfortunately, is a fact of her life. This is always stressful for both of us, but one thing I never have to worry about is asking the boss for a day off work to attend to such matters (I freelance for the Salkind Agency, in case you were wondering how that worked.)
One of the tremendous benefits of being a freelancer is the ability to make your work fit around your life instead of the other way around. I’ve been a freelancer for about fifteen years, and during that time, I’ve occasionally wandered into the world of job ads. (Every freelancer gets frustrated now and then and thinks the answer is a staff job.) I read through the qualifications list, checking them off, and then I get to the “benefits” list and try to imagine making my life work with five days’ sick leave and a week’s vacation each year.
It is to laugh. My life wouldn’t fit in those parameters. It couldn’t.
That isn’t to say that being a freelancer is easier than being a staffer (zeus knows it’s not). Nor is it to say that people who have staff jobs have it easy, what with knowing how much their weekly paycheck is going to be. Just that trying to make work and life fit together is a challenge for all of us, and it involves a lot of tradeoffs. I don’t have to worry about asking my boss for time off, but I also don’t get paid vacation, or sick leave, or employer-provided health insurance. Someone who has a staff job has to figure out how to care for the sick kid on the same day they’re supposed to close that big new account.
Now add in creative pursuits (we’re up to work + life + creative pursuits) and no wonder people feel they can’t achieve their dreams. It’s a lot of work and sometimes it’s just easier and more rewarding to turn on the television. In the short-run, anyway.
The biggest help for me, in making it all fit together, is to do combine tasks as much as possible. I schedule all my phone calls in the same couple of afternoons each week. I answer all agency queries once a week in a big batch. I run all my errands at the same time. I even schedule seeing my friends that way (I have been known to sit in the coffee shop for five hours, meeting with one friend after another.)
What’s your secret?
I have been working as a "staffer" for the last 4 years, after many years of freelancing. Now, more than ever, I need to be organized (if I am ever to finish my novel and all other "brilliant" ideas I come up with on an almost-daily basis). I clean the shower while showering. I read in the tub. I have a head-set so am able to talk on the phone with far-away-family members and wash dishes, throw in laundry, and other daily household chores that would otherwise suffer due to 8-5 day job.
And wow, do I get the "..sometimes it's easier and more rewarding to turn on the television.." I think, as a creative being (who is an online marketing guru by day), I need to shut it off — stop thinking. And I'm almost embarrassed to say that there are times I would rather watch 4 episodes of DIRTY JOBS, in a row, than to think about one more thing.
JENNIFER…I love your article on Writer's Digest. It's wonderful and you hit nails right on the head. Bam!
As for my creative life….I have a new laptop that has surged my writing life into gear. I also have am excited that I've found a writing group that meets during the week AM. I needed that recharge because my two "sister" manuscripts just aren't what 'they' want. So I'm off on Red Fury which is a long lost love that needs love/editing. So, I'm plugging away now with a different scenery than my office where I am doing more business stuff. I still treasure my selfimposed routine…do what needs to be done AM and get butt in chair PM noon. Some days it s a struggle but I truly do try to maintain this. It works for me. What needs to be done is done so I have a clear mind to write. Oh and my latest challenge…adding a workout time in there AM and maybe late PM. It's tough but I need that too.
Wishing you the very best and may all your clients end up on the NYTseller's list
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