Hopefully, every adventure, every personal interaction, every career teaches us important life lessons. Being a freelance writer has taught me a number of valuable lessons that I think can be applied to so many areas of life.
- You can always make money. This was a great revelation. Just with my fingers, my brain and a computer, I know I will never go hungry. I may have to be a brilliant writer, a brilliant webmaster and a brilliant marketer in order to make a really lucrative living out of this field, but for survival, I can always count on the basics.
- You have to get along with everyone. Some people are pure joy to work with and some people are pure horror to work with. This is a lesson most people learn early in their careers and either put up with it or shut up about it. At one point, I left a job that I loved because I had to work with a toxic boss who ran the company. As a freelancer, I have a wide variety of clients and, unless I want to narrow my choice of assignments considerably, I have to be able to get along with all of them.
- I have to be disciplined. I may not work nine to five, but if I don’t put in a normal working day, I will not make enough money. I go to the gym each morning because I want to, but I have to put aside the temptation to stop for a nice cappuccino and sit on a bench and read a paper. (I live near the water, so it is a real temptation.) I go straight home and start work.
- I love my freedom. Well, I almost always go straight home and start work. If there are no very urgent deadlines, I do have the freedom to get a little shopping done, stop at the library (all writers are avid readers), even have that cappuccino.
- No, I don’t wear pajamas to work, but I could. It has become clichéd, but it really is important for a freelance worker to simulate the conditions of outside employment. Pajamas (or sweats or cutoff shorts) make me feel lazy and relaxed. That’s not how I need to feel when I have a deadline looming.
- I have to live in air tight boxes. This sometimes sounds cruel, but it is important to separate your work life from the rest of your life. Close the door and concentrate on work; ignore husbands and kids (unless they are small children and that is why you are working from home) and nosy neighbors. Pretend you are 15 miles away, in a big office building and they can only reach you by phone. Better yet, pretend you are in a meeting and they cannot reach you at all!
- I have to eat, exercise, and be a social creature. This may surprise some people, but many people, myself among them, have to remind themselves to stop and attend to the human being they are. I have many times worked straight through lunch, ignored an invitation to drinks or dinner or (heaven forbid) been tempted to skip the gym because I was so caught up with a project.
- I own a business that I have to take care of. I have to take the time to balance my business checking account, file my receipts, backup my hard drive, upgrade programs, and market myself. I have failed in each of these tasks in the past, and have suffered the consequent wrath of overdrafts, the IRS, computer crashes and dry spells without any work.
- Don’t complain. People are actually jealous of me because of my freedom, my interesting work, the money I save and my lack of a commute. I had better shut up and just enjoy it.
- When you are doing what you love, it is not work.
There are literally thousands of freelance writers on the internet. If you are looking for a writer, People Search is a great idea.