I finished up three very big projects for clients this week. A few of them had been ongoing for a few months, which is a new thing for me. At the beginning of the week I was feeling burned out and frustrated, especially knowing that I still had a ton of work to do. I finished one project and felt okay. Then my long-term client told me it would be a few weeks before he had more assignments ready, to which I promptly responded, “No problem – take your time!”
Indirectly, my hard work paid off in the form of an almost-vacation … for the first time in the six months since I started freelance writing.
Six months without a vacation, Meg? Are you crazy??
Nah. I mean, not any more than any other writer/recent graduate/20-something.
What’s hard for people to understand is that I ENJOY working! Writing itself is an overall positive experience for me regardless of the subject matter. I am a freelance writer not just because I am desperate for an income but ALSO because I like to write. Yet that does not mean I don’t put any effort into what I do, or that it doesn’t completely wipe me out by the end of a long week.
Lately I’ve been struggling a lot with frustration and burnout. My fault, but it’s still hard on me physically and mentally. So as I was finishing up these big projects this week, I went back and forth in my head, wondering if it was time to ease back on freelance work and start pursuing a “real” job.
After a lot of tossing and turning and icing my hands (yeah … typing for a living hurts), I knew I had to make a decision. Continue freelancing as close to full time as possible, or start hunting for a job with regular hours and paychecks?
As you probably already know, Im not much of a quitter. Especially after only six months of trying something. So I’ve made my choice, and I’m not looking back.
I figure … let’s give this whole freelance writing thing another six months.
Because yes, there are days I wish I had a nine-to-five desk job. There are moments I wish I didn’t have so much freedom to work when and where I wanted (it sounds glorious, but when your office is also your bedroom, trying to staying motivated on Friday afternoons when there’s still work to be done is an absolute nightmare). I still keep an eye out for full-time writing and editing jobs, just in case.
But for what it is – being able to write and pay tuition and student loan debt with my earnings, no matter how small – freelance writing is a pretty sweet gig. I’m lucky to be able to do it, and to have formed good relationships with a few long-term clients over a six-month period. Not everyone can say they’ve been able to do that. Everyone complains: it’s human nature. I try to focus on the benefits and take those rough days one at a time, hour by hour, word by word if I have to.
I suppose the most valuable thing I have learned over the past six months isn’t how to negotiate higher rates or how to develop a better sense of which clients are acceptable to work with and which aren’t. I think the most important lesson I have taken away from the first big step in my professional writing career is that this really isn’t for everyone. Saying you want to try freelance writing without really knowing what you’re getting into isn’t smart. You have to have enough discipline to set and stick to your own hours, make time for research and rewriting on top of just writing and submitting. You have to be willing to take on extra projects (still for $$, of course) to show clients you are reliable and worth their time. And deadlines. If you can’t meet deadlines, I can tell you right now, freelancing is not for you. Not yet, at least.
Work has been a mix of fun, challenges and growth – all things we really need as writers in order to keep from getting bored. The more hours I work and the more contracts I complete, the more opportunities I will have in the months to come (which is why I love, and will always recommend, using Upwork when you are trying to start a freelance writing career).
I’m excited for those opportunities. But for now, I’m going to take the weekend off from writing (don’t worry – posts will still be going up while I indulge in a long and much deserved slumber). I’m in the middle of watching all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies right now – for the first time ever. Sometimes, watching other writer’s stories come to life on screen is pretty inspirational, even if, at least for the next few days, I will NOT be getting back to writing.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.
Image courtesy of pixabay.com.