I have been a freelance writer since the beginning of 2016.
I have had many wonderful experiences, as well as many terrible ones. The majority of my frustrations with the “business” of freelancing have to do with the people.
As a writer, I was “raised” to work as part of a team. However, working with clients, there’s often an unspoken understanding that the partnership is not a “team effort.” Client tells writer what to do, writer does job, client gets upset if it is not identical to ridiculous expectations, writer cannot defend themselves because they need to pay rent.
I do not approve of the way I, and many other writers I’m sure, have been treated.
A writer is a communicator. They translate and transmit important messages. But that’s not all they’re good for. They know how to look at things at different angles. They have problem-solving skills those who lack creativity don’t. Writers are not better than anyone else — they are assets just as valuable as designers, and data analysts, SEO specialists, CEOs.
So why are we ever treated otherwise?
Writing, the act of actually putting words onto a page, is a solitary activity. It’s unproductive if two people try to write the same words at the same time. However, the active writing stage is only one of MANY steps of an editorial process. I’ve encountered too many “business owners” who do not understand this, and I’m putting my foot down.
No more. If I can’t be part of your team, if I’m not allowed to give suggestions, share ideas, speak my mind, there’s plenty of other work out there that fits my qualifications. And I am not the only writer who has ever felt this way. If you are not willing to let creatives be creative, we aren’t going to stick around.
I’ve had clients tell me not to think outside the box, to “just do it the way it’s always been done.”
I’ve had clients tell me how to write an introductory paragraph “the right way.”
People have said to me, “You’re such a great writer,” and five minutes later, criticize every inch of my work without bothering to point out what’s so “great” about my writing.
Any writing experiences I’ve had that involved working together as a group — writers, editors, managers, tech masterminds — has been a productive, pleasurable experience. Unfortunately, environments like this are difficult to come by, especially in the freelancing world. Sometimes my main contact will send me a message stating “we would like you to make these changes” and I don’t even know who the collective “we” is referring to. I don’t like that. I’m doing my best to move away from these situations, because to me, they are not productive or worthwhile.
I do not write to be published. I write to grow and to share ideas with others. Maybe that makes me a wrong fit for freelancing. I don’t know. But I am grateful to now have a set of fellow writers and editors who I work closely with on a daily basis, who listen to my ideas, who are interested in all of us growing as one collective unit. I could not have asked for a better gift this year.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-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.