If you’re used to commuting to a regular job, switching to freelance writing will plunge you into a weird and often wonderful new world.
The biggest difference is you’re totally in charge of your own time. You get to decide what time to start writing, how much to write, and when to quit for the day.
But writing is far from the only thing you need be concerned about. Even if you manage to walk away from your job with plenty of freelance writing work to do for your former employer, you’ve got to market yourself and your writing business – you’ll need to replace that initial client someday, I promise.
Then there are all the other things that go into making a profitable business of any sort – everything from updating computer to filing taxes. You’ll have to do things like keep track of your income and expenses, find and keep up with your own health insurance and other benefits. Heck, you even have to clean your own office, or hire someone to do it for you.
Assuming an eight hour work day, I find mine works like more or less like this:
Four hours actually writing. While that may include some creative starting out the window, it doesn’t include all the other possible distractions. I rarely spend those four hours all in a row. I usually have multiple projects going – for clients and for myself. If I try to push beyond four hours of real writing I find I’m trashed and unable to sustain it the next day.
An hour on writing related email. I wish I could say I spent less time, but I don’t. Writing related email means responding to clients and potential clients, and any other kind of followup or reading that is for my writing business. It doesn’t include quick emails to my kids or friends, although I’ll admit I sometimes do those in the middle of stuff.
The other two hours vary. Some days I’m meeting with clients or talking with them on the phone. I may have one or two coaching clients which require some prep time plus their phone calls. Marketing is close to the top of this miscellaneous list, although I sometimes can’t tell if I’m marketing or responding.
Reading – I often find myself reading about writing or just general non-fiction writing that falls at least partly under the rubric of work related in the evening.
Of course there’s lots of variation within these rough parameters. I meet with my accountability partners each week – we’re still experimenting with the time. I have lunch with my son a couple of times a month, which means those days I’m actually at my desk later into the afternoon than usual.
Flexibility is both one of the joys of freelancing and one of its problems. It takes discipline and persistence to make it all work.
And the cleaning of the office? I’m not good at this one so it usually happens in an hour or so on a weekend – not nearly as often as it might.
What does your writing day look like?