Freelance Writers Can’t Work 100% Every Day – At Least I Can’t

by Anne Wayman

freelance writer spring feverI didn’t sleep much last night.

Who knows why. My mom used to call sleepless nights ‘white’ nights – I’ve never known why.

This morning my head is full of fluff. I don’t really want to write. What I want to do is have the writing done so I can go sit in the sun and read novels. And then take a nap.

I don’t want to deal with my to do list. Oh, I am looking forward to a client call and a trip to the chiropractor, but today I really don’t want to work.

Maybe it’s not the sleepless night, but spring fever. Or it could be my bio-rhythms I suppose – do we still do bio-rhythms? How about that mood ring I lost long ago? Oh never mind! I’m really dating myself now and I ┬áhave lots of stories I could tell and none of them make a darn bit of difference right now.

The truth is I’d rather not work today.

Truly, it’s not a big deal!

I remember well when I’ve had ‘normal’ jobs in ‘real’ offices working for someone else that I had days like this. Not a ton, not very often, not enough to be called a slacker. But they happened. I’d gossip more, or take longer breaks or both. In fact no one in those offices, or any others I suspect, ever worked at 100 percent all the time.

I can cut myself some slack.

The only deadlines I have are totally self-imposed. My week is such I can roll a few of those over. Instead of starting at 7:30 like I usually did, I got the cats fed and went back to bed until 9:30 or so.

That couple of hours felt great. I’d like more, but it’s not to be today.

That said, I’m still not working at full speed. Not really.

I’ve been supporting myself with freelance writing forever it seems and I trust my process. I know I’ll get the work done – just not as much of it today as I’d originally planned.

We all need down time

Come to think about it, I wrote more than usual yesterday, which isn’t the reason I didn’t sleep last night, but probably has contributed to my less-than-creative feelings today. The truth is three or four hours of real writing or editing is about all I can handle in a single day – when I go much over that, I am anything but fresh the next day.

We all need down time, or re-creation time.

It might mean taking a three day weekend, or an hour’s walk, or a three week vacation. Or sleeping in after you feed the cats.

I’m so fortunate

I’m so fortunate that I can work at home at my own pace. I don’t have to pick bags of strawberries in Roundup contaminated fields or push gears into widgets at a predictably fast pace, or break apart ships getting covered with toxins and get paid pennies a day if I’m lucky.

Nor do I have to sit in someone else’s office hoping no one will notice I’ve again kicked off my shoes as I check on other people’s work, or they check on mine. And I don’t have to drive to work, or take a bus, or a car pool.

Freelance writing has been good to me, and I’ve been pretty good to it, come to think about it.

Give yourself the space to be the best writer you can be, remembering to be of service and to take care of yourself. The world will be a better place because of it.

What’s your take on days when you aren’t working at your best?

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman freelance writer

 

 

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan Stelter May 23, 2014 at 5:37 am

I agree with it 100%, but it’s so hard for me to do. I don’t make a ton of money as a freelance writer, but I do make a full-time income.

It’s still hard to take a break from marketing because I’m in the early days of my business. Will that next client be there when my current projects come to an end?

That’s something I need to work on, and it makes it easier to take a break when someone else admits they do too.
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annew May 23, 2014 at 9:36 am

Dan, yes, sometimes you simply need to schedule down time just as you would an appointment with a client.

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anj May 23, 2014 at 12:24 am

Ann,
This is such a relevant post. I am currently living in Hong Kong and I have landed a plum assignment with big realtor. The week is ongoing and very interesting but come July I have a holiday planned to a friend’s 40th celebration in Sri Lanka. I am hoping to write my weekly posts in advance so I can get the time off. I really hope the client agrees otherwise I will be chained to my computer and hotel Wi-Fi until I am done. Sigh!

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annew May 23, 2014 at 9:36 am

Sounds like a reasonable plan, ANJ. Congrats on the assignment.

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Laura Spencer May 21, 2014 at 11:16 am

The lack of paid time of is definitely something freelance writers need to plan for. As you point out, none of us is invincible. We all need to take breaks, or we get sick, or we need to deal with other issues.

For writers who charge a living wage, this need for time off is probably not a problem. For writers whose rates are too low, taking time off could mean a financial disaster.

Thanks for writing this post and pointing out how very human we all are.

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Laura Spencer May 21, 2014 at 11:18 am

It should be time off, not time of. :)
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annew May 21, 2014 at 11:38 am

Laura, just did about a gillion searches and I can’t find where I said time of… and I sure can’t see it… which doesn’t mean it isn’t there!

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annew May 21, 2014 at 11:39 am

Savings! Charging enough and having savings… and planning for time off… that’s what we all need. Not always easy, I know.

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Sharon Hurley Hall May 21, 2014 at 9:29 am

Sometimes I cut myself some slack and do other things; depends on the deadlines. For example, I’m not in the mood to write today, but if I don’t it will mess up the rest of the week. :)
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annew May 21, 2014 at 10:03 am

Yes, there’s that… and sometimes the slack time makes the writing faster. Not always, but sometimes… a true balancing act.

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Dava Stewart May 20, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Lately, I seem to be butting up against this issue more often. Whenever I have time scheduled to work on any one of several projects, I often find myself scrolling around on Google+ and not working at all.

It could be because I have more projects on my desk than ever, and a little fear is starting to seep in: what if I’ve taken on too much? It’s a silly fear, and one that will self-perpetuate if I’m not careful.

But you are right, Anne. Sometimes those empty afternoons are necessary, or those extra two hours of sleep make a big difference. Learning to recognize one’s personal ebbs and flows makes a huge difference.

I hope that you sleep better tonight!
Dava Stewart recently posted..Diversify & Other Lessons from the Freelance Writing WorldMy Profile

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annew May 20, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Dava, I find these periods, when I look back, come in waves… usually meaning I need more than an afternoon… and thanks, suspect I’ll sleep well tonight.

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