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Freelance Writers, Money, Courage & Prudence

I caught Lori Widmer’s tweet about her post called Starvation as Motivation. She opens with the question, “If you’re not starving, are you really an artist?” I don’t know about you, but  long ago let go of the idea that the amount of money I have or haven’t says anything about my ability as an artist or lack of it. Besides, I consider myself a writer, not an artist, a potter, not an artist. None the less, Lori makes a good case for the threat of lack of income helping motivate at least some freelance writers.

Her post also points to What’s Your Contingency Plan? by Jennifer Williamson over at CatalystBlogger. She talks eloquently about the need for saving and developing additional contingency plans after pointing to Deep in Debt, and Now Deep in Worry. That article is by Ben Stein at the New York Times. Stein worked as a freelancer in Hollywood and describes and says, among other things that freelance writers have “the most insecure existence imaginable.” Never mind that I can think of several other lives that are even more insecure – name any war-torn or famine-torn country – he’s right about the need for prudence. 

All of which led me to start thinking about courage. It takes guts to step out of the accepted norm of a 40+ hour a week job with a commute and a regular paycheck. In uncertain times like these, the idea of a regular paycheck becomes less believable, but a job is, in some ways, a simpler way to live. I also believe when any of us move away from the herd, it’s good for society at large. But heck, that’s philosophy and I have way too much to do today, including some earning and savings, to probe too deeply there.

Do you have a plan in place if the income you’re expecting doesn’t show up? Tell us about it.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Hi, Anne. For me, worry is not a motivator, it’s nothing but an energy drain, a distraction that takes my focus away from what’s immediately in front of me. The solution to a financial fix (or any problem) often isn’t found in a full-on, frontal attack. Often the answer lies on a 90° course, which may take me into uncharted territory. I’ve learned in recent years that if I don’t panic, many times I’ll see the solution is already right at hand. Doing the next indicated thing works a lot better for me than getting into the squirrel cage and worrying non-stop, day and night.
    Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.

    jorgekafkazar’s last blog post..Between the Universe

  • I would have been starving if I hadn’t been mooching off my parents at the time. 😛 I was definitely desperate when I got into writing content for my blogs and websites though. I had RSI and too much pain in my hands to do any kind of normal job I might qualify for. I figured out how to make money online because it was something I could do from home using voice recognition software.

    A regular job may be simpler but I don’t think it’s safer.

    More by accident than design, writing web content has turned into a pretty recession-proof gig for me. I think it’s scarier to work one job and rely totally on that for your income. If you’re fired, that’s it. If something happens to one of my sites or one of my advertisers, I have others that keep bringing in the money.

    That said, I think there’s a big difference between writing for your own sites and freelancing writing for someone else. With one you’re creating your own asset that you control 100%, and with the other you’re offering a service. A recession is a scary time to be in a service-based job, because services are the first thing people cut back on.

    Lindsay’s last blog post..Increase Your Blogging Income with Product Reviews

  • I hope that you don’t have to be starving to be an artist! Er, not that I’m an artist in anyone’s definition of the word. But worrying about money can be a big motivator when it comes to getting some of us to be more active on the job search front.

    I think it takes guts to be a full-time freelancer, I really do. I’m lucky that I don’t have to actually pay the mortgage on my income right now. If I did, well…my home would be my Mazda. But I do need the income that I bring in from my freelance work, and the recent downturn in the economy has caused me to be more proactive about looking for potential work.

    Jennifer L’s last blog post..Disappointment sets in, with A-Rod’s steroid admission

  • A great set of articles, indeed. This is certainly the biggest issue I have with “taking the plunge” and going freelance full time.

    Andy Hayes’s last blog post..Inspiration to Travel

  • Thanks for the link love, doll! :))

    Lori’s last blog post..Creating Value and Loyalty in a Sucky Market

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