There are probably two major problems when writers transition from working for others to true freelancing. I define freelancing as working for yourself in an environment you choose. Often that environment is a home office or other spot where there aren’t any other people working around you.
The most obvious challenge is what I call discipline. It’s the ability not to go back to bed but to get up and do your freelance writing and marketing on a regular enough basis to earn a real living.
Less obvious, at least before you experience it, is dealing with loneliness when you’re on your own. Even if you had an office with a door and were able to be in that office without interruption for long periods of time, you knew all you had to do was walk out your door and you were immediately amongst people.
Almost every job, unless it’s a lookout from a remote fire tower, means you’re dealing with people a large part of your day. We humans are, of course, are social animals and working alone can be a shock. Yet that aloneness is often exactly what’s required to get the very best writing done.
Prepare To Break Up Isolation
You’re best defense is to prepare for it in advance. Here are a few ideas that may help:
- Friends who are available by phone and even in person during the day can be invaluable. Knowing you can reward yourself with a call to someone who supports your efforts goes a long way toward breaking up the loneliness. Planning to join someone at the coffee shop in a couple of hours gives you interaction to look forward to.
- Find a workout partner. Knowing you’re going to workout with someone three days a week or so means you know you’ll be interacting with another human, even if it’s mostly grunts and groans while lifting weights or jogging on local trails. And if you’re not working out regularly, you probably should consider it. Staying healthy is part of the challenge.
- Lunch with someone from your former place of employment will probably help you recognize you really don’t want to go back.
- Working at a coffee shop or library can recreate the feeling you had at the office, which may help.
- A trip to the store can make you feel less alone. It’s even better if you use it as a reward for the writing you’ve done.
Network With Other Writers
Networking with other writers, both in your area and out of your area is great. Ultimately you’ll probably find these contacts are the most helpful because they will know what you’re talking about when you whine, and when you celebrate.
The place to find other writers is at writers groups, readings, passing out your business card (You do have business cards don’t you?) and generally letting people know you’re looking for other writers.
Here are the main ways I interact with other writers:
- I have four writer friends I know I can call or email when I need to connect with someone. Sure I have many more, but these four I count on and suspect they count on me.
- I have an accountability meeting with one of these writers. We tell each other what we plan to do and what we’ve accomplished.
- I meet with two writers monthly in a Mastermind Group. Not only does the group support me, just knowing they are their helps mitigate any feelings of isolation I might have.
Each of these ideas is sort of like creating a water cooler effect right where you are.
Of course, just the act of being alone and working, writing, over and over again means you’re practicing not only your writing skills but your ability to be alone. Many of us come to cherish that time.
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