As a freelance writer you’re entitled to both sick days and time off. You won’t, of course, be paid while you’re down with a cold or the flu, or off relaxing in your favorite retreat. You also won’t be hassled by Human Resources if they decide you’re sick too often, or if you want to extend your vacation by a day or a week.
And then there’s the potential problem of explaining that you’re sick or on vacation to those clients who tend to panic or think they own you.
Advantages and disadvantages – which seems to be true of almost everything.
Often it will be savings that allows you to truly take care of yourself, and that means learning how to manage your money well.
Years ago I worked as a tech writer for a local computer company. I was astounded when I got paid for days I had been out with a cold or flu. As a mostly freelancer it had never occurred to me someone would pay me when I wasn’t working. It made sense to me then and it still does. After all, if someone with a cold can afford to stay home, it’s less likely the whole office or shop floor will get sick.
Although I am pretty healthy, I do suffer from migraines. They started when I was 12 and continue even now.
I’m actually grateful for them because although hugely painful, they also showed me pretty early on in my adult life that I had to find something other than a typical office job to support myself. It turns out managers won’t put up with someone not coming to work for as much as four days in a row because of a headache – particularly when that happens once a month or so.
Since as freelance writers we don’t have companies that can pay us to go back to bed when we’re sick, we need to save enough money so we can cover ourselves and do the kind of self-care we need to do.
We also need to be willing not to return client’s phone calls, texts and emails when we’re sick. A quick text saying something like: Am down with cold from hell – will be back in touch in a couple of days will help you set the boundary you need. Keep in mind that trying to write when you’re sick usually means poor writing and may mean you’ll be sick longer because you’re not taking care of yourself.
I love the word, recreation, because it describes so clearly what we writers need often – and that’s time to recreate ourselves and our ideas, to refresh our creativity.
While sleep handles a lot of this for us, and we also need real time off if our talent is to grow.
One of the problems with freelance writing is the scheduling of time off. It’s so tempting to work weekends and holidays. It’s so easy to skip real vacations. particularly if our cash flow feels limited.
If you’ve got multiple clients, figuring out when is the best time to take time off can seem impossible.
The trick, of course, is for you to decide when you’re taking time off and just informing your clients of the dates you’ll not be available. You don’t even need to tell them why. Up to a point, the more notice you give them the better. If you can provide the writing they will need during that week or two, great. But it’s not required. After all, if you were in an typical job they wouldn’t be able to get writing done by you during your vacation.
Sick days and time off are up to you
When it comes to sick days and time off you’re the one who is in charge. Once in awhile you may lose a client, but you will anyway. Taking care of yourself means you can continue to do the excellent work you do and if a client doesn’t get that it’s much more their problem than yours.
Write well and often,
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