Oh the life of a freelance writer
Yesterday I finished critiquing a romance novel. Yes, for pay. And yes, I died a little inside by the time I got to the end. I have never read something with so many adverbs and adjectives in my life. But you know what, kudos to the author for getting out there and doing it. Yes, while I was reading the novel I couldn’t help thinking, “I could do so much better than this.” But the fact of the matter is, I haven’t. Maybe writing a romance novel is on my agenda, but it hasn’t yet manifested itself (you know, in my free time).
Meanwhile, my “regular gig” writing about French hotels is regularly behind schedule. I can’t rely on payment from them to be on time, so that makes things…difficult. On the plus side, they’re fairly lax about deadlines, and they keep sending me work. I know eventually they’ll pay me, even if they’re going to spend a few weeks on vacation and not tell me about it first.
I’ve also finally heard back from another travel site I wrote a post for a couple of months ago. She wants more work from me, so that’s good. But again, reliability is questionable.
Living the life…right?
Truth is, being a freelance writer is not that easy. Yes, it means I can be flexible (ish) with my location and schedule, and technically I am my own boss. But it also means that I have to motivate myself: I still work 9-5 (or 10-6. or 9-7. 5 days/week), and I have to decide how to best spend my time. If I have an impending deadline, I have to divide up my work in a practical manner to ensure it gets done on time. I don’t have anyone breathing down my neck to make sure I’m not browsing Facebook.
Building a Portfolio
But at the moment, I’m not too fussed about these inconveniences. I am working on building experience and a portfolio of work so that I can eventually move on to better-paid assignments. I know this takes time, and often you have to accept the less savory work before you can start doing what you’d really like to be doing. I think this is where many people give up: the building stage. Yes, some people get lucky and skip straight to the good stuff, but waiting for a “big break” is a lot like playing the lottery. Some people win, but most people just spend a couple bucks, shrug, and move on. You’re much more likely to get to the top if you put in the leg-work.
It can only get better
If I’m managing to scrape by now on the lower-end of the freelancer scale, I feel confident about what’s to come. The next step for me is to begin pitching to magazines and better-known publications. If I manage to keep up this momentum, it’s only up from here.