Friends, I’ve gone part-time.
I’ve been talking about doing this for so long. I wanted to have just one day to myself every week that I could dedicate to writing, to building a little freelance world for myself, to focusing on the work I already have, to pitching for some more, and to working on some creative projects too.
And now I have it. In many ways I am living the dream. That is, if your dream is to spend a day each week suffering from imposter syndrome and looking at the sky and hoping that all of the work you could possibly dream of will just fall out of it and then crying as you realise that life doesn’t work like that.
Until recently I did all of this on Sundays. I wouldn’t allow myself to leave the house (except perhaps to pop out for a milkshake because I have NEEDS) and it started getting a bit unhealthy (the strawberry shakes may have had something to do with that). I didn’t let myself rest or really enjoy myself and I’d wake up on a Monday feeling like I’d been out raving all night, when in fact I’d just been staring at a computer screen all day.
But then I realised that perhaps there was another way. That I could still work and be part of a team (I’m a comms manager/copywriter type person the other four days of the week), write, and have a life by changing my working life a little. I am delighted that it’s been possible so now Wednesdays belong to me. I still need and want to write at the weekend and at other times too, but things are a bit more balanced now which is lovely.
I opted for Wednesday on the basis that people I email would hopefully be more likely to engage with what I send than they might be closer to the weekend, and also because Tuesday – formerly the absolute worst day of the week – now has a slight feeling of Friday about it (although I keep that to myself because sentences like that just make people hate you).
So now I am figuring out how to get the most from my day. I’ve had just three of these precious Wednesdays so far and even in that short time I have learnt a few things that I realise are essential for this freelancing game. Should you be interested in a similar lifestyle, here are six crucial things I recommend doing:
It is not the weekend. You are not on holiday. You will not be paid for a single second of this day unless you find yourself some work. In fact, a lot of the time you will make a loss because you will inevitably go to Starbucks and buy a dense chocolate brownie in the hope that the answer to all your prayers is hidden inside it. Spoiler: it isn’t but they are delicious.
If you’re anything like me then you will at least feel a bit more like a serious person if you’re wearing actual clothes and maybe even a bra. We both know that you don’t have to do this. You could stay in your pyjamas all day but if you do that it’s going to make it much more awkward when you…
3.LEAVE THE HOUSE
Go out. Go sit in a cafe and write emails. Or write notes. Or have thoughts. Or read something. Or go for a walk. You are running your own thing. Be free to do that thing in the best way and place that suits you. Let your brain breathe. Feel good about this opportunity. Smile at a dog or a baby. And then come back home before it gets dark and use that refreshed mind to KEEP GETTING THINGS DONE.
4.SEND THAT EMAIL. SEND ALL OF THE EMAILS.
Nobody is going to reply to your email if you don’t send it in the first place. That’s kind of the way correspondence works. The same goes for your tweet, letter, phone call or carrier pigeon. It’s frightening – SO frightening – but literally nothing will happen if you don’t do it. Nobody will know you exist. So have a good think, write down some words, have a little walk to the fridge, read it again, and then HIT SEND. (And do this about a billion times).
5.PUT YOUR BLOODY PHONE DOWN
WhatsApp is fun, yes, but it can wait. Yes I know you want to tell your mate Sarah how sweet you look in your new hi-top trainers but such words are not going to get you any dollar, are they? (I am telling myself off here. I did this today. I was right, they look ace, but I should have been WORKING NOT FANNYING ABOUT). Do not seek out distraction. Do not consider today the ideal opportunity to do a Facebook cull or to attach amusing photos to each of your phone contacts. Do that tomorrow on the train like a normal person.
If you’re a writer then you need to write things. Make time to do something creative. Yes, you need to email people and pitch and put yourself out there but you will be all the better at it if you keep writing creative, fun things and reminding yourself why you wanted to do all of this in the first place. It’ll also help you maintain the will to live when nobody is replying to you, which is important.
So yeah, I’m learning.
And I’m scared as hell because it feels like a very bold thing to admit that you are trying to do something. But, as mentioned above, there’s no other way.
If you have any tips I should add to my list, please do send them to me. I’d love to have another reason to be utterly distracted from what I’m supposed to be doing…