Welcome to Writer Rants–where every Friday a writer just lets loose on whatever the heck is bugging them this week. Enjoy.
Freelance writing is one of those occupations that sounds a lot more glamorous than it actually is. When clients hire writers, they probably assume that those writers do their work on a souped-up MacBook in a well-lit home office with a super plush chair. They sit down with their fresh brewed cup of coffee, focus solely on crafting a well-written piece, send it off, and then relax with a good book.
As any real freelancer knows, this vision is just a fantasy. The reality of freelancing is far less exciting.
As I write this piece, I’m sitting in my home office. And by “home office”, I mean I’m sitting on my couch while one kid watches clips on YouTube (loudly, might I add) and the other whines about wanting a snack (again, loudly). I was interrupted four times before I even started writing a sentence, and I’ve had to stop working a dozen times since. And since I finished that last sentence, three more interruptions.
I usually work at night, when the kids are asleep. Of course, that comes with its own set of problems. I love writing while listening to music, but I don’t necessarily want to subject my family to non-stop heavy metal, so I’ll usually put something on the TV. Finding the right show to watch while working is hard. You don’t want to choose something too exciting, but you don’t want to watch anything boring. Usually I’ll put on old-school wrestling matches or a sports game. Much more tolerable than children vying for my attention, anyway.
Sometimes, I’ll go out if I have a lot of work to do and need to focus. Again, the vision of the freelance writer who holes up in Starbucks for six hours doesn’t quite mesh with reality. The main reason for that is that you’re supposed to buy something if you go someplace to work. Nobody wants to spend five dollars every time they go to work, especially when the goal is to make money.
Fortunately, I’ve found a way around this. I go to my local fast food restaurant and bring in an empty cup so that it looks like I’m sticking around after polishing a healthy meal. If I’m feeling really frisky, sometimes I sneak in a free refill when nobody’s looking. (Don’t report me, freelance police!) Alas, it’s not uncommon to need some brain food, so the restaurants still get their cut of my paycheck.
Writing away from home solves many problems, but it isn’t exactly ideal. That image of an efficient writer banging away at a high-end laptop? I have a $200 Chromebook that doesn’t even get iTunes. Even Spotify only works if there’s a good Wifi connection and I don’t have a dozen Chrome tabs dedicated to research. As a result, I have to bring a separate iPod just to play music. And if that Wifi ever goes out? I’m in trouble.
In a perfect world, freelance writing would be as simple as going into that perfect little home office and writing great content while the outside world stands still. Still, I’m grateful for the opportunity I have to pursue my writing aspirations while juggling a ton of responsibility. And I’m glad to report that my clients get great work most of the time… even if navigating the endless stream of distractions and interruptions makes my job more difficult than anyone might think.
Bryan B is a freelance writer based in Long Island, NY. He may or may not have sent himself flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day.