Writer Rant: I Just Want To Be A Writer! Or, Who Do All These Hats Belong To?

Welcome to Writer Rants–where every Friday a writer just lets loose on whatever the heck is bugging them this week. Enjoy.

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I’m on my second cup of Twinnings Lady Gray when the buzzing from the other room tells me it’s 7:00AM. I’ve been sitting at my desk for two hours, some of which was spent staring down my calendar and trying to figure out how to make it all work. On the docket for today there’s a crowded email inbox to purge, a 1000-word deadline at 10:00, another at noon, an appointment with the tax preparer at 2:00 and a Skype call with a potential client at 2:30. I see the conflict too late. Will the tax preparer mind if I do the Skype call from her office while she chides me about my messy receipts? Yeah, that’s probably not going to work.

I listen as the shower turns on and off again, my husband stubs his toe on the dresser and then calls out a question about the location of his loafers. When he wanders into my office I’m in the middle of a Creative Commons search for images to accompany a blog post. None of them are just what I need so I’ll have to stick them in Photoshop for a little tweaking, Add another thing on the to-do list.

“Why are you up so early?” the man asks. I grumble that I’m writing and he responds with, “It doesn’t look like you are writing. Looks like you are taking a break.”

Contrary to popular belief, freelance writers don’t spend the entire workday with fingers on the keyboard, pumping out a steady stream of words. In fact, actual writing is just a small portion of what we do. We all wear a lot of hats.

My workspace is so crowded with proverbial hats that it’s starting to look like Duchess Kate’s closet. Over there is my marketing hat, on the hook is my graphic designer cap. Then there’s my web designer hat, the accounting one and Pharrel’s brown felt hat. Actually, scratch that last one; I got caught up on headgear for a moment. Who do all these hats belong to? I certainly didn’t sign up for all this. Did I?

Accounting

My high school math teacher, Ms. Ogden, and my tax preparer, Katie, have never met, but they agree on one thing. I have no business doing my own taxes or managing the finances for a business. But, as a freelancer there’s really no choice. At least weekly, and usually daily, I have to devote time to calculating income, tracking deductions and estimating quarterly payments.

Research

You know those targeted ads that websites show you based on your recent searches and browser history? I remember a time when mine where all for designer handbags and makeup. Now, my routine searches include alcohol and drug treatment facilities, dementia treatments, senior living accommodations and crime statistics. I see some pretty bizarre ads these days. Even when working diligently on actual freelance writing jobs from home, a large chunk of that time is spent researching. So, while it may look like I’m shopping for new clothes, let me assure you that I am actually researching up-and-coming trends for my next fashion article.

Web design and advertising

There’s a special bit of irony in the fact that I preach the importance of frequent blog content, active social media accounts and dynamic web content to clients, all while my own sites linger in half-finished states. My blog is stagnant, my Facebook account is growing mold and my website is so outdated even I question if I’m still in business. I know I need to put on my marketing, web design and social media hats on more often, but it’s hard to squeeze it all in. I’m putting that on my must-do list right now.

At the end of every long, winding workday, I love my career as a freelance writer, but it’s not what I expected. I just wanted to be a writer, but instead I got the opportunity to roll a whole bunch of difference jobs into one.

Michelle S has successfully juggled the demands of a freelance writing career for over three years. Out of all the hats she wears, her favorite is a floppy straw one that is perfect for sunny days at the beach or on a sailboat.


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