Writer Rant: I’m a Writer — Not an Accountant
Welcome to Writer Rants–where every Friday a writer just lets loose on whatever the heck is bugging them this week. Enjoy.
Do you remember those mystical, magical things called paychecks? I certainly do. Every week on exactly the same day, money magically appeared in my bank account. I always knew how much the amount would be and could almost set my watch by the precise moment it appeared. To make things even better, my taxes were already taken out and stashed away somewhere, and some unseen finance person tracked all of my income for me and paid my taxes to Uncle Sam so that all I needed at tax time was that last pay stub and a 1040-EZ form.
When I became a full-time freelance writer, the sheer amount of bookkeeping involved had me longing for the good old days. The first thing I had to figure out was how to track all of the work I completed from the time I submitted it until it made its way through the process where it was accepted, authorized for payment and actually paid out. Since today’s freelance writers are all about having many eggs in many baskets and all of the content companies pay on different schedules, this became almost a full-time job. Private clients add a whole other layer of complexity to the mix, and chasing down the slow payers almost becomes a diversion from the bookkeeping monotony.
I used to look forward to the arrival of spring, as it meant warmer weather and a nice fat tax refund check. Now that I’m a freelance writer, it means tracking down all of my 1099s, diving back into the books and paying way too much money to have someone else sort it all out — all the while keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t actually owe any taxes. Again.
When I decided to enter world of freelance writing, I had visions of all kinds of clients vying for my time and me just kicking back and picking and choosing clients based on price, subject matter and the type of work they offered. Instead, I now find myself choosing work based on when it pays and very little else. No matter how much I try, I can’t get used to the fact that instead of one lump sum every week, my pay comes in dribs and drabs thanks to all of the different pay schedules.
Every month without fail I vow to put a little bit away so that I’ll eventually get to the point where I only worry about how much money I earn each month and am not so worried about how much money is going into PayPal today. It hasn’t happened yet. But it will. There’s always next month.
Hannah W is a part-time freelance writer and an unwilling part-time bookkeeper who is determined to get to a better financial place.