Welcome to Writer Rants–where every Friday a writer just lets loose on whatever the heck is bugging them this week. Enjoy.
I have a lot of friends that are freelance writers. One thing we all agree on is that we don’t seem to get time away from work. There are several reasons for this. There are also several things that freelance writers can do, and should be doing, to guard their personal time.
For freelancers, it can be overwhelming to juggle everything on a daily basis. You are at home, so the lines that others draw between work and home life become very blurred, very quickly. You sit down to write and remember that you need to wash a load of laundry, so you hop up and do that. You are cooking dinner and remember that you were supposed to email a proposal, so dinner boils over while you handle that.
You work from home, so it’s easy to give into relentless demands from clients and others. Your computer is just in the next room – what’s the problem with replying to an email, dashing off a quick revision or busting out a quick article for an antsy client? However, when you do this, you set a bad precedent. Complying with unreasonable demands now will teach clients that it’s okay to ask for things that they shouldn’t – you gave in once, you’ll give in again. Before you know it, your time will no longer be yours. Your stress level will rise and your relationships with friends and family will suffer.
How to Stop the Endless Demands on Your Time
One piece of advice I always give to new (and not-so-new) freelancers is that you have got to treat this like a “real” job if you want to be successful. Make goals, put things in writing and work hard, just like you would at a corporate job with someone else in charge. This also applies to carving out time away from your desk.
If your boss at an outside job called you at all hours of the day and night, demanded work products in mere hours or hit you up on Skype before dawn on a Sunday, you would probably throw a fit (and you probably should). Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself just because you work from home and can meet the client’s needs (even if you really don’t want to). Set specific work hours. Let your clients know that you do have office hours and that you won’t be able to answer calls, emails and turn in articles or revisions outside these hours. Then, and this is most important, stick to those work hours (unless it is a real emergency).
No one is going to stick up for you, so you have to do it yourself. And don’t worry about losing the client, as long as you assert yourself professionally and respectfully. If the client can’t respect you and your time, there are other clients that will.
Maggie O is an active duty member of the United States Air Force, who attempts to keep a freelance writing career afloat in her free time. When she’s not writing or serving her country, she spends her time with her family, her dogs and her growing empire of Mazda vehicles.