This post is a brief overview of what the typical day in the life of a freelance writer looks like.
07:00 – The alarm sounds. Turning it off instinctively you take a deep breath, trying to get some oxygen to your brain. You roll reluctantly out of bed. Another day to live the dream – but right now you’d rather go back to sleep.
08:30 – Breakfast. Check. Coffee. Check. You open your laptop to meet the barrage of emails that have come in overnight. Clients and prospective clients, rejection letters and even a PayPal cheque. It’s all here.
09:00 – All emails are sent, including another dozen or so new pitches. Rule number 1 of a freelance writing career, never stop selling yourself. You hand write a to do list. For whatever reason, hand writing seems to hold you more accountable. You set objectives and time lines then you’re off.
12:00 – Off to a solid start. 6 articles down and it’s barely midday. You stop for a bite to eat and then plow on.
What comes next is the ever present mosquito that everyone deals with, but freelance writers know all to well. Steven Pressfield, in his book The War of Art, calls this resistance. Resistance is all the little excuses that pop into our head and keep us from acting out our intentions. Pressfield puts it far more poignantly.
The problem with resistance is that it is cunning. Creeping in disguised as real life issues, it will try anything to knock you from that path towards to your goal. To defeat it requires a Buddhist like mindfulness in which you catch it, crumple it up in a ball and throw it in the trash.
13:00 – You’re starting to tire and that’s when resistance peeks its ugly head round the corner. You make a pot of coffee and sit back down to try and push through the next three articles you’ve set for yourself. About half way through the first one you pause for a second, stand up and stretch your back.
“I’ve done alright for myself today, maybe I’ll take a break for an hour.” Resistance.
No don’t listen, you’ve only got a couple more to finish.
“Yeah but come on, you’re tired now, you’ll do better work after a break.” Resistance.
I mean – yeah maybe, but I said I’d get everything done by 4 o’clock.
“Isn’t that why you became a freelance writer anyway, so you could work on your own terms?” RESISTANCE.
Taking a deep breath you palm all these excuses to the side. You sit back down and throw yourself back into the work. That was close. All of this has happened in the space of about 20 seconds but easily could have meant the difference between a productive and an unfinished days work.
15:30 – You’re in the thick of it now. 5000 words into the day but you wouldn’t even notice. You’ve lost track of time and am totally engaged now. You’re in the zone. This is what positive psychologists call ‘flow state’ and is the smoothest part of your day. You’re round the bend now and hitting the home stretch. This is why you write.
16:00 – Last article written. Last email sent. You close your laptop with a sigh, but as you look out the window at the beautiful Ban Saray beach (Thailand), it turns to a smile. Not the easiest day at the office but not the hardest either. That’s the price you pay for autonomy. You might even do some extra work later….if you feel like it.