by Kristine Coblitz
When I made the move from full-time office employee to home-based freelance writer a few months ago, I thought the transition would be easy. I’d jump out of bed every morning and work in my pajamas, sipping cups of herbal tea while the words flowed from my fingertips onto the keyboard. Daydreams of completed manuscripts danced in my head.
This was going to be great, I thought. No more 50-minute commutes in rush-hour traffic. No more sitting at a desk in a caged office counting the hours until quitting time. No more meetings about profits, sales goals, or teamwork. I became a corporate dropout and was damn proud of it. I still feel that way.
When reality set in, I learned that it takes a lot of discipline to be a home-based freelance writer and that there are all sorts of distractions (such as The Food Network and dirty laundry) available to pull me away from the computer.
Nancy Martin talked about “bum glue” in her post a few days ago, and Stephen King, in a recent article, said that the writing life consists of “basically sitting on your ass” and that the life of a writer is “about as interesting as watching paint dry.” This is especially true when editing articles about hydraulics and manufacturing equipment, which is how I spend half of my day. The other half is spent working on my fiction writing.
Making it as a freelance writer means dragging yourself out of bed when you want to sleep in, getting dressed when you want to stay in your pajamas for days on end, and planting yourself at the computer until you reach your page quota or finish the work needed to meet your deadline. It also means getting out in the world among other humans every once in while so you don’t become a hermit. The latter has been particularly important for me.
For a freelance writer, time is money. If I don’t work, I don’t bring in money to help pay the mortgage. I no longer have the luxury of a steady paycheck, and I’ve had to sacrifice a lot financially to make this move happen. But believe me when I tell you that it’s all been worth it, and those “necessities” I thought I couldn’t live without suddenly weren’t as important anymore.
So it’s not all bad. I count my blessings every day. My corner office with a view is now a spare bedroom I share with the dog and his toys. I can look out my window to watch the activity on my street in suburbia. When I get stressed out or need a change of scenery, I can play with my dog or take a brief walk. But I also have to fight the temptation to take those daily mid-afternoon naps (nobody would know...).
Do I miss the corporate world? Nope. Do I have more appreciation for full-time writers than I did before? You bet. I confess that some days I do work in my pajamas, but I always get dressed before making the trek outside to get the mail. I’ve got my standards, after all.