So you think you can write well, huh? And you think that writing is a great way to spend your time. Do your job at home! Get well-known! Go to strange places! Meet people who are interesting! You can make good art and get paid for it.
Most people’s ideas about what it’s like to be a freelance writer come from the authors who are interviewed on Oprah. Or even worse from the writers whose lives are shown in movies and on TV.
There is something wrong with this information source. One of my friends works as an animator for a living. Just watching cartoons with her is a great way to learn something. She spends a lot of time explaining the jokes that the animators put in the cartoons that only insiders would get. Who do you think writes the scripts for all those movies and TV shows? Do you still think they show the real thing?
Because of this, there are a lot of false ideas about what it’s like to be a freelance writer. Here are seven examples.
1. The places where freelance writers work are interesting.
Sorry, I work from home or in the office of a client. Some of the time, I can use my office. But only if my wife, who is an artist, lets me. Interesting? Hey, I painted the wall this weekend, so I don’t have to look at beige anymore! And now I have a window! I might still be down there.
2. Freelance writers decide when they want to work.
Have you ever had an important deadline that you couldn’t miss? Or 40 hours of work spread over two days? Welcome to the life of a freelancer!
3. Freelance writers can take time off whenever they want.
What is a break? Oh, you mean unemployment. I know that, yes. That’s when I’m busy going from place to place trying to get business.’ Nuff said?
Freelance writers make a lot of money.
A creative person’s average salary is well below the poverty line. Some people can, indeed, make a lot of money. Yes, most people can make a decent living. But making a lot of money from writing. Nope.
5. Writing on your own is creative.
Most freelancers’ expense forms are the most creative thing they write. I’m joking! I’m joking! Sheesh. In reality, most freelance writing is done to specifications. Depending on the niche, the specs may not give you much room to be creative.
6. People know freelance writers.
I have a friend. She is a famous writer who has written about two dozen best sellers. Her favorite thing to do is walk around the city streets and stare at things. I don’t think anyone except her friends has ever recognized her. Want to make a famous writer feel bad? At a fan convention, call them by their name. Do it at a restaurant or book store outside the convention for the best effect. Just make sure to let EMS know in advance.
7. The only thing freelance writers do is write.
Freelancing is a way to make money. Let me say that again. Freelancing is a way to make money. It doesn’t matter if you do writing, art, computer programming, or even picking up trash as a freelancer. And the paperwork that businesses make is what keeps them going. And the little extra jobs. You can be sure that for every hour you spend writing, you will spend a half hour running your business. Accounting and marketing. Having to answer to the government. Purchasing. Shipping. It all takes time. You won’t have time to write.