Update: I'm so glad that we have some readers who are on board for a little fiction challenge Hey, all you lurkers, don't be shy! Join us! Whatever your goal: revisions, queries, WIPs, be prepared to post them every Monday. I'll do the same.
Question of the day: I've always wondered what it's like to be a freelancer - I suspect that I wouldn't have the discipline to get anything done. What's your typical day like? How do you actually get things done?
You know, my husband doesn't really understand how I do it either. He's one of those guys who needs the structure of going into an office every day - or else he'd be parked on our couch watching Food Network from dawn until dusk, with random baseball games thrown in when he's already seen the FN show. (Oh, how I haaaaaaaate baseball season. He'll watch ANY game on air EVER.)
I, on the other hand, would wither up and die if I had to go into an office every day. I did it early on in my career, post-college, and I felt the literal life being sucked from me. Which is my way of saying that freelancing is definitely not for everyone. Not only do you have to be incredibly self-motivated (the lure of the TV beckons in the background), but you have to be cool spending a lot of time by yourself. No Grey's Anatomy water-cooler discussions (though that's why I love Television Without Pity!), no grabbing lunch with your gal pal co-worker, no happy hour cocktails with your cube-mates.
So...what's my typical day like? Here's how it usually breaks down:
8:00 - Nanny arrives.
8:15 - I head out the door with our pooch, Pedro, for a romp in the park. (For him, not me.)
9:15-9:30 - Return home, chat with son, pour coffee (YES, I'M PREGNANT - I KNOW! It's only half-caffeinated, so don't send me admonishing emails. The world is dead to me without coffee.)
9:30-10:00 - Catch up on all of the websites and blogs I like to visit.
10:00 - Cereal! Yum!! (I've mentioned that before.)
10:15 - Start my work. I've found that I write my best at this point in the morning. I start every day with a "to do" list, and I love, love, love crossing things off. So by tackling the list right away, I'm ensured that I'll at least accomplish something in my day before lunch.
1:00ish - Take a break from my work - whether the work was drafting a story, interviewing experts, following up with editors, etc - and head to the gym for an hour, and run errands afterward.
2:30 - Back at my desk, where I surf around the web while eating lunch.
3:00 - Run pooch out to the dog run for his second romp of the day.
3:45 - Pick up work wherever I left off. This usually revolves around the straggling items on my to-do list. As I said, I think that I write my best earlier in the day, so this stuff might be more busy-work than real, actual writing. But if I'm coming up on a deadline, I'll write whenever I have to.
6:00 - Nanny leaves, and I make darling son dinner, most of which he then proceeds to throw to Pedro and giggle maniacally while doing so.
7:30 - Darling son conks out. (Or so I hope.)
Evening - If my husband is out, I'll head back to the computer for a little more work or deal with West Coast interviews/contacts. That's the problem with working from home - you never really get to leave the office.
So that's my typical day. The beauty of freelancing is that, quite obviously, you have the freedom to shift all of these elements as they best suit your schedule. The downside to all of this is that if you're not disciplined, you'll shift it to the point where you're entirely unproductive. Thus, the critical importance of really having a schedule and sticking to it. This is also why I really make my mornings work for me: if all crap hits the fan in the afternoon or my motivation takes a total nosedive, and I can't manage to get anything done, I've still accomplished a lot.
I imagine that these floating schedules are the reason freelance writers get a bad rap. Most people hear "freelance writer," and they raise their eyebrows, silently thinking to themselves that what this really means is a couch-loafing, pajama-wearing, unemployed, perhaps talentless, lazy ass, and to be fair, I'm sure that there are plenty of them out there. I can't tell you how many times people have asked what I do, and upon hearing that I'm a writer, say, "oh, whom do you write for," never expecting that I've actually been published or, gasp, really truly earn a good living at this. Which both pisses me off and brings me great vindictive joy.
Anyway, the point of this post wasn't for me to ramble on about other peoples' judgments, rather just to say that freelancing requires a lot of discipline - in some ways, it might be harder than going into an office because you don't have a boss breathing down your neck. You're your own boss, and if you screw up, fail or just end up with your ass on the couch the entire day, you can point the finger only at yourself.
Anyone else have good discipline or scheduling tips? Or just want to rant about the labels (and stereotypes) that go along with being a writer?