This beginning: the life of a freelancer

| 24 Comments

After this ending, of course, came this beginning.

This beginning, set in my bright and sunny office on a Monday that stretched long and luxuriously in front of me, a beautiful expansive landscape with which to write and breathe and think and plan and, finally, do this thing.

desk and office

I wish I could say that I ran eagerly into that big expanse and starting doing big, expanse-worthy things, really, fully, completely taking advantage of every blessed second and drop of energy that came with this new beginning.

But I didn’t.

I spent a good part of the morning drifting a bit. Wandering. Waiting for someone to tell me what to do so I could hop to and start doing. The to do items I had planned out kept pinging at me and I should have treated them like my boss, standing over my shoulder and nudging me back to work. And yet, none of them seemed right. None of those things to do seemed like the thing I should do with this time.

I wandered until just after lunch when I finally changed location. I found my focus when I gave up worrying about the worth of the thing I had chosen to focus on. Instead, I just felt good that I had focused. I had accomplished.

[Tweet “Stepping into the life of a freelancer is hard. “]It’s a hustle and I am not, by nature, a hustler. It’s taking a big leap and then preparing for the next one before you’re even safely on the ground. I love leaping but I also like my recovery time. I like the moment to sit, and catch my breath, and pause long enough to let the shaking stop. The shaking that comes every time I bend my knees and prepare to launch because that is how my body reacts to the risk and processes the fear. Through shaking.

spiderweb climbing

I’ve been shaking for two weeks now and I can’t tell if it’s from all of the leaping or if I’m drinking too much coffee but I can’t seem to stop shaking. With fingers vibrating all over my keyboard, I’m typing and I’m thinking and I’m sending my words out into the ether and hoping that the ether sends a little something back.

And in between the moments of focus, I’m still wondering if I’m doing the right thing. In the small sense, I wonder this. Is this pitch the place I should spend my time today? Are these next hours in front of me the ones to spend on my book? When do I schedule in ‘grow my social media platforms’ and what are the tasks associated with that?

And in the very big sense, I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. Is this for me? Am I cut out for this? Am I going somewhere or will I look back a year from now and think myself such a fool for leaping to begin with?

And when the day is done, I feel a little strange. What have I accomplished today? What can I point to and say, yes, I did that? Did I move today, did I move forward? Am I any further today than I was yesterday? [Tweet “I measure myself against an imaginary yard stick that doesn’t stay still.”]

And it’s hard.

I take a deep breath and I give up the worrying. And I focus. And I accomplish. And it’s been a good beginning. Auspiciously speaking I couldn’t have asked for more. And I’ve continued to open up and show up and I think that maybe that’s all I should expect right now. And all I should strive for.

And then I take another deep breath and I leap and I do the thing that scares me. And then I do it again. And I’m feeling kind of nauseated by it all and I wonder if being a freelancer isn’t just completely unhealthy with all the shaking and the nausea. And the reaching and the climbing and the soaring to only then fall a bit and wait and stumble. And the dizziness from the spinning and the whirling in excitement and achievement. It’s like an amusement park ride gone mad.

And it’s only just the beginning.

24 Comments

  1. I so admire you for diving into this completely. I would love to be a true freelance writer, but don’t really know how to get there. I am taking teeny, tiny baby steps and getting nowhere fast. Partly, it is because I am not fully committed, as you are and I can’t find the time I need to devote to it fully. Love following your journey, though. You are a wonderful writer and I know you will do well!
    Lisa @ The Golden Spoons recently posted..Beauty in the BrokenMy Profile

  2. I love love love that you are diving into this. It is scary (and omg nauseating too!). I think that the hardest part for me so far has been not having a roadmap set out for me and trying to figure it all out. Like you said, should I be spending my time here or should I be spending my time over there. And that waiting for responses from the ether! But what I’ve learned so far in my very very limited experience is that we can only keep taking steps forward. And that’s what counts.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..38 Lessons in 38 YearsMy Profile

  3. Yes, yes, YES…to everything you just said. I need room for that empty space in my life. I guess that is my introvert side calling me to breathe and regroup. But I know to do all that I am doing, I have to be intentional and purposeful with my time. I’ve also committed to a book….and my blog…and that comes with that. It’s a lot. But I am leaping. Great things are ahead for us when we leap. It’s wonderful to meet you, Tricia.
    Topaz @ The Art of a Beautiful Life recently posted..Schedule Social Media in Only an Hour a WeekMy Profile

  4. I have had so many of these feelings in the past about writing and doing this full-time. But in the end, I keep coming back to this myself and can’t help myself, I suppose. Yay for you deciding this too now 🙂
    Janine Huldie recently posted..Bugs Are Not For Lily…My Profile

    • Thank you! I’ve done it part time for so long and kept dreaming of doing it full time so I’m glad to finally be doing it. Even when it’s rough!

  5. 1. The wandering is a part of the writing that can’t be separated. It’s part of the process. Your spot looks like one conducive to great writing. Superb writing, if you have snacks around on those shelves.

    2. You know what non-hustlers do when they leap? They take notes. They remember where the leaps did more and didn’t. They mitigate the riskiness with attention to detail and trusting their instincts. You have those traits.

    3. The danger in that is we want all progress to show in metrics. It often doesn’t. Keep the wandering mind in this case. You can work all day and have little tangible progress, but the growth you’ve made will show up tomorrow.

    Good luck! You’ve got this.
    Eli@coachdaddy recently posted..My 3 Favorite Toys as a KidMy Profile

    • Oh yes yes yes. The wandering is so part of it. I spent a morning driving around least week, kinda aimlessly and feeling like I was wasting time. But came out of it with a good idea so it really all was worth it.

  6. I’ve been shaking myself lately. And the nausea and dizziness and shaking – it comes and goes for me, but mostly goes.
    You really do find your groove, I guess. I have doubted myself 17,000 times since last fall when I opened the doors on professional photography. And still I’m here. I also am a writer too, just to add extra shakes and nausea. (I have some right now!)
    Tamara recently posted..Are We For Real?My Profile

    • Ahh the shaking and nausea! It’s been a nice long weekend of not feeling sick all the time. But back to the dizziness tomorrow!

  7. I’m right there with you. I took the plunge into full-time freelance writing back in February, and I’ve already had so many ups and downs since then. Days where I’m so productive I can hardly believe it, followed by days I can’t seem to type a single sentence. Major highs and major lows. All these months later I’m still finding my groove—my ideal working times, locations, projects, etc. I’m learning valuable lessons with each up and down.
    Katie @ Pick Any Two recently posted..I Won’t Stop Thinking About the Toddler in Georgia Who Died This Month (And I Hope You Won’t Either)My Profile

    • It is all learning. And learning I’m glad to do, in a way. I know myself so much better now. But still so hard.

  8. “I am not alone.”
    The words on repeat as I read your wonderful post.
    I made the decision this year to go out on my own and get my certification to practice as a Life Coach. I worked as an in house coach for 3 years and have struggled with setting forth outside corporatedom.
    I committed to the study and loved it, now it is time to hustle and I am flipping and flopping around some days when my time is best spent attracting new clients. My momentum is slowly building, maybe I expected too much too soon.
    Karen Main recently posted..How do you get it all done?My Profile

    • Oh you are definitely not alone! I am flip flopping too. Spending lots of time on things and not always on the things that will move me forward. And yes to maybe expecting too much too soon. But keep building that momentum. I know this will happen for us both!

  9. I feel your pain. I’ve been self-employed and focused on my writing since 2011. I’m not sure that shaking ever goes away. I do have a big, regular client, which helps. But there’s always the unknown. And when it’s all up to you, it’s hard not to question yourself. But all you can do is trust your gut. I’m sure you’ll be great!
    another jennifer recently posted..Choosing HappinessMy Profile

    • Thank you! Yes so easy to question everything. But I love hearing from people who are making it work and have been for years. You are an inspiration!

  10. Ahhh, yes. I so get this. The hustle. It really is a hustle. I started turning away from writing for free to freelancing (funny word!) about a year ago. One of the first things I felt I needed to do (though as a blogger it was hard) was to stop submitting to Huff. I know that’s not a popular opinion. . . but it is hard to argue to ourselves and to editors that our words are worth a fee when we and so many others are willing to give them to other editors for nothing. Such a hard issue because in the blogging world, Huff is a big one. But the more I get to know other writers, they don’t have the highest opinion of it there. It’s hard to get used to waiting so long to hear back from editors and waiting even longer for work to appear. It’s different than blogging! I’ve had some good luck getting some regular writing gigs. The pay is not much, but it’s well more than zero. So that’s a start! 😉
    Nina recently posted..How We Celebrate The Fourth of JulyMy Profile

    • I’m starting to turn that corner to only write for places that pay. Which is a way harder corner to turn than it should be! A regular writing gig is my dream right now!

  11. {Melinda} Oh, I definitely get it! Writing takes so much discipline. You don’t see immediate return on investment (usually). Some people don’t consider it a “real” job. And you end up spending so much time on social media and other things to help people actually FIND your writing that you never have time to actually, you know, WRITE! I wish I could say it gets easier, but it doesn’t. But I have gotten better at making writing a priority and sitting and writing even when I’m not inspired or don’t feel like it. You have a beautiful writing style … keep at it! Keep doing the thing that scares you! 🙂
    Mothering From Scratch recently posted..teaching kids faith: focus on relationship over rulesMy Profile

  12. the beginning is haaaaard. you will (maybe) be doing it a while and still wonder if this is the right decision. and one day, an opportunity comes that will keep you moving towards the next opportunity. a writer, like Husband and I say, is impossibly hard. there is no logical go to school, study writing, be a writer path. it is a path etched out by soul and followed with heart. enjoy the road, bumps and all. (came to you via SITS)
    Jen recently posted..My World Cup Runeth Over: Take Aways from World Cup 2014My Profile

    • I love that – a path etched out by the soul and followed with the heart. While I do wish a logical path was there, I love the way you phrased it!

  13. Oh, I can relate… Recently, I left my job as a magazine editor of a small, local parenting magazine for many reasons, and one was to become a freelance writer, but I’m finding it hard to get started and, like you, I’m not a go-getter in the true sense of the word. I’m intimidated by all the other freelancers who are more successful or a better huckster or have more motivation. Sometimes, I wish someone would assign me a topic or snatch me up for a job! But we both have to keep going and strive to make our passion more than fantasy. I worry about competition, however, being a voracious reader, I think there’s always room for one more writer — I love to read as well as write, so the more the merrier. Keep it going! We all have to find our own groove. Here’s to you for trying! 🙂

  14. I am tip toeing toward this as well, but thought I was doing it all wrong. Reading your post and comments, I see I am not alone!

    I’ve come to realize I am a terrible boss. I’m not really sure what to do about that part, especially since I, too, am not a hustler by nature.

    Thanks for writing this. (Found you through SITS.)
    Candy recently posted..The Secret to Wearing Boots with ShortsMy Profile

  15. I’ve been freelancing for years but I do mostly writing for educational publishers and editing children’s books. I love the editing but the writing, at least for the education market, is mostly for the paycheck. I’d love to get into freelance writing in the parenting niche but I have to devote the time to dive into it, and I haven’t been able to find that chunk of time yet. The most important lesson I’ve learned over the years (and I’m still learning it) is to be intentional with my time. I’m someone who can say, “I’m just going to take a 10 min. break to catch up on blogs, Twitter, IG, etc.” and then I fall down the rabbit hole. I love that you’re following your heart on this. Keep going….

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