In which a professional writer asks, “I actually have to write during working hours? Whaaaaa?”

Writing between the hours of 9 and 5 is really difficult for me. And it’s taken me six years as a professional, full-time writer to recognize that it’s sort of a problem.

How it has always worked before is that I spent the almighty Designated Working Hours doing all of the writing tasks that are not writing: emailing, scheduling interviews, conducting interviews, editing, researching, invoicing, etc., etc. Actual writing was reserved for the couch, after hours or on the weekends. So that’s what I did.

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A Time for Big Ideas: Freelancing & the 3-day weekend

Having grown up in a small tourist town in Northern Michigan, Memorial Day weekend has always been a different experience for me and mine. Tawasians don’t leave town for three-day weekends. Not only are we already in the kind of place most of the country is escaping to, but often, we work on Memorial Day. A town can’t close down when half the state is visiting. Plus, there’s invariably some parade of indiscernible tone happening that you have to be in or organize or attend.

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Breaking Away from Ideal Worker Culture as a Freelancer

Brigid Schule’s book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time just blew my effing mind. From the fact that constant stress and overwhelm causes our brains to physically shrink (something of which I am already in constant fear) to the revelation that women have been virtually conditioned away from leisure for all of human history, it’s overflowing with information that is both so personal and logical you feel like you’ve known it all along and so revolutionary you are apt to want to change everything about the way to do everything. It’s a good book. You should read it. It contains things important for every employee, employer, woman, spouse and parent should know to be better at being any of those things.

A major takeaway for me as a freelancer, however, was the concept of the ideal worker that permeates American work culture, and the startling realization that we freelancers, who have every reason to not ascribe to it, self-impose it all the same.

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Is freelancing a real career? Here’s 1,423 square feet and a half acre of “yes.”

We are buying a house today. My freelance writer self and independent musician husband have an appointment to close at 10am, after which we will move into our adorable 1938, 4-bedroom Cape Cod with detached two-car garage and a half-acre of land.

When I quit my job, back in 2010, I was working for a board, and therefore had to go around to ten different people, all of them at least 20 years my senior, to tell them I was not only leaving my position as their director, but I was doing so to work for myself, as a writer. They were all very kind and supportive, and, I could also tell, quietly concerned. I was trading a secure, public sector job with great benefits for what appeared to be essentially a non-job – in a terrible economy. They all liked me and wanted me to succeed, but I could see that they couldn’t visualize how “freelance writer” and “success” had any potential to overlap. When my then-fiancé followed suit the next year, leaving his high school teaching job after eight years, we only seemed crazier.

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MacBooks, horror movies and the serenity to accept all of the things or whatever

Watching horror movies, like taking shots, is something I realized in my early 20s that I hated and didn’t ever have to do again if I didn’t want to. So I’m coming up blank when trying to think of the name of a movie in which the main characters are supposed to die in a massive plane explosion, but somehow get out of it, but then death chases them around and tries to reclaim them.

Now that I think about it, this may have been the very movie that made me say, “Nope. I’m not doing these anymore. Horrifying death isn’t entertaining to me,” so that’s probably why I’ve both blocked out the details and think about it fairly frequently. I bring it up now because…sigh…a death my MacBook escaped two years ago has come to caught up with it. That’s right. I just Final Destinationed my computer. (OK, I Googled it.)

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