On Being Unsupervised and Freelancing
Some people seem to think a man loses his mind when he gets married. I say this because you can hear them talking about how an unsupervised husband is a dangerous thing, as if we become more likely to do something that will get us into trouble just because our wives are not around.
The “dangerous” thing about me being unsupervised is not that I will get into trouble. After all, I’m a notary and a writer, so how much trouble can I get into?
No, the danger is that I will procrastinate, waste time online or watching tv, or otherwise do nothing worthwhile as the hours tick away. In other words, revert to satisfied monkey instead of goal-seeking human.
Being a freelancer can make it harder to stay on the path toward a better life, because I have to be my own boss. Even though I had some less-than-great bosses during the years when I was an employee, they all provided some structure and goals for each day, as well as handling (or having others handle) a lot of work that doesn’t directly produce income but is necessary anyway, such as bookkeeping and marketing.
As a freelancer, I am responsible for doing all of those things myself and have had to learn how to do them from scratch. I just wish that I had read some books about freelancing before I got into doing it, as The Freelancer’s Survival Guide and The Freelancer’s Bible would have saved me years of muddling through if I had read them when I started.
Now that I’ve actually written my own first book, I have an even better reason to supervise myself — no one else will do the remaining steps necessary to turn my first draft into a published book. And no one else will write the other books I have planned.
In Bait and Switch, Barbara Enhrenreich wrote about the constant pressure on the unemployed to look for work, to treat the job search as if it were a full-time job itself, and to not allow more than a day or two after the end of one job before you take up the reins of this new pursuit. She made the point that this throws away one of the blessings of being unemployed, namely, having time to reconnect with family, community, and what matters most to you. The relentless pursuit of a job and the time consumed by the job and the commute to and from it and preparations for it and unwinding from it — these eat up our entire lives if we let them.
As a freelancer, I’ve stepped off that hamster wheel. I am the one person who decides when and how hard and for what portion of the day I will actually work. So, I refuse to feel bad about not working the 12 hour days that many books state you MUST do if you’re going to be successful. I don’t define success on the basis of income. Sure, income is required and I do want more of it, but having a life is about much more than that.
We are not here just to pay bills and die. Each of us have any number of purposes for our existence and we get to find or create what those are. We do that with our choices. The biggest choice we make is how we spend our time each day. I’m choosing to give myself some goofing off time most days and I hope you give yourself the same present.
Merry Christmas ! Happy Holidays!