You Might Be a Freelance Writer if...
There are tons of stereotypes about writers, but all of them are completely wrong. Most of us don't hang around in cafes wearing berets and sipping $12 coffees, and you won't find many writers who pound out novels on old-fashioned typewriters and spend all day crying about how they'll never get published.
Freelance writers do share some common traits, though. I can't speak for every writer, so I'm not trying to lump all freelancers into a single article. I've just noticed that nearly every writer I know, including myself, does at least half of the things listed in this post.
Here are 11 signs you might be a freelance writer, whether you're a work-at-home mom who spends the day fighting for keywords at your favorite content mill or a self-published author who creates eBooks for Amazon.
You Reward Yourself With Sleep
Sleep is a special privilege commonly associated with people who get steady paychecks and work normal schedules. When you're a freelancer, you can't always sleep when you want. You will bribe yourself with naps throughout the day (and by "day", I mean anytime during a 24-hour period). If you screw up and sleep longer than you meant to, you'll have to forfeit some of your 8 hours of nighttime shuteye to catch up on work.
But wait...don't freelancers set their own schedules? (I'm sure at least one non-freelancing reader is wondering this right now)
Well, yes and no. Let's pretend you have 3 main clients:
Client #1 is a content mill that only loads work at 4 a.m.
Client #2 is a content mill that only loads work at midnight.
Client #3 is a company you found on Craigslist that pays big bucks for easy work but sucks at organization and patience. This client sends work at random times and expects a super-fast turnaround.
Rent is due in a week, and you blew your savings when you replaced some expensive part that you can't even remember the name of on your crappy car earlier this month.
Client #1 and Client #2 pay via PayPal as soon your work is reviewed, which could be in an hour or a month. Client #3 pays via check on the 1st, and that ship has already sailed for this month.
In an effort to earn rent money on time, do you...
A) Focus solely on Client #1
B) Focus solely on Client #2
C) Start mentally preparing yourself for when your landlord asks where rent is and you don't have it, then panic so much about paying late that you completely give up on working for the week
D) Do some work for Client #1 and Client #2 at all hours of the day/night because that's your best chance of getting paid in time to give your landlord his rent money
If you chose C or D, then you're probably a freelancer. Most freelancers know not to put all their eggs in one basket, so they wouldn't pick A or B.
You Bribe Yourself With Netflix, Facebook, or Candy Crush
Naps are an excellent bribery tool for freelance writers, but they aren't the only reward we use. Raise your hand if you've ever said anything similar to these statements:
I can watch season 3 of Orange is the New Black after I write 3 more blogs.
Only 737 more words until I can play Candy Crush or Pet Rescue Saga.
Just 30 more minutes of writing boring articles about air conditioning repair until my next Facebook break.
If I finish my work before dinner, I can watch TV for the rest of the night.
No matter how much you love being a writer, there will be days when you suffer from writer's block or find that writing just completely bores you. Facebook breaks and naps help you survive.
Oh, and baths. Sometimes you'll take 3 baths in one day. If you haven't had a day like that yet, just wait. It's coming.
You Can't Remember What Meal You're Eating
When you wake up and head straight for your laptop, it's easy to forget to do basic tasks like get dressed and eat food. Before you know it, 10 hours have gone by and all you've consumed are 5 cups of coffee and a random piece of candy you found in your desk drawer.
Or maybe you eat all day long, but you're not quite sure what meal you're eating. Is coffee a meal? Is pizza a breakfast food? Is breakfast still breakfast if you eat it 5 times in one day? Do potato chips count as dinner?
These are all important questions that plague freelance writers around the world.
You Turn in Work at the Last Possible Minute
Oh, this article is due in 47 minutes and 13 seconds? Time to check Facebook, make yourself a cup of coffee, watch a cat video or five, and beat level 97 in Candy Crush.
Wait, what's your neighbor doing? Is he seriously wearing shorts and a tank top when it's like 3 degrees out? Hmmm, let's Google how long it takes to get hypothermia.
WebMD says that he's definitely at risk. Speaking of being at risk, is that spot on your back cancerous? Is sugar really bad for your teeth? Why do you always get dizzy before bedtime?
Yikes. This article is now due in 11 minutes and 7 seconds, but no worries -- you've got everything under control.
Are you procrastinating instead of writing right now? That's what I figured. Here's an awesome video.
You Hate Telling People What You Do
People constantly ask writers what they do for a living. Some people can't grasp the fact that writing is an actual career, while other people assume you're unemployed since you're always wearing pajama pants and sitting in front of the computer.
When you tell someone you're a writer, they'll typically respond with one of these comments:
Oh, I love writing! I keep a journal and have a notebook filled with poems from high school.
Yeah, but what do you do for a living?
I've always wanted to become a writer. How do I get started?
I got an "A" in English. I think I can do what you do.
It's great that your husband gives you the freedom to pursue your hobby.
I wish I could stay home with my kids all day.
Must be nice to just work whenever you feel like it.
Have you thought about getting a real job?
Then why'd you go to college and get a degree in nursing (or whatever you have a degree in)?
How much do you make?
Great! Can you edit my essay/resume/business report? (for free, of course)
In an effort to avoid hearing these statements, you may start telling people you are a business consultant, entrepreneur, or stay-at-home mom instead of saying you're a writer. Sometimes it's just easier that way.
You Live in Yoga Pants
Office jobs require real clothes. Freelance writing doesn't require any clothes (well, unless you have children or roommates who would prefer to see you dressed).
Yoga pants are perfect for writers. They're comfortable, and they're typically black. That means nobody will notice if you spill coffee or wipe your grubby hands on them after you devour a bag of chips at your desk.
Yoga pants can also pass for real clothes if you have to go grocery shopping, attend a parent-teacher conference, or visit your doctor. Sometimes sweat pants work, too, but they aren't quite as fancy.
Oxford Comma: Yay or Nay?
You Have a Strong Opinion About the Oxford Comma
Some clients love the Oxford comma and insist that you use it. Others hate it and claim it confuses readers or detracts from the main idea of a post.
Freelance writers know what an Oxford comma is, and they know exactly how they feel about using one. I personally love serial commas, and I think about all those pro-comma memes floating around the Internet every time I see an article that lacks Oxford commas.
You Procrastinate by Cleaning
You have a big project due tonight, but you haven't started working on it yet. You had every intention of starting on it this morning, but then you realized just how dirty your kitchen was. And your living room. And your bedroom.
And wow...when was the last time you emptied out every single drawer in your room and wiped it down with cleaning spray? And wouldn't your closet look better if it was color coded and organized by season?
Speaking of seasons, you should probably put all your off-season clothes in a storage container. Wait, cancel that plan. You don't have any empty storage containers, and you can't go buy any because you haven't showered in 3 days. You also can't afford gas for your vehicle unless you hurry up and finish your project.
Your House Has Ever Looked Like This
Cable TV and Netflix make excellent babysitters if you have to work during normal business hours. Unfortunately, non-human babysitters don't bother to stop your toddlers from taking every freaking toy and book they own and tossing them on the floor.
But hey, at least you met your deadline, right?
You Pray You're Never a Suspect for a Crime
Freelance writers research some weird stuff, especially if they write articles on legal or medical topics. There's a good chance that you know how to defend yourself in the courtroom if you're ever accused of murder, drug abuse, or destruction of property. You may also know how to live off the land and hoard a collection of weapons if all the big conspiracy theories about the government end up being true.
When you aren't busy writing, your curious side may convince you that it's a good idea to explore the dark Web. It's not. It's never a good idea. I mean, not that I would know or anything. :::looks away:::
You Can't Imagine Having Another Career
You may have been a nurse or a teacher or a factory worker prior to becoming a freelance writer, but you can't imagine yourself ever going back to that field. Or any other brick-and-mortar job.
Writing is stressful and annoying at times, but being a writer is just who you are. Don't attempt to fool yourself by searching job listings on Monster while you're waiting on article reviews or swearing that you're going to get an office job if your toddler spills one more juice box on your keyboard.