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The Wows and Woes of a Freelancer
by Lizzie R. Santos
I shouldn't be doing this. I shouldn't be writing about why I enjoy being a freelance writer because I need not convince myself. I love writing and being a freelance writer. Period. I need no rationalizations. It's in my system. It's me.
But I write this article for those who still harbor some doubts about the advantages of being a writer -- a freelancer.
To be fair (and realistic), I am also presenting some woes...
- The classic line, "You're your own boss" is still a major advantage. You determine your schedule and pace. If you want to earn more and you know you can still accommodate other deadlines, then look for additional opportunities. If you honestly feel that you're pressured, then give up some of your writing gigs. That, or adjust your lifestyle. You may be spending too little or too much time doing something else.
- You can have other jobs. Freelance writing can be your bread and butter or just a hobby that earns. Your choice!
- You can write in different mediums and different genres. If you are formally employed as a news writer for a broadsheet, all you write is news. If you're paid as a full-time technical writer, you are limited to the techie stuff. But as a freelancer, you can switch from print media to radio to cyber writing and a lot more. You can try your hand at fiction, feature articles, researching, translating.... the list goes on.
- You can hibernate for a while and completely stop writing and then just get back intro the writing groove any time the writing bug bits you once more. With a regular job, you tend to feel trapped. You are given just a few days off. Why, you can't even get sick!
- You can diversify. Aside from writing, you can try writing-related jobs every now and then. These include organizing writing workshops, editing, tutoring and a lot more.
- It is faster to earn added credentials since you're not tied to only one publishing group. In just a while, your name will be a byword in the writing/publishing world.
- Freelancing is equivalent to years and years in a writing school. Why? Because you can learn something new with every editor and/or publisher you write for. You earn and at the same time learn about the writing industry - first hand!
- You are able to monitor your writing skills. Being approved by different editors and publishers who have distinct personalities and idiosyncrasies, plus their own writing standards, gives you an assurance that you write well; that you can write for different markets. It makes you flexible too!
- You are able to improve your interpersonal skills. Being able to deal with different people is not easy. The fact that you get along well with all your editors and publishers (plus their Girl Fridays) and that you have earned their trust and respect is an assurance that you have a wonderful personality.
- You have the opportunity to widen your network. Being confined in a single office and leading a routine life is limiting. Expose yourself by freelancing!
Now, if you're having doubts about joining the freelance writing world, read this article over and over. Ask yourself: Personally, do the wows outweigh the woes?
- There is no assurance that you will always get an assignment. Some days you're earning a lot and then some days, your income is just so-so.
- You won't enjoy the fringe benefits given to fulltime employees of a publishing firm.
- You are solely accountable and responsible for whatever you write.
- You have to be your own secretary, publicist, typist, researcher, errand boy, messenger.whatever!
- Some editors and/or cashiers put freelancers (contributors) last on the list when they prepare the writers' fees.
- There is a great temptation to treat writing lightly.
- If you are just starting, you may not have the tools, equipment and supplies you need (your own PC, your own office, etc.). You'll have to save for everything you need until you earn enough to afford the perks.
- If you have no agent, you'll spend a lot of time looking for writing opportunities. That time should otherwise be spent on actual writing.
If you ask me, the answer is Definitely! Why, I just earned a few bucks writing this piece. And to think that I just put my thoughts on paper!
Okay, I'm hi-tech...I just uploaded my thoughts on the web. Better?
Copyright © 2004 Lizzie R. Santos
Lizzie Santos writes features, literary pieces, scripts and other writing projects both in English and Pilipino. She also lectures at creative writing workshops. Her first book, The Laughter of the Leaves and Other Musings, was published by Giraffe Books. She is working on her second book. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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