5 New Year Resolutions for the Aspiring Freelancer

2016-New-Years-ResolutionWith the new year, lots of folks cast their minds to a life change. For many, that change involves leaving the 9-to-5 working world and becoming a freelancer.

A while back, I was supervising my son at a birthday party for one of his elementary school classmates. The birthday boy’s father and I got to chatting about work, as dads often do in social situations, and he revealed that he was an engineer. He asked what I did, and I told him I was a freelance writer. When he probed for details, I shared my relatively flexible, work-from-home lifestyle as his eyes widened in awe.

“Oh, man! You’re living the dream!”

I demurred, as I often do when confronted with others’ disbelief, because I know in my heart that as good as freelancing sounds to people who don’t do it, it can have some pretty big ups and downs for those of us who make a living without being tethered to a single employer.

Sometimes I’m asked what the “secret” to a freelance career is. Truth: There is no secret. But there are a few commonsense steps you can take to prepare yourself if you’re seriously considering breaking free of the corporate cubical farm and going out on your own. Here, then, are my five things to do before you become a freelancer. Continue reading → 5 New Year Resolutions for the Aspiring Freelancer

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Office Cubicle By Leaving (or Planning to Leave) Yours

This is how you should be celebrating today, the 50th anniversary of what we today call the office cubicle.

I’m sure the guy who invented this now ubiquitous bit of office furniture never dreamed it would engender such deep and abiding hatred. Instead he probably thought he was doing something good for the workplace, like helping offices maximize their usable space and encouraging collaboration between co-workers.

Who knew that these humble desk/separator combos would come to be seen with same affection as the tiny pens cattle purveyors use to raise veal calves? Who would imagine that the most collaboration they would encourage would be inspiring colleagues to gang up on one of their number (the one with the untenable BO and tendency to eat microwave burritos at his desk) and stab them in the neck with a Bic pen? Continue reading → Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Office Cubicle By Leaving (or Planning to Leave) Yours

Hulk SMASH deadline!

I was in full-on magazine writer mode today. Cranked out 1,300 quality words for a freelance story with the able assistance of my neighborhood Cosi, their free wi-fi, and the 3/4 of my family who decided to go to the movies this afternoon (Monsters University, in case you’re interested – consensus from the 5-year-old, 9-year-old and 30-*cough*-year-old was “awesome”).

It’s always easy to talk about how we as writers should shoot for a certain number of words per day, but for the work-at-home writer (particularly with school out for the summer), getting any done is sometimes a challenge.

I find the biggest thing standing in my way isn’t writer’s block or something silly like that (I don’t think I’ve ever been truly blocked).

Instead it’s that lingering fear that as soon as I drop into a serious writing groove (and you other writers out there know just what I mean) where I just have to keep going, something or someone will interrupt. There will be meals to prepare, sibling battles to negotiate, some minor bit of home repair or housekeeping, oh, I don’t know … a freakin’ meteorite might decide to crash into my front yard.

(Honestly, some days it feels like that’s all that’s missing. Fate/gods/universal forces, don’t take that as an invitation, OK?)

As a result, when there’s a big deadline looming or some writing work that just has to get done, leaving the home base is often the best option for all parties involved. Let that meteorite smolder in its crater until I get home. If I don’t know it’s there, I’ll actually be able to get some stuff done.

Satellite Office

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Temperatures spiked to a summerlike 87 degrees today, so I decided to take things outside. Not to say that my job is better than yours, but there are worse ways to get stuff done.