The fickleness of freelance life…

This week is stretching before me as a long, black hole of nothingness, making me feel somewhat fed up and disillusioned. Why? (And yes I know I’m being overdramatic – but that’s how I’m feeling today. Please cut me some slack.) Because only a few weeks ago I was busy – far too busy – writing for various clients, enjoying new opportunities and so so grateful to God for allowing my career to develop in such a way. But the life of a freelancer is rather fickle and here I am with only unpaid work to do for the foreseeable future. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the chance to write for everyone that I do write for, and I know that each piece I do is helping to create my portfolio, and ‘gets my name out there’ (a very strange concept I still struggle with!). But for someone like me, who yes, loves to write, but is also doing it in order to help pay the bills, having weeks with no paid work is really frustrating. And it also immediately raises questions in my mind – ‘am I really good enough?’; ‘have people decided they don’t like my writing?’. I know, in my rational head, that it isn’t down to me when opportunities dry up – more often than not it is due to budgets or the fact that there are so many other writers out there trying to do the same thing. But in my irrational head there can be a torrent of self-doubt that threatens to flood my very soul…

I know, over and above everything, that the opportunities that have come my way have been granted by God. I also know that it is in these leaner times that I have to believe and trust that God has my back – He knows where the next paying job is coming from and He isn’t going to lead me so far just to let me fall flat on my face. I also know I’m not the only freelancer to feel like this. It goes with the territory. Just last night I was with all our neighbours for a Jubilee Street Party planning meeting and one lady was talking about how next week is pay day, just in time for the long weekend. I can’t remember the last time I was paid my wages regularly, so that I knew both the amount that was coming in every month and which day it would appear. That is one of the benefits that you give up when you become freelance. I’m not moaning about that, as I feel that freelance life is perfect for me and my family. However, it can be frustrating when you do a piece of work but then have to wait months to be paid for it. Let’s face it – some clients are really good at paying, and others aren’t. But, again, I need to trust God that He knows what money I still have owed to me – and He knows what my family needs in order to survive. I’m very much a person who likes to be in control, and also likes ‘doing’ – so that I feel I’ve contributed. So perhaps I’ve been called to this fickle freelance life because it constantly changes and, in doing so, knocks the rough edges of self-sufficiency and control freakishness off of me. I don’t like it when I don’t know where the next job will come from; I don’t like it when I don’t know if I’ll be paid for any work this month or not. And yet, I’m still very grateful to be able to do a job that I love, that I believe utilises God-given talents in me. So, I will pick myself up, speak to my soul, and get on and do every piece of work I have this week to the best of my ability…

6 thoughts on “The fickleness of freelance life…

  1. Christine says:

    Hi Claire,
    You worry about whether you are good enough – if you are writing for other people then ‘yes’ you are. Whether paid or not, people want your work. Writing for no payment is a difficult one isn’t it. I once worked for 3 years on a writing project for no money – but I was offered quite a bit of paying work because of it.
    Keep going and try not to lose heart. Look on the bright side – how many people can go into the garden on a day like today and write (either pen & paper or laptop)? 🙂

  2. clairemusters says:

    Thanks for your comment 🙂 Yes I am always very careful to weigh up whether I should do unpaid work on an individual case by case basis. Sometimes I do it because it is for a cause I want to support, while other times I can see that it raises my profile and could lead to possible paid jobs – which it has done. When I was starting out some writers advised me to never accept an unpaid piece of work – I admire those that have been able to make that work for them, but I have found a mixture of the two has been more realistic for me. As long as the paid work outweighs the unpaid – and we have enough to pay the bills – I’m happy! 😉

    Unfortunately it is my husband who has the laptop in this family – so I’m beavering away in my upstairs office. But picking up my pre-school age son soon so we’ll be out in the garden before too long! 😀

  3. scskillman says:

    You are courageous to write so honestly about the insecurities of life as a freelance. Trust in God is so important. And yet also remember to be “innocent as a dove and wise as a serpent”. You deserve to be paid and people who are behind with their payments need to know that. However, I share a lot of your feelings and thoughts on life as a writer with, in my case – as yet – minimal payment! I love writing and living as a writer, and trust that if God has opened this door for me, the financial realities will eventually work out. Thank you for your post!

  4. clairemusters says:

    Thanks – I do feel that part of what God has called me to do in every area that I serve/work is be honest, and help to bring others’ walls/masks down as a result (although that doesn’t make it easy). I totally agree with the wise as a serpent comment – having been freelance for 15 years or so I’ve had a lot of experience of chasing up payments! 😀

  5. clairemusters says:

    I don’t think you are the only one – it appears I’ve hit a nerve as I’ve had more hits on this entry than any other for a while! Hang in there – we have these weeks, but we also have some great ones full of wonderful opportunities too…

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