I’ve been fascinated by reading and writing ever since early childhood. I could do both long before I started school and read voraciously throughout my years in education, as well as writing numerous stories about adventures that my friends and I went on.
Fast-forward a couple of decades, and I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last six years working as a freelance writer. It hasn’t always been easy (in that time I’ve written several thousand words about data storage facilities and an entire website about underwear), but it is a fulfilling career that allows me to do what I love – write.
In case you’re considering a career as a freelance writer, here’s a realistic snapshot of a typical day.
My writing workload today includes two press releases and two articles. The press releases are for a property public relations firm, so once I’ve written them and the companies that commissioned them have approved them, I’ll be pitching them out to various national and international publications.
From a writing perspective, this is fun, as I not only get to craft the press releases, I also get to write pitches for each of them. This means writing in two very different styles, yet all with the same goal in mind – achieving media coverage.
The two articles that I have to write add plenty of variety to my day. One is for Tomedes, a translation agency that I’ve been writing for since almost the start of my freelance career. It will require some research on translation industry trends and latest news before writing, which I always enjoy, as it means an opportunity to learn something new.
The other article on my list to write is this post!
I also have to edit two articles written by someone else, as well as sourcing various images to accompany the press releases and the translation agency article. Then there’s the usual influx of emails (around 75-100 per day), Skype messages and Slack messages to deal with.
All four pieces of writing need completing today, but it’s up to me in which order I tackle them. This post is the one that I’ve been looking forward to writing most, so this is where I’ve begun. This approach depends entirely on my mood on the day.
Sometimes, I’ll start with the task I’m least looking forward to, to tick it off the list. On other days, I’ll fill the morning and early afternoon with the best jobs, so that I’m in a delightful mood and ready to tackle the less good ones towards the end of the day!
Once I start writing an article, I try to avoid distractions and focus on the material at hand, so that the writing flows beautifully from start to finish. At least, that’s the theory. It rarely pans out that way in reality.
While writing just this paragraph, for example, I’ve received three messages from a client who can be hard to get hold of – so while she’s online, I need to catch her while I can!
Thankfully, the interruptions to workflow are something that I have come to expect after six years of writing for a living, and they don’t tend to phase me.
The other part of my working day is allocated to the admin associated with working as a freelance writer. Today that means suggesting titles and topic summaries for a handful of guest posts for one client.
Additionally, it requires updating a few Trello cards, preparing a few social media posts, updating my records of what has been written for each client (which are invaluable when it comes to billing time at the end of the month!) and uploading an article to a website.
These admin bits can be surprisingly time-consuming, and most of them aren’t things that I get paid to do. That means that it’s crucial for me to whizz through them as quickly as possible, as they’re detracting from the time I have available to do the thing that pays the bills – writing!
As I work freelance, my day can be structured however I like. Generally, the mornings will see me making a fresh fruit smoothie whenever I feel so inclined. Lunchtime is usually a quick affair, eaten at my desk while still tapping away on my Mac.
I also try to fit in a couple of random tasks that give me a break from the screen and that it makes sense to do while the children aren’t under my feet. As it’s unusually warm and sunny here today, I spent an hour weeding the garden, enjoying the fresh air while also letting the ideas for today’s articles percolate inside my brain.
That’s another thing to bear in mind about working as a freelance writer – you rarely entirely switch off. At least, I don’t! There’s always an article ticking over in the back of my mind, or an idea for a new pitch, to make the best use of a press release that I’ve already written.
This lack of division between work time and leisure time doesn’t sit well with everyone, but for me, it works. I think about writing when I’m not actively doing it, as it’s what I want to do.
After 15 years or so of working in offices, albeit for some splendid charities that I was proud to work for, the freedom of working as a freelance writer is terrific.
Even after six years – and even on invoicing day, which is probably my least favorite day of the month! – I feel incredibly lucky to be working as a writer to make my living.