A little over a year ago the job I had for a real estate company working as an Administrative Specialist was eliminated. I had only been on that job for a year. At 38 I was sick and tired of working for other people, because it seemed like whenever I would find a job and or company I really liked, something would happen, the company would move too far away for me to get to without a car, or my position would be eliminated, or if it was a temporary position (I worked as temp for several years) they’d hire someone else. The last was rarely a surprise, I was well known and liked at my agency and in order for a company to keep me they would have had to pay out the big bucks. Still it was getting old, very old.
By October 2006 I was totally burned out. The Administrative Specialist position that was supposed to have been my dream job actually ended up being one of the worst jobs I’d ever had. Then my husband got a job in another city and I ended up having to move too. Talk about emotional overload.
Two months later I was living in a new city, my husband was working at a new job, and I didn’t even want to think about going out to look for work. I did it anyway, but just couldn’t find what I was looking for. The temporary agencies weren’t calling, and the bills were piling up. I had toyed with the idea of turning my writing into more than just a sideline for a while. I love to write, and already had one book published. Still I knew that novels weren’t going to pay the bills, at least not until a larger publisher picked me up, and maybe not even then. I had to figure something else out. That was when I discovered web content writing. Not long after that I found Associated Content, and another place and decided to write for both of them. It wasn’t long before I saw that I was making far more per article with Associated Content than I ever would for the second place, not that they weren’t great, they were, but they just couldn’t afford to pay enough to keep me in anything but a couple of books a week. I knew I had to find other ways to make money on my writing, and they had to be ways that I could feasibly do and make enough money to pay my bills.
Between Associated Content, and few other like-minded places such as Daytipper, as well as my fiction writing, I’ve been able to meet that goal. Becoming a freelance writer changed my life in ways that I couldn’t even have imagined a year ago. The first being that I’ve found I must be far more disciplined. If I don’t write I don’t get paid, and if I don’t get paid, neither do the bills. Now I don’t know about you, but that to me is a very scary thought. I also found that I have to have a set schedule and a goal for what I want to accomplish each day. I must write whether I feel like it or not, just like when I had a regular job.
It was difficult at first because the temptation was to sleep, get up and eat when I felt like it. I found that if I followed that through on a regular basis I was tired, I gained weight, and I got little to no writing done. So, I had to change all that. I had to go to bed at the same time every night, eat at regular times, exercise regularly, and I also had to turn off the computer and stop working at a certain time.
The truth is I always thought working from home would be easier than having a regular job, but it’s harder. Unlike a regular job there is no one to tell you what time you must begin working, when you must eat, and take breaks, and when you have to go home. You have to figure out what these things are going to be all by yourself. There is no thought in your mind of “If I don’t get up I’ll be late to work, and I could lose my job.” Nope, instead there’s the temptation to roll over and catch a few more Z’s.
The first six months were the worst. I had a very hard time being disciplined enough to make what I was doing count both time wise and money wise. After the move and having survived the most awful job of my career I just wanted to crash, but I had to look for work. Then when I was just getting with freelancing my laptop crashed and became completely worthless, so I had to wait until I could get a replacement. Finally though, bit by bit the changes I had been trying to make began to take hold. So, now I get up in the morning, sit down at my computer, check my e-mail, then have breakfast and shower. After that I’m glued to the computer for a few hours writing before I take my first break, and I make sure to take a lunch break and afternoon break. Then around 7:00 or so depending on if I’m really into something I’m working on, I stop, and turn off the computer. I make sure I eat right, and get 30 minutes of exercise at least 3 times a week, and I take my breaks.
In many ways the most obvious way that becoming a freelance writer has changed my life is that I am far more disciplined than I ever was when I had a regular job. Before I was always too tired to exercise, or to worry about eating right. Now, I don’t have a choice or an excuse, I have to be disciplined. This is the most obvious reason for how becoming a freelance writer has changed my life.