Some of my friends who are writers or creatives have asked me how I get my freelance projects. I certainly don’t have an enormous roster of clients (hence, as I tell new people I meet when they ask what I do: “I’m ananny to support my freelance writing and editing career”), but those that I have are pretty regular, thankfully.
To be honest, I never thought I would even be freelancing. I heard nightmarish tales when I was in journalism school about pleading to publications for work, MAYBE getting assigned one story, if you even got a response at all, and never having a steady income. I always figured I would get an entry-level job at a magazine or other publication and work my way up. (Pop back a couple of blog posts to see how that plan turned out…)
When I learned in the spring of 2016 that John got into Vanderbilt’s business graduate program, I was ecstatic and terrified. I worked at a job I wasn’t crazy for at Dallas’ city magazine, where, ironically, I had dreamed of working for a couple years before snagging my position. Before that job, I had worked two others, one at a PR company and one at a startup, both in creative-ish roles that looked fantastic on paper but fell flat as soon as I sat down at my desk in front of a computer for eight hours a day. Turns out, I don’t enjoy sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day.
After discovering I wasn’t happy or totally fulfilled at either of those first two jobs, going on to the third made me feel like that millennial. The “three jobs in one-and-a-half years after graduating” millennial. Yep, I was job-hopping with the best (worst?) of my peers. My first week at job number three, where I was navigating dozens of Excel spreadsheets and learning how to manage online voting systems for Best Doctors and Best Lawyers awards, left me feeling a bit trapped. I hated it — but how could I leave another job AGAIN? I would not only feel like that millennial; I knew I would be one, no question. And who the heck hires that millennial?
So, I stayed for a year and a half, until the news of John’s school admittance came. Hallelujah. Counting the weeks until our move, I knew I didn’t want to be staring at the clock until 5 o’clock at another desk, doing work that made my eyes bloodshot and my mind feel mushy by the end of the day. Freelance, I thought, is the way to go.
I ended up getting a remote copy editing job for Nashville’s local magazine, which I still have and adore. But that one check pays, oh, maybe a third of my bills. I emailed other publications, applied for freelance roles I found on LinkedIn and Indeed, and, on a whim, signed up for care.com, thinking I could at least babysit or nanny in the interim between moving and finding more writing work.
Good question. You may or may not have wondered what happened to the ol’ website that is frecklesandfigs.com for the last couple of months. I have, even if you haven’t. I’ve asked myself way too many times, How long can one avoid blogging until they need to remove “blogger” from their Instagram bio? The truth is, every time I’ve sat down to brainstorm topics to write on or started to click away on my keyboard, one of several rotating excuses pops into my mind.
First, though, let me say how much I hate when people in my life make excuses for things I understand they want to prioritize. For example, when my boyfriend expresses that he wants to workout but simply doesn’t have the time, in my head, I’m like, You’ll have the time when you make the time, buddy.
Isn’t it sad and hilarious how the things we tend to harp on about others are often the things we dislike in ourselves? So, yeah. I’m going to be honest about the excuses that have been keeping me from this place that has been such a wonderful and powerful outlet for my all-over-the-place thoughts and musings.
Before we get to those, I’ll tell you where I really have been. I’ve been traveling: home for my grandpa’s 90th birthday celebration and to Texas for a girlfriend’s bachelorette party in the hill country and to Asheville, NC, for a trip full of card games and delicious food with my boyfriend’s family. I’ve been adding freelance clients to my roster, whom I write several pieces of content, including blog posts and social media copy, for every week. I’ve been spending time with my sister, who has lived in Nashville for the summer doing travel nursing, going to concerts, drinking too much rosé, and talking about life face to face, which we haven’t done so regularly since high school (the chats, not the wine and concerts). I’ve been tip-toeing more and more out of my comfort zone — I joined a small group at my church, have done some volunteering, have attended way more spontaneous social get-togethers than I would prefer. (I’m a planner; have you noticed?)
A whole slew of people in the creative realm, maybe even everyone, allows themselves to believe a debilitating lie, and the lie is that your pursuit — be it blogging, writing a book, taking award-winning photographs, or penning songs — is consumed by enough talent already. There’s this littler whisper in our brains that shows up when we’re working on a project that tells us, in more or less words, that this pursuit is already way over-saturated, so go kick rocks.
You might think hearing voices in your head would make someone insane, but au contraire, I think it’s totally NORMAL for creatives. And we must somehow acknowledge Mr. Lie-telling Voice, tell him “Thanks for your input,” and then ignore him and continue on with the work.
Imagine if a kid who wanted to be a doctor got to college and his biology professor told him, “You really shouldn’t go this route. There are hundreds of thousands of doctors in the world already. No one will need you.” Obviously, that would probably never happen, unless the professor is off his rocker.
But so many of us in the left-brain world get talked out of pursuing our creative goals because there is so much like them out there already. I was talking with my mom recently about a book, “Love Warrior” by Glennon Doyle Menton, that she just finished reading. (Let’s be honest. Everyone is reading this book right now. Thanks, Oprah.) She was telling me how taken she was by the raw, no-holds-barred, devastatingly honest account of this woman’s tumultuous life.