You’ve heard my story of how I transitioned from my day job in corporate sales to life as a full-time freelance writer. Today I’d like to share exactly what I do on a daily basis. Is it as fascinating as what Stephen King or J.K. Rowling accomplish each day?
Nope, not even close. But it’s totally different than I ever thought would be possible.
If you’ve ever contemplated starting your own business or making the leap into freelance work, then you’re probably interested in knowing what a typical day looks like.
Or, perhaps you’re simply curious.
Here’s the first spoiler alert: it’s not the romanticized view of pounding away at the computer while looking through my cottage window towards the ocean waves each day. At least that was my personal perception of what a writer does. But now, as you’ll see, this is far from the reality.
The Morning Routine
Monday through Friday my schedule revolves around getting the kids where they need to be while making sure my work is completed.
I love dropping off my daughter at school each day. For years when I was working for other companies I didn’t have the flexibility to see the kids off to school. When I transitioned to freelance writing, this is one of the tasks I wanted to take on, since there were so many mornings and afternoons I missed in years past.
As soon as I’m home I hit the ground running. I’ve found if I sit down and try to “relax” for a few minutes, then forget it. It disrupts my entire morning because then I get sucked into watching the Hallmark channel or something. So to avoid this, I start working right away.
The first part of my work routine usually involves the administrative tasks. This way I can ease into the day as my two cups of coffee are kicking in. This is when I create and submit my invoices, check on work I’ve already submitted, and answer any emails from clients.
Lately I’ve focused a ton of energy on building up my client base. As a freelancer, I’ve learned you are hustling almost all of the time. Sure, I have great clients right now, but what happens if their content needs change and they no longer need a blogger?
I don’t see the constant hustle as a doom and gloom scenario, it simply keeps me motivated to know I need to look for work. And this means I carve out time in my morning each day pitching.
On to the Writing
I find my best writing takes place when my brain is the freshest. For me, this is a small window of time (halfway joking, of course). Around 9am I start working on my assignments or my personal blog here at The Proper Pen.
As much as I love writing, this is where I struggle with my time management the most. I have deadlines like everyone else, but find myself easily distracted some days. To combat this, I put my headphones in and crank up the classical music and put my phone away.
Sometimes I’ll go really crazy and head to Panera to work. This is usually when I have projects where I need to conduct more research or if it’s a new client I’m not as familiar with. I also can’t resist the Asiago Cheese Bagel and find it somehow makes my writing better.
I work for a few hours straight until lunchtime. When it comes to lunch, I stay home and take a short break. I used to take longer lunches, since I’m home and it’s easy, but again I find myself stretching them out longer and longer if I let them.
This is also when I might schedule a videoconference with a new client or a quick catch-up call with a current client. I try not to spend too much time on these, but I find sometimes you need the connection in order to keep the relationship on track.
Since I write for several online publications, each one has their own guidelines for submissions and how they like their content written. This impacts the order in which I write my assignments, and some days are easier to juggle than others. But for the most part, I spend most hours of my day with my actual writing.
And for this I couldn’t be more grateful.
The Chaos Begins
Since our boys are in middle school their hours are different than my daughter’s. The process to get all the kids picked up and home starts around 2:30 and finally concludes around 4. Naturally I can’t write while I’m in carpool, so I use this time to catch up on a podcast, audiobook, or call my Mama.
Once the kids are home our house starts to resemble Grand Central Station. We have golf practice, football practice, and ballet. Thankfully we are able to divide and conquer to get everyone where they need to be.
Once everyone is at their practices, this is usually the time I run errands. Hopefully I’ve planned enough ahead of time for dinner, which is likely something in the crockpot or super-quick to throw together.
At the end of the day I sometimes have work to tidy up or send over. The kids are used to seeing me crack open my computer as they finish up homework or are getting ready for bed. Then once the day is done, we get ready to do it all over again the next day.
What I Try to Do Each Day
I’ve adopted a work motto of always moving forward. Each day, even if it’s something minor, I do something to contribute to my workload or build up my business. This may sound exhausting, but if I don’t have specific tasks each work day, then it’s easy to go down a path involving shopping at Homegoods and Costco.
To quote my old Sales Manager “activity breeds activity” – but I’d like to modify it a little bit and say how the right activity breeds the right activity. In other words, I like to focus on what is actually contributing to my bottom line or growth as a writer.
I feel like right now is the time to do this, and one day the effort will pay off – such as when the books I’m working on are published and then turned into a hit series for Netflix! Maybe then I can relax a little…
There are plenty of times where I hear the word “no” or worse yet…crickets. Or maybe there are days where I’m not quite as productive as I’d like to be. When this happens I stay focused on what I do have and what I’m able to work on right now.
Here’s the second spoiler alert: freelance life can also get a little lonely. There’s not a ton of interaction with other people throughout the day – especially when you’re head-down and buried in your computer! This means you have to work a little harder on finding encouragement from others.
Staying positive is key. And when some days are harder than others, this is when I veer away from the routine and take a walk, call a friend, or go out to lunch with someone I enjoy spending time with.
And again, I couldn’t be more thankful for this life.
Is this what you pictured? I’m sure it’s not nearly as picturesque as the cottage by the sea while the royalty checks and book advances come rolling in. But until then, the routine of carpooling, running a business, writing all day, and running to practice and errands at night is what keeps me going. To say it’s different than the rat-race of my corporate days is a major understatement.