Elance recently ran this article on “debunking the myths of freelancing.” I didn’t subscribe to most of these ideas before I started freelancing, and I don’t think most people do–which is why most people fight to keep their 9 – 5 at all costs. Myth #4: “You’ll have lots of personal time to have fun and relax” did hit close to home, though. It’s also in line with the most accurate warning I ever heard about freelancing: Remember that you’re going from working “full-time” to working “all-the-time.”
I said, “Uh-uh, not gonna be me. I am not one of those people who will work all the time.”
But that phrase has certainly come back to haunt me in my first year as a freelancer–when I look at the clock and realize it’s almost time for bed, and I’m still working; when I check available assignments one more time, even though I don’t have time to start a new one; when I squeezed in a few hours of work on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and more than a few hours on every single weekend. My work is always across the room from me, and there’s always, always one more thing to do. I no longer have the luxury of going home at the end of the day.
This is not a pity party I’m throwing for myself, but a simple acknowledgment of the reality. It was a reality I didn’t fully acknowledge before I left my full-time job, and here’s why: making the switch from traditional employment to full-time freelancing is really, really, really scary. I knew before I left my job that I was romanticizing my upcoming life as a freelancer — but that was OK. Romanticizing the future is sometimes the only way to get off your duff and move into the future. And moving forward it preferable to being stuck, no matter how comfy being stuck is.
And I’m glad I chose to move forward. Because, although I’m working more than I’ve ever worked before, I’m also writing more than I’ve ever written before, and that was the ultimate goal of this career transition. There are certainly days when I ask myself what I’ve gotten into, but there are other days when I have to pinch myself to know it’s really true: somehow I’m paying my bills, and I don’t have a “real job.”
It is possible. Not easy, but possible. The fact that this security-loving, change-resistant, marketing-reluctant girl can make a go of it proves that point.