Every time that I get asked what I do for a living, the inevitable reaction is that the person thinks that I have a lot of free time on my hands. Just because the word “free” is in freelance writer does not necessarily mean that I am any less of a hard worker as someone who is given a set schedule from their employer.
Most recently, I was asked what I do “back home” by Jenny Kwan, our tour guide in Beijing. I told her that I work from home as a freelance writer and her immediate response was that I must have a lot of time on my hands, emphasizing how great it is that I can work “when I want to.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is a freelance writing myth.
Don’t get me wrong. I much prefer my current working situation over a conventional 9-to-5 kind of job, but it’s not like I’m free to do as I please. If you think having one boss is bad enough, try juggling several “bosses” simultaneously. In the context of freelance writing, each and every client becomes a sort of a boss or manager, just as the case would be if you were a lawyer, accountant, or other business professional. Each client has specific needs that must be met and some are more demanding than others.
Many people think that freelance writers and other work-from-home professionals have very flexible working hours. This is partially true, but you also have to realize that we juggle multiple deadlines and — speaking for myself — it’s not uncommon to work from after breakfast right up to bedtime. Because I work from home, I almost feel obligated to work whenever I can rather than when I want to. Maybe it’s just my work ethic.
Freelance writers enjoy certain freedoms, like being able to turn down projects when they’re too busy, but it’s not like we’re truly working for ourselves; we’re working
for with all of our clients and this brings great responsibility.