Adventures In Freelancing: Learning To Accept Workless Days

From a work perspective, November was a tough month. After not having one of my contracts renewed due to financial troubles on the website’s part, I found myself without one of my most consistent sources of work. This really messed with my head on several levels: confidence, finances and creative. I’m kind of a paranoid guy, so anytime I’m told something in regards to my writing, I always have a nagging thought in the back of my head wondering if I’m the problem and not the thing I’m being told. This is something I need to learn to deal with obviously and I’m working on it.

Financially, I’ve found other avenues for my writing and have done an alright job making up for the missing funds. I actually had a really good talk with my mom that helped put my mind at ease bit. She put freelance writing in the context of owning your own business, which technically I do as does she. Mom explained that in her first few years of running her own massage therapy business, she would panic too when business wasn’t going great, but that things wound up working out. Even now when she has a bad month, she’s used to the ups and downs of the biz and she noted that this was my first downward turn, basically saying I’d get more used to it the longer I do this. Mom’s way more positive than I am in general and believes that everything will work out for me in the end, but I’m more skeptical. It’s nice having someone so positive in my corner. She’s a good influence.

So, over the past month or so, I’ve dealt with the ego and financial issues to an extent, at least mentally, but the boredom is something that’s still bothering me. When it came to that old gig, I had work that I did both on a daily basis and a weekly basis, so it kept me pretty busy. I literally always had something to do on a given day, even if it wasn’t earning me a ton of cash. Now, though, there’s whole days where I found myself sitting around wondering what to do with myself. And, weird as it might sound, watching TV and movies and reading comics seem to be great ways to spend my free time. One of the most common pieces of advice for new pop culture writers is “Always be pitching” and I’ve found that I’ve been able to turn various personal reading and viewing adventures into financial gain. For example, watching Gremlins got me thinking about other movies that take place around Christmas which I turned into a list for Topless Robot. Something similar happened when I started re-reading Green Lantern. I also spend a good chunk of my day reading all kinds of different websites for inspiration.

Even if I can’t figure out a way to turn what I’m reading or watching into something I can get paid for, I at least try to use the material on this blog. I don’t make any money off of UnitedMonkee, but I do treat it like a job, trying to add as much original content as possible. One of my fears when it comes to being a professional writer is letting myself get rusty. By covering all kinds of different topics on UM, I’m trying to keep my writing style and subjects fluid and new. Today, I spent a pretty good amount of time writing a post about my favorite albums of 2010. I’m not making any money off that, but I did get to flex my music writing skills and it might bring some more eyes to the site, which is always a good thing, especially if those eyes happen to belong to people who run websites or magazines.

I’ll be honest, it’s surprisingly tough for me to spend a day watching TV or reading comics. It sounds great, but I was raised to work while I was at work and play when I wasn’t working, so mixing the two messes with my head a little bit. I’m not exactly in a traditional work situation here, so I’ve got to learn to adapt and look at work a different way. Plus, it’s pretty fun to say I get to watch TV and read comics for a living!

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