I’ve been working freelance since February, and much as I hate to admit it, I’m bored. I always wanted to write for a living, but from the earliest days of blogging, it scared me. I was well aware that when you make a job out of a hobby, things get a little crazy. Once it becomes something you have to do, the fun goes out of it, and that’s not good. Money doesn’t make it easier – it makes it a whole lot harder.
I quit a good job in Tanzania because I wanted to work for myself. I wanted to do my own thing and get paid to write, and now I do. But it’s not what I expected. Of course there are perks. I pick my own hours, I’m here for my daughter, and I can hang out all day in pyjamas. My neighbours think I’m a housewife. A very strange housewife who has purple dreads and likes to walk around the estate in a sweatpants and a hooded sweater. One actually manned up the other day and asked me where I work. I said Westlands.
The part that tires me out is routine. I now have regular customers, but it’s the same thing. Write ten articles on bikes. Finish. Get paid. Write twenty articles on Nokia. Finish. Get paid. Write 15 articles on raspberry jam. Finish. Get paid. On and on and on and on. I’m still at the rookie stage, so I’ll make maybe $100 per assignment, and it’s a pretty good start. But when you make $100 for 100 articles, it can get a bit tedious, and I have to do at least 20 articles a day before it can pay off. That’s really tiring, and most days, I only manage 10.
At this point, it would be good to expand and get other people to do the writing so I can read Harry Potter all day, but I don’t really want to. I love the writing, it’s just the humdrum that gets to me. When I wake up and find a brief that says ‘Write 10 pages on your imaginary boyfriend’ I’m thrilled, and it’s super fun for the first four pages. Then I push myself and finish all 10 pages, only to hear the client say, ‘Brilliant! I love it! Now invent 10 more imaginary boyfriends.’ I can barely stifle the groan. The gig pays really well, but I’m realising that sometimes, good money isn’t enough.
Maybe it’s just Quarter Life Crisis, [that runs until age 30, right?] but I feel disillusioned. If my dream job isn’t quite a dream, then what else will fall in my laps? Will I get my dream car and find it feels more like a mkoko? Will I buy my dream penthouse and get stuck with the neighbour from hell, or worse, have my mother-in-law buy out the building?
The thing with negative thoughts is that they spiral, and the more you dwell on them, the faster they increase. Jack Canfield says on The Secret that if it isn’t fun, he doesn’t bother to do it, but I can’t convince myself that he enjoys paying taxes, so I guess all rules have an exception. I don’t imagine sportspeople like waking up at 3.00 a.m. to train, or practicing every day for a year just to have it all hinged on a ten second sprint. When I was whining about boredom to my better half, he asked me if there’s anything I like about freelancing, and I said, ‘Sure,’ and rattled off a list that was ten minutes long. He smiled and said, ‘See? It’s not so bad!’ How I love that boy.
So now I’m armed with a list of perks, and next time I’m restless, I’ll just look through the list. No matter how bad your job or business is, there are good things about it, and by dwelling on those, you can make it through the bad days. You might even turn the bad days good. And the good days are pretty awesome. I once got paid to say how much I like Ben 10. That was mad fun for the first four articles, but by the time I got to sixteen, even I knew I was bluffing. My client solved that my letting me write the articles in groups of five. She is SO cool.
I find basic writing assignments trying, because it’s fun saying how warm one woollen blanket; less fun saying it twelve different ways. I’d like to get to the level where I make $5000 on one assignment. Preferably, it won’t involve pimping on a Persian rug. But in the meantime, I love blogging assignments, so I spend a lot of time on those. I also update my website blog daily. Sometimes I feel bad that I spend more time working pro-bono, but it’s fulfilling, it keeps me sane, and it’s fun. Plus, yesterday I got a client recommended by a pal, and she hired me on the strength of my unpaid blogging. AND she recommended me to a second client who also liked my blog, so yay! I now have two long term clients paying me monthly to fill their blogs. How cool is that?! Definitely a good day.
Another thing you can do is to try emergency motivation. I’m told it’s a course in Boot Camp where they yell at you and call you names every time you start daydreaming. They also make you do press ups. The idea is to drill it into you that a boring task is fun. Later in life, when you feel like you’ll pluck your hair out on the assembly line, you just think of the drill sergeant and the press ups, and you have instant motivation. I’m told it’s very painful, it takes a while to learn, and you might become deaf, but it’s a worthy life skill for your 9 to 5. Me, I don’t like press ups; I prefer milk-free ice cream. So I’m going to stick with blogging, and when I buy that penthouse, I’m going to buy the whole building, just to keep my in-laws out.
Crystal Ading’ is a professional author, editor, rock lover, and mother. Her work is available through www.threeceebee.com.