Monday, January 16, 2012

For the freelancers: don't BLOW OFF your dreams

When you work Monday through Friday there's really nothing more liberating than the words "three day weekend." At least that's how I remember it. It's been awhile since I've had the typical work schedule. As some of you know, I left my corporate job about two years ago to take my chances at being a writer. It wasn't a completely rash decision-- I had sold a script and saved enough money to last me at least a year. BUT I was abandoning a cushy high paying job, stock options, 401K, health benefits, etc. etc.

The first year, it was awesome. I was working less than 40 hours a week and getting paid consistently. The second year, things were much slower. I told myself not to worry. I was planning a wedding and timing wise, it was a blessing to have a flexible schedule. And then that wedding depleted my savings. Lately, for the first time since I quit my job, I've kind of missed having a normal 9-5 and a steady paycheck. When my life partner gets to go on fancy work trips or my sister tells me about the latest celebrity that visited the Twitter offices, I almost long for the days of having an office and co-workers and a well earned happy hour. BUT on the day we celebrate the man with the dream, I feel the need to remind myself that I have a dream too and it's taken guts to follow it. (Obvi, my dream isn't nearly as significant as MLK, Jr.'s was, but just go with it). So, this post is for all of you freelancers. All of you people taking the unconventional route to accomplish your dreams. For some, it's a luxury. For some, it's a sacrifice. For all of us, it's a risk. We're all gonna get a little panicked from time to time. When the money and the work aren't consistent, we're all going to wonder whether we should BLOW OFF our dream...but here are the top ten reasons foregoing the 9-5 is pretty effing awesome. Let's at least bask in that for a little while longer before we start sending out resumes.

10. You never get the Sunday night blues. Monday is much less daunting when you work for yourself and set your own schedule. Now the only thing I have to worry about on Mondays is that my car is parked on the right side of the street so I don't get a street cleaning ticket.

9. Remember when you had a job and you'd take a personal day and go to a cafe or a park and there were all these people sipping coffee, reading the paper, walking the dogs and you wondered-- who are these people? How did they get so lucky? Well, now-- you're one of those people.

8. You learn to be self disciplined. When you don't answer to anyone, you have to set your own goals and deadlines and schedule. Being able to get shit done without anyone holding a gun to your head to do it is a great skill to acquire.

7. You can go to the gym when it's not crowded. If you do work for yourself, I highly recommend exercising first thing in the morning. It gets your ass out of bed and gets you to start your day relatively early. People assume I sleep in every morning and stay in my pajamas all day...which would be tempting, but usually doesn't happen if I force myself to work out in the AM. And by AM, I mean 10ish.

6. You never have to set an alarm to wake up. I swear, it's psychologically much easier to wake up at 8am if there's no buzzing alarm forcing you to.

5. Unless you have multiple personality disorder, you never have to get bogged down by office politics or corporate bureaucracy. And you don't have to deal with annoying co-workers or demanding bosses.

4. It's way easier getting dressed in the morning when you don't have to figure out a cute business casual outfit. I take great joy in knowing that as of right now, I never have to buy a pair of slacks from Banana Republic again. (I also can't afford a pair of slacks from Banana Republic right now, but that's not the point.)

3. You can run your errands on off hours when the grocery store, the dry cleaner, bank, and the post office are not crowded. Have you been to Trader Joe's at 11am on a Tuesday? There's no one there! This sounds pretty awesome, but I will say, somehow without fail-- any time I'm ready to run an errand, it's noon and places are totes filled with people sneaking out of work on their lunch hour.

2. Depending on what you do, anywhere you take your laptop can be your office. I can go to the Bay Area to visit my family for the week or visit friends in New York and technically not take time off of work to do it.

1. You don't have that hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach that life is passing you by. That's only for the folks that don't like their day jobs of course. The H bomb has a 9-5 job that he loves and never complains about. But I was getting more and more complacent at my corporate gig-- not to mention the view from my office was of Forest Lawn cemetery. Watching funerals from your window can be a pretty heavy reminder that you're not doing what you want to be doing with your life.

I'm sure this all sounds great and lovely and for those of you with day jobs that want to kill me right now, I promise, it's not all great. It's stressful wondering when your next paycheck is going present itself. And the whole "following your dream" can be a lot easier said than done. I had to plan for it and save for years before I could actually do it. And even now, with my savings almost depleted, I'm lucky to have someone in my life that can keep me afloat (although, trust me, this is one girl that doesn't do well with the idea of not supporting herself completely.) But for those of you out there that are dealing with the same struggles of making your dreams come true, focus on the positive, and remember if the millionaire mom who invented jibbitz can do it, than for the love of God, so can we.

*in case you had any doubts, every time I write a BLOW OFF post, I lie on my stomach on the hardwood floor of my apartment to type.


  1. You have no idea how badly I needed this exact post at this exact time (writes the girl who is commemorating MLK by watching episodes of "Downton Abbey" from her bed). Inspiration comes in all forms.

  2. What ever happened with the script you sold? How many clients do you have? Details on how you manage...and eat! :)

    1. Hi anonymous,
      the script i sold is technically still in limbo on whether or not it will get made, but I'm not holding my breath on that one anymore. I'm not sure what you mean by clients-- you mean people hiring me or paying me to write? I've worked with a few various networks and productions companies who have paid me either for something i'd already written on my own or for new work. right now, i'm still living off my savings and the money i've made writing-- but ask me again in three months.