fredag, maj 12, 2006

Five Things I've Learned as a Freelancer

When life got at fictional him, Ishmael went to sea and was nearly killed by a whale and captain, both of whom had significant problems with just letting go. When life got at young Christopher McCandless, a real person, he gave away all his money and went into the Alaskan wilderness. He died four months later of starvation in an abandoned bus. Feeling a little less adventurous than those gents but more than a little burnt out after five years in the same brown cubicle, I simply decided to stay home and make a go of it.

I've learned a number of things. Hold up your hand, friend. I give you five:

1. It’s incredibly easy to rack up $150 per month just in communications costs. Landline phone, cell phone, high-speed internet: the necessities. The additional business costs exceed, in some months greatly, anything I ever paid in gas while commuting.

2. A fast laptop computer is one’s lifeblood. It allows you to work outside the home when you start feeling a little stir crazy. You felt that way before; you certainly will now.

3. The soap Passions is just awesome right now: a mermaid, a Davinci Code-like subplot involving an Omega Monk, numerous witches, a child character who speaks in thought bubbles. This is the sort of white noise I hunger for.

4. Free wi-fi is a gift from the coffeehouse gods. A fantastic way to begin the day is to work in public for one hour. Get up at a normal work time. Shower. Dress (in different clothes each day, hello). Be among the people, but work. Remember: Though coffeehouse people are creepier than bar people, do not make the bar your office.

5. Working as a freelancer for your former employer feels something like trying to “just be friends” with an ex after a very bad breakup. Oh so many hurt feelings.

Being independent isn’t a choice to make rashly, though most of us happen into it to our own surprise. The risk feels great, it’s something of a high (so long as you have genuine ambition), but you must always keep in mind that you have just now made yourself a business. Repeat: You are a business. You have to operate your life as such.

And, really, do the dishes already. You’re not that busy.
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