When I left my staff job and became a freelance journalist, almost two years’ ago, I worried I wouldn’t get enough work, would find it hard to discipline myself and would go a little bit odd, sitting on my own all day. Two years on and I find it hard to imagine going back to full time employment. Here are some of my favourite (and least favourite) things about freelance life.
- When I’m working, I’m really working. I’m not sitting in someone else’s meeting, wondering why I’m here, surreptitiously reading emails on my phone.
- I can organise my time to make room for the things that are important to me (writing fiction, researching, gardening, cooking, reading, seeing friends and family).
- I can work where I am, or where I feel like going. Usually it’s my shared office space, or my study at home. Sometimes it’s the British Library, the Wellcome Collection Reading Room, a train carriage, even the garden.
- When I’m busy, I can crack on with work, no interruptions, until it’s done. When I’m not busy, I can go for a walk, get the shopping, see an exhibition. These times balance out.
- The work itself. Reading, writing, researching, interviewing interesting people. No office politics. What’s not to like?
- My money each month directly represents how hard I’ve worked.
- When I intend to down tools, then carry on reading the entire internet for another two hours with no-one to stop me or ask when I’m going home.
- When there’s either so much work I’m scared I can’t do it all, or so little I’m terrified I’ll never work again. (I can, and I will.)
- Working from home, I’m the neighbourhood receiver of parcels, enquiries from delivery people, fielder of election canvassers and religious missionaries.
- I’m rubbish at going out to pitch for commissions. Luckily lots of people I’ve worked with before come to me.
- Tax returns.