Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Seven Weeks of Freelancing, Seven Things I've Learned

The other day, I realised that I'm nearing the end of my second month as a freelance ghostwriter. This has come as something of a surprise, not least because in my mind I'm still on my travels, frolicking across white-sand beaches in the sunshine, and sloshing around cocktails while I laugh about all the books I've had time to read... But no, I do appear to be back in Edinburgh now, where there are very few sunny days and quite expensive cocktails, and I actually seem to be working. 

In fairness, the job itself is not all that different from what I was doing in Geneva, it's the experience of ghostwriting from home that I'm having to get used to. And already, I've learned that there are several things I need to keep in mind, in order to have a productive working day - or rather, any kind of working day at all.

1) Morning tea is essential to morning work: My partner has a Proper Office Job and therefore leaves the house at some unholy hour each day. I have managed to 'persuade' him (read: 'subject him to a merciless campaign of moaning, pleading, sulking and bribery') to make me a cup of tea before he goes. The positive effects of this pre-breakfast beverage on someone like me, who struggles to think before noon, cannot be overstated. In fact, one day, when the kettle broke... No, I can't talk about it.

2) Get dressed: This is pretty good advice for life, actually. But in a freelance context, what I say to myself is this: no matter how good you feel in your adorable New Girl-style pyjamas, for goodness' sake put on some proper clothes. Because pyjamas make it easier to go back to bed, and if you go back to bed... Well, there's no one around to make you tea anymore.

3) Flat-hunting is not conducive to writing: Sadly self explanatory.

4) The internet is your friend: Research! Advice! News! Opportunities! Instant communication! Supportive writerly people!

5) The internet is your enemy: The following are some genuine questions my friends and I have asked one another on Facebook etc. during work time over the past seven weeks, each prompting thought-provoking and time-consuming discussion:

  • What shall we call our pub quiz team?
  • How did they trick Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford into appearing in the next Star Wars film?
  • How shall we celebrate World Gin Day?
  • If we camp in the Trossachs, what is the likelihood of being entirely devoured by midges?
  • Who, according to Buzzfeed, would play your dad in a film?
  • When/where/how shall we watch the Game of Thrones finale?
  • Will there be ice cream?*

(*This one provoked the most chat, I'm not even kidding.)

6) Just keep swimming: Dory is obviously the wisest character in Finding Nemo, if not in all of Pixar, because we know she wasn't just talking about swimming. Me, I am just talking about swimming: it is the only kind of sport for which I have any enthusiasm or talent, so I find a good break from the computer screen is to go and thrash around in the local pool for a while, and become weirdly territorial if anyone else comes into the 'serious swimmer' lane.

7) It's, erm, kind of great: There are obviously downsides to working from home; the lack of real company is a big one, and the amount of discipline I have to muster just to start typing in the morning is pretty momentous. But when I reach my daily word count, and I'm happy with what I've written - that's a good feeling. As is, seven weeks in, realising I'm already more efficient, I'm finishing the ghostwriting earlier each day, and I finally have some time - precious, much-anticipated time - to start concentrating on my own writing.

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