Being a freelance writer really is a double-edged sword. Being your own boss: yay! Being on your own all-day, every day: boo! So many freelance writers I know end up disappearing into their own little workaholic bubble. And when you’ve got deadlines looming, or the worry of not enough work to cover next month’s rent, it’s easy to cut yourself off from the outside world. Often, without even realising it.
I’ve been there. I think I maxed out at six days moving between my bed and my desk just sleeping and working, before my housemates finally told me to, “GET OUT OF THE EFFING HOUSE. And come to the pub,” which was a really good idea. Because sometimes when you’re freelancing you completely forget that you’ve not seen anyone for yonks and you just accept that creeping, lonely feeling as part of the job.
It doesn’t have to be that way!
Just because you freelance, doesn’t mean you have to be lonely
Recently, I joined a Facebook group called The Copywriters Club. In the last few days several members have posted that they’ve been feeling lonely, or a little lost. Writing really can feel like the toughest job in the world when you’ve not got someone you can call “colleague”. Luckily, it’s a really supportive group. For those times when you do feel a little low, or need an extra noggin to bounce some ideas off, the members are really helpful.
So I thought I’d put down some of the suggestions made by members on how to avoid loneliness when freelancing, plus a few of my own tried and tested ideas.
Change your workspace
Just because you’re a freelancer, it doesn’t mean you have to work from home every day. The clue is in the job title: you’re “free” to work wherever you like. So take advantage of how mobile your office can be. Grab your laptop and notebook and head to a cafe, or library. You could even register for a desk in a co-working area.
Pretty much everywhere nowadays is hooked up with reliable internet, or if you’ve got a project on where you really do need to do the majority of work from home, then just do a few hours out at another location. The change of scenery and people will really help.
Step away from your desk
One of the main reasons us freelancers start to feel lonely is because we don’t know when to stop working. “Oh, I’ll just do a bit more. Then tidy up this bit and rearrange that.” Before you know it the weekend or evening – basically the only time your office-employed friends are free – has vanished. And you’ve missed the opportunity to see them.
If this sounds way too familiar, then you need to learn to say, “I’m done for the day and will pick this up again tomorrow.” Give yourself a finishing time, like your mates in the office have. There is no shame in clocking-off at five, or five-thirty and enjoying the outside world after a day working, just like any other office-based professional.
Work in-house for a while
If a big project lands on your doorstep that’s going to demand lots of hours for the same client, why not ask if you can work in their ofice for one or two days a week? Granted, this might not always be appropriate, but if the set up is there for you to do this, then not only do you get to work in an office with other humans, but you’ll get a whole new level of insight into your client’s business. This can only be a good thing for your content, and ultimately your client, because your copy will be even more informed.
Commit to a group or club
Sign up to a sports club, book group, amdram society, or crafting circle. Making a commitment to a group, society or club – registering, paying fees, showing your face at a meeting, being cast in a show – will push you to spend time with new folks and (this bit is the real key) ensure that you keep going back.
Ever had to overcome loneliness as a freelancer?
While I’m not trying to create an Agony Aunt column with this blog, I know there are freelancers out there that have delt with loneliness in their own way. I’d love to hear your suggestions and would be only to happy to add them to this post.
Comment below, or tweet me @RoseC_Leic with your thoughts.