OK, without wishing to send anyone into spasms of jealousy, here are some of the things I love about being a self-employed writer (hang on in there – I`m getting to the bad bits next):
- I get to pick my own hours, which means I can at any point spontaneously switch off the laptop and go shopping (I have almost, virtually NEVER done this, of course. Especially not when accidentally stumbling across something pretty I wanted to buy while doing online research for a book).
- I get to be my own boss, tell myself what to do and decide when I want to do it. Today I spent an hour “thinking”. That meant lying on my bed with my eyes closed, dreaming about the beginnings of my next book. I`m not sure I could get away with that in an office.
- I don`t have to worry about what anyone else thinks, I don`t have to compromise or put up with irritating colleagues.
- Most days my commute involves coming down the stairs.
- I can wear slipper socks to work and don`t have to worry about bad hair days.
- I`m in charge of my own budget.
- Whole days without having to say a word to anybody. And I can talk to myself as much as I like.
That said, here are some of the things I don`t love so much about it:
- I have to pick my own hours, or the work doesn`t get done. This often means working longer than I ever did when I was an employee.
- I have to be my own boss, make all the decisions and accept all the responsibility. If I want a pat on the back I usually have to do it myself. Even writing this seems sad and pathetic.
- I rarely get to hear what anyone else thinks. I have no colleagues to offer a different perspective or discuss things with, no bigger picture.
- Sometimes I don`t leave the house all day. And I spend evenings and weekends at my office. Except I don`t actually have an office yet, so I work wherever I can find space/peace.
- Tax returns.
- My Christmas parties aren`t much fun.
- Whole days without saying a word to anybody.
As an independent introvert, the 1st list far outweighs the 2nd. But after 15 years, I`ve found the biggest drawback to self-employment is this:
That little word – self.
One of the struggles with working for and by myself, is that inevitably it becomes all about me.
I think all of us face this issue to some degree. Finding the balance between our agenda, our wishes and needs, living our precious lives the way we choose. But at the same time recognising we`re not alone –we need other people and to hear what they`ve got to say. That living for ourselves generally ends up lonely, empty, and with an unbalanced view of the world.
For me, being self-employed means working hard to avoid becoming self-obsessed or self-centered, stuck in my own little world. I know I don`t always manage it. My husband often bears the brunt of my verbal onslaught as I dump a day`s pent up conversation on him.
But there are things I can do to help:
- This week I visited a writer`s group and had fun creating with other people.
- Spending some of my spare time with others – I help out at a youth club, organise women`s events, lead a 20s group.
- Connecting to the right stuff on social media, to see what`s going on, and what`s being said about it.
And once a week my work is brushing my hair, swapping slippers for a pair of shoes, getting out and seeing how some other people`s work is going. Yes, that usually includes coffee or a nice lunch, maybe a walk in the countryside. Some laughter, story-telling, a nice bunch of flowers. But what can I say? My boss told me it`s an essential part of the job…
How about you?
Do you enjoy the buzz that comes from being part of a team, or relish the idea of time to your own thoughts, creating your own deadlines?
What do you love most about how and where you spend your days?