Life as a Freelancer: How has it Empowered Me?
Updated: Aug 23, 2020
I started reading at a very young age, not sure how old I was when I read my first book - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. One of my elder sisters had gifted that book to me and today, I can say, that was the most precious gift of my life - as it offered me a whole different perspective to life. Yes, the story is important but today, I wish to talk about the act of gifting the book to me. Further, she asked me to read one chapter in a day and then summarize in my own words what I had gathered. That was the real deal and how I used to struggle with words and the rules of grammar! But yes, that exercise changed my life, establishing an inherent curiosity, that gradually developed into immense love for writing.
During my school days, my passion for writing bloomed, acquiring a flair that caught the attention of my teachers. They would ask me to read out my essays in class while I kept on wondering what is it that they really like about this piece of writing. It was the original idea and creativity that everyone started appreciating and I held this compliment close to my heart, carrying it in all phases of my life, even when I was not writing.
I never really thought that I would pursue a career in writing, I always thought of it as a part of me, something that need not be my profession. But little did I know that with every article I penned down, I was working on my skills as a writer and with every book that I read, I was understanding the aesthetics of writing better. After a few stunts in my professional journey, I decided to become a freelance writer and right after graduation, I took up this role for a non-profit organization. This was almost 6 years ago, my very first step towards professional writing, and I never stopped freelancing ever since, even with a full-time profession. And today, I want to share how freelancing has empowered me as an individual and professional and what real difference it made in my life.
Life As A Freelancer: Here's how it empowered me
Pushed Me Out Of My Comfort Zone
If you believe that life as a freelancer is cozy and comfortable and often picture yourself working whenever you want and from wherever you are, let me reassure you that discipline is an integral part of this journey. Yes, you can work in your pyjamas and at the beach, but that doesn't take the pressure off your bucket. You got to be disciplined. Popularly recognized as a lazy and messy person, this brought some sense of order in my life. There are deadlines to meet and revisions to be done, and no more writing as per my own whims and fancies. Yes, creativity now needed some discipline - an oxymoron you would say, but yes, that's how it is. I can not take an entire day to finish a piece because I don't feel creative enough.
In professional writing, nobody really understands the writer's block - this is a conversation you need to have with yourself and find a golden mean.
An extraordinary aspect of my life as a freelancer has been the diversity of projects I get to work on and the challenge that arrives with each assignment. I come from an English Literature background but that doesn't mean that I get to write about Byron, Wordsworth, Shakespeare, or Woolf. The assignments I work on range from topics such as education, politics, culture, technology, career, social impact, health, and I can keep on adding to the list.
Being a freelance writer doesn't mean that you have to be an expert in all subjects. But you have to be willing to understand the subject and then simplify the dialogue for your readers or clients. This is also one of the deciding factors for a freelancer to base the price, you pay for our investment and time, not only for the writing skills.
What Value do I bring on the table?
I do not have a very good relationship with pride. It's the sense of joy and fulfillment that I seek in my work, a drive that also helps me ensure high-quality work. Ownership - that's what I am talking about. I own my work, and then I commit myself to it. In the initial phases, I would work for any amount, no matter how less it was. Because it made me happy. Gradually, I started realizing the importance of time and effort that goes into a project. And when I understood this, I could also realize that I deserve to be paid accordingly.
Yes, anyone can do the job but there's always a differentiating factor and that really builds your brand. If you don't understand this as a freelancer, nobody else would. And you will continue to complaint of a low income from freelance work.
Just because you did a few great gigs, earned a hefty amount, doesn't mean you stop reading, researching, or working on your own skills. Just because you are too creative doesn't imply that it's all going to happen magically. Certainly, there are perks that come along, but there's no room for complacency.
It's majorly the things I work on in silence that help me grow as a freelance writer. The article that made an impact, the writer who left me astounded, a video that broke my heart, the people around me, or a memory that I visualize in a piece of writing - it's all part of the resource pool. I am on my toes all the time, there's so much to learn from.
And there's a great feeling of being independent that I experience in my life as a freelancer - a feeling I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.
If you too are a freelancer, or have been one at some point, or wish to pursue this unconventional professional path, I would love to hear from you!