On Saturdays, I Play the Role of the FreelancerSpring is here in Chicago. Finally. The kids in the park are screaming their energetic joy about life and monkey bars, and I know this because I’ve got the windows wide open. Glorious fresh air. It seems a shame to stay inside, but I’m working. I’ve had Wussy and Jenny Lewis on repeat, and I’ve been writing and editing since I got out of bed. On Saturdays, I play the role of the freelancer.
During the week, I’m a full-time editor for healthcare management consultants. I log on every weekday morning at 8 and log off every evening at 5. I take an hour for lunch in the middle of my shift. My schedule is structured, and there isn’t any flexibility, aside from vacation time (and an emphasis on the casual in business casual, because I work from home). But weekday work is not the only gig in town. I edit for Our Hen House. I line up leads for upcoming projects. I network and write and tweet and post.
It can be a grind, and I wonder how long my more-than-full-time life will be sustainable. After I shake off the editorial fatigue of the regular workweek, I have the expanse of my favorite day, Saturday, to toil for my own endeavors. But sometimes work is the last thing I want to do; on many weekends, I’ve got no stamina or desire to concentrate.
At this week’s networking dinner for Chicago Women in Publishing in Evanston, other creative professionals and I discussed to-do lists, habits, and productive procrastination. We talked about how to manage impossible deadlines and the sneaky trap of the work that has no deadline. The challenge of careers in creative fields where there is never one right answer. When do you let go and call it done? How do you set boundaries with clients? Has e-mail culture made everything instantaneous and interruptions a constant reality?
Our questions led to even more questions. The freelance versus in-house employee debate was an undercurrent to our discussion. It’s cliché but true: The grass is always greener. When I’m still in jammies at 3 p.m. because I’ve been writing all morning, in between listening to music and washing some dishes, the flexibility of freelance life seems like the pinnacle of creative freedom. It’s Saturday, and with the threat of Monday barely a speck on the horizon, anything is possible. Even still, right now I’m just playing the role of the freelancer.by