As of last Saturday I am a full-time freelance writer. On Friday afternoon I left the department store, where I have worked for the last two years, for the last time. Unfortunately, because I went straight to the pub with my ex co-workers, my first day of freelancing did not get off to the lightning quick start I had hoped for. But once the hangover had subsided I got to work and I have worked every day since. And yet, a week in, I feel like I have not done one creative thing. This isn’t just me procrastinating; full-time freelance means a huge amount of admin work, it means checking emails, writing to contacts and scouring the web to ensure you don’t miss an opportunity. It means making a plan of which of these opportunities is most urgent, best paying, or most likely to succeed. And, inevitably, it means putting your own projects- that long planned screenplay/sitcom/novel- on the back burner while you get your head around the fact that at the end of this month the bills will be arriving as usual, the pay cheque will not.
So what have I planned? Well, the only reason I feel confident in doing this is that I have one semi-regular employer in waiting, and by the end of summer he should be supplying half the money I need to live on, assuming he’s on the level and the deal doesn’t go south between now and then (I may have quit my day-job too soon but I really hated it). The other half of my living costs will come from a combination of royalties on stuff I’ve already written and lots of bits and pieces which pay small amounts but when you add them all up should cover the shortfall. Unfortunately the only royalties I get are from pantomimes, so only come at Christmas. That puts a lot of pressure on the bits and pieces, which at present are; satirical sketches (which I sell pretty regularly), short stories (which I write for a women’s magazine under a fake name), greetings cards (I sell about two lines a year), and comedy shows (nobody’s paying me yet but I’m going to start insisting). I also plan to look into Kimble books, magazine articles, TV sketch shows, proof-reading, and I’m staging a musical I wrote, which could be very profitable but probably not for a decade or so.
That’s what I’ve spent this week planning and that’s why the only thing I’ve written since becoming a full-time writer is one short story, which I don’t like.
I’m also going out three nights this week and it’s hard to write with a hangover. The problem is when you are just starting out as a freelancer it can feel a lot like being on holiday. Hopefully by this time next week I will have found my focus, if not I’ll be asking for my old job back.