Hi friends, it's Homer the Freelancer here!
Recently I happily stumbled upon the page of the lovely Miss Hazel Fluffypants, a freelance writer just like me! We exchanged intermews, and I'd like to share our Q&A with you :) Follow Miss Hazel via her webpage or Facebook for more info!
1. Why did you get into writing?
Well, initially, the keyboard felt warm on my paws. I also intermewed quite a few social media cats in my first year of blogging, fascinated by the community we are not otherwise able to have due to our limited communication infrastructure. We have stories to tell, good stories, and I want to help.
I also love making my readers laugh and feel good at the same time, and as a cat, I am pretty good at it. Sometimes I do goofy things, like when I close the door in your face, or knead you in the pudge, but if you are upset, I will snuggle you, and if you are fixing a broken sink, I will be there, ready to help as if I was a plumber in a previous life.
2. Did you find it difficult to find work due to discrimination against feline writers? I often use my human's name to book jobs.
I just ran into this problem last week! The internet has made us famous because we do so many funny things, like yesterday when I figured out how to get on top of the fridge. Unfortunately, though, some people tend to take our work less seriously, but that's okay. We just have to work twice as hard, and sleep only 22 hours a day instead of the average 25.
3. What is special about your person?
My Pops is the best. He lets me use his keyboard to write and also throws me pieces of my dry food, and I try to catch them. Sometimes I do!
4. My step-sister Minnie Mew is a calico like you, but she is grumpy and won't let me play with her. Can I play with you?
Yes, please! No one plays with me, even though literally everyone plays with me all the time, but I meow as if they don't.
5. What is your favourite thing to write?
Holiday stories! I am working on one right meow for Halloween!
6. Is everything you write on the computer, or do you do a bit of pen-and-paper scribbling once in awhile?
Pawing at a keyboard is more expedient due to my conspicuous lack of thumbs, but I do find it important to use my paws to paw-write things, since it uses the part of the brain associated with the subconscious. If I am stuck on a part of my story, I just paw it out on paper and find the answer was there all along.
7. What is the worst writing job you've ever had?
Hmm, I don't think I have one! I have been lucky to work on some wonderful projects in my short life so far.
Thanks for chatting! Headbonks and purrs to you <3
There's an episode of Friends that has stuck with me for a long time, in which Rachel is fed up with her waitressing job at Central Perk. She wants to break into the fashion industry, but a lack of formal education or any real job experience means that her horde of poorly-edited resumes has turned up nothing. Joey and Chandler suggest that she quit her current job, and get "The Fear."
"If you quit this job, you then have the motivation to go after a job you really want!"
It makes sense, but like Chandler, you might be "too afraid" to follow this advice.
Here's the thing though: The Fear really works!
When I started freelance writing, I had no reputation and no published content. The Fear of no more spaghetti in the cupboard, no decent cat food in the kitties' dishes, and perhaps no more tiny one-bedroom apartment to shelter us drove me to seek out all kinds of crazy writing opportunities, and work for less than peanuts to make something of myself. I hooked up with an academic writing company and a content farm (the first of which paid better) and eventually chose to work exclusively with the content farm just so that I didn't have to be embarrassed when explaining what kind of work I did. Well, not as embarrassed, anyway.
After a year of working my ass off, making connections and getting things published, I had a decent portfolio and a few extra job offers, though they were extremely underpaid. I took them, because I still needed spaghetti and cat food, but soon I was able to move up into the world of middle-wage content farming! The day I completed my first Scripted post for $24.50, I felt like anything was possible. Sauce to go with my spaghetti! Tuna for the cats! New sheets!
Several years later I am averaging $50 per hour with my writing, and I've moved my furry gang into a 3-bedroom house with a gorgeous enclosed back yard just for them. They eat some of the most nutritious cat food in the world, and I have time to make pizza, bean burgers, curry and all kinds of fun things for dinner. We can afford to use the air conditioner!
Life is good, and it is all thanks to The Fear. Well, several Fears, in fact: working under someone I don't respect; getting up too early in the morning; commuting; doing a job that doesn't matter to me; and being stuck firmly in one location forever.
There are 3 things I've learned that will take your freelance writing career to the next step:
What are you afraid of? Is it enough to make you take the plunge?
There's no place like home for the holidays - unless your home is also your office!
Even if you aren't religious - and no, I am not a religious cat myself - the December holidays are a wonderful opportunity to de-stress and relax with loved ones. But how can you resist the temptation to check one more email, send one more query out, or list ideas for your next several blog entries?
For me, the main issue is the fact that I am essentially in my place of work, no matter what's going on around me.
So? I change what my workplace looks like, to help get me into the vacation spirit, and make fun plans to keep me away from work. Here's how you can do it, too:
Every writer wants to be a world traveller. To discover the mysteries of the human race; to see the echoes of history and the bright lights of the future intertwined is the ultimate inspiration. Although I've been lucky enough to travel quite a bit during my life, I recently discovered something: it's got a lot more to do with my job than I realized. I can be a freelance writer in London, or Paris, or Toronto or any other place where internet or paper media exists. Why? Because I don't have to apply for a work permit.
Aaah, yes, the ubiquitous work permit. You have heard of it? For those of us lucky enough to have citizenship in a Commonwealth country and not have celebrated more than 30 birthdays, it probably hasn't yet been a problem. Unfortunately, this year I did celebrate my 30th birthday, making the Working Holiday Visa scheme useless to me. But what does that matter, now that I can visit any country on a tourist visa? I will simply continue to work for clients online, in countries that I note on my taxes
But what about my fiancé? A Mexican passport is not as valuable on the world stage as a Canadian passport, unfortunately. Although my sweetheart is still under 30, there are precious few Working Holiday Visa opportunities for him. Those that do exist are riddled with fine print and impossible standards. The problem is this: how the hell do the two of us spend a year away from Mexico or Canada with dual income?
It's not the sort of problem that can be solved with an evening on Google - and most problems are. No matter how Pepe and I sort out this expatriotic mess, take one thing to heart: The Freelancer Owns the World. Sure, we'll still have to apply for tourist visas, for residence permits, for business visas and the like. But on the whole, we don't have to defend our existence to a government that is anxious to keep out foreign workers. We're self-sufficient, as far as they are concerned. Unlikely to take a job away from a skilled local. A freelancer in London is fine; a foreign jobseeker is not.
Like the sound of becoming a freelance writer in London, Paris, Rome or Tokyo? Get the training and guidance you need!
Posted by Retta Casavant
What should a writer be doing when they aren’t writing?
Everyone needs a hobby or an interest outside work. Staying focused too long on only your tasks-at-hand and trudging through the details and minutia of the daily grind can be more wearing if there isn’t some kind of significant break.
There is research that shows that using a different part of your brain for even a few minutes can help keep you better equipped to deal with your usual work. For example, for someone to pick up a mathematical book to read and think about even for five minutes (whether mathematically inclined or inept) can change thought patterns and the physiology of what’s going on in the brain for that time. This is apparently a healthy way to keep the whole brain more active and in more simple terms take a rest from the usual thought patterns (or ruts).
What’s a good hobby for a writer?
Emily Dickinson loved to bake. Apparently, she made vast quantities of baked goods and then shared them with children in her neighbourhood. Less surprisingly, Ernest Hemingway enjoyed hunting and fishing. Sylvia Plath took up beekeeping and found great satisfaction in its practicality.
There are a million ways for a person to disconnect from work and get absorbed in something else. Most people don’t have a problem knowing what it is they want to spend time doing. There are some however, who simply can’t imagine what on earth they would do if they weren’t working. Whether it’s easy or hard to switch your brain to a hobby or pastime, it is definitely something that can help the creative process and reduce work fatigue.
What to do, what to do…..
Some hobbies that may provide some material for writers while being away from the desk are people watching, eavesdropping and generally being snoopy about other people. You could label these activities “realistic dialogue research”. Reading may not be the best pastime for writers as you may find yourself critiquing the writing or worse, trying to figure out how to emulate it. Hobbies further removed from how you make your living are probably more effective in giving you an effective break.
If you want to switch gears but not necessarily get away from your computer screen, there is Pinterest where you can swoon over decorating ideas, recipes, gardens or inspirational messages.
Collecting things is a hobby many people have. Ayn Rand was a stamp collector. Tracking down and collecting things like postcards, snow globes or antique buttons can most certainly create some different brain synapses than the written word does. Home brewed alcoholic beverage making is popular and astronomy remains a strong contender as well.
If you don’t currently have a hobby and need an instant fix, you can do something easy like throw on a movie for a couple hours or get out and go for a walk.
Writers! If you don’t have a hobby or something that captivates you outside of your work, get off the keyboard now and go out into the world and find an interest! It may save those parts of your brain that are presently collecting cobwebs. A writer’s biggest tool is the brain. Let’s keep that tool at peak efficiency by doing something completely different!