The Struggling Writer

The chronicles of a freelance writer as he tries to make a living.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The sick freelancer

I continue to struggle to get back to my writing schedule. I’m feeling better, though I still hack up pieces of lung now and then. I’m sleeping 10+ hours a day plus trying to get caught up with everything else that’s gone by the wayside.

And yet, since I try and be brutally honest about myself in this blog, most of the above is just excuses. As I’ve said, I’m bad at self-motivation. If I have a project and a deadline, I’ll work to exhaustion. But if the only person around to disappoint is me, then I tend to make excuses. Yes, I was sick, and the sickest I’ve been in many years. But I’ve been better for several days. The last two days have been flat-out lazy days that I accomplished almost nothing even though I could have if I’d pushed myself.

One thing I am trying to do is ignore the past and focus on the future. I can’t do anything about lost opportunities yesterday. I can get my time in today and do the best I can.

I have been thinking about what I would have done in a real job during this time. Every job I’ve had has a rule about needing a doctor’s excuse if you are sick more than 3 days. I’ve always felt that if I’m well enough to go to the doctor, I’m well enough to go to work. I also feel that it’s silly to go to the doctor if you’ve been sick only three days; I didn’t go until I’d been sick a week. Besides, who wants to spend three hours in a germ-ridden urgent care waiting room?

What would I have done in a regular job? I would have done what everyone does – I would have gone to work sick. I would have gotten everyone else sick, and done a lousy job on top of that. How would that have helped things?

I have also thought about the idea of busywork. The other jobs I’ve worked all have some kind of busywork: filing, data entry, weighing test tubes, etc. It’s work that needs to be done, but doesn’t require much attention. It’s the perfect kind of thing to do on days you just aren’t at 100%. The thing I found with my freelance programming was that there was no busywork. It required my full concentration all the time. I’m finding the same thing with writing. I kept trying to find things to do while I was sick, even things as simple as reading the writer forums I like. And yet, I couldn’t do even that.

In freelance, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. There are no excuses, no crutches that let you slide by now and then. I actually happen to like that. I don’t want to get paid if I’m not working to my full potential. However, it can make things hard during times like this.


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