Anyone can call themselves a freelance writer – just like I can call myself a freelance heart surgeon.
Thing is, I don’t get any work as a heart surgeon. As a freelance writer though, I can barely keep up.
A lot of people ask me ‘What do you actually do?’. It’s hard to say in a succinct sentence, so – for those curious about what I typically do as a freelance writer – here’s a quick breakdown of an average weekday for me.
I tend to wake up pretty early these days as I’m most productive in the morning. I try to avoid my phone for as long as possible, although will eventually turn it on and check emails soon enough. Around 7am I have breakfast, or a light snack if I am going to the gym.
By now I will have turned the computer on and will start replying to emails and prepping whatever writing work I’m doing that day.
On most Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings I tend to go to the gym to do weight training. If not I will start work at 8am.
If I went to the gym I’ll be back by now and will be ready for my main bulk of work. At this time I’ll usually head to one of my favourite cafes, pop my headphones in and get to it. There’s no typical work day, as my projects differ from week to week.
The bulk of my work today is writing text for the website of a new leisure complex opening in Russia (obviously in English – my Russian is shit). However, before I head out, I have a quick Skype chat with the client who updates me on new changes to the website that I need to consider.
At the cafe I’ll spend a few hours working on this project, although my publisher has unexpectedly sent me the proof of my new book. It’s been edited, proofed and formatted and it’s great to see it all take shape with photos and design.
However, there are a few issues with the photos I requested. This means I have to break from my writing work to look for new photos from a different agency, then forward the reference numbers so they can be added to the book. There are some issues with a few areas of text in the book too, but I don’t have time to go through the entire thing, so add it to the to–do list for later in the week.
In addition to the website writing, a different client has just emailed me an urgent page of text they need me to look over. It only takes 15 minutes to read and tweak, and I send it back to them.
I usually have lunch in the cafe I spent the morning in. I try not to do this every day as it ends up being a costly way of eating! If not, I return home and make something simple (scrambled egg, smashed avocado and sourdough toast from Kristy’s Bakery is my usual!).
I’ll try not to work while eating, although if I’m really busy I will eat at my desk.
I find I am the least productive in the early afternoon. So, if I need to go shopping for food, meet a friend for coffee, or sort non-work-related stuff out, this is the time I’ll do it.
Today I am trying to fix my desk chair which has been wobbly for some time. I use glue instead of nails and immediately regret it.
I am back working, spending another few hours on the Russian leisure complex writing, which has taken up a lot of time.
However, I also spend around 45 minutes preparing a press release for an American software company. I do a lot of work for them and if they need something urgently, I’ll try to prioritise it. I’ll edit this later and send it to them for approval.
I’ve spent most of the day writing that website and fatigue is setting in. So I call it a day on that project, ready to pick it up tomorrow where I can finish it off.
I now move onto writing a blog post for this website (which is more of a hobby than actual work) as well as replying to some emails. Perhaps I may send a quick book pitch to a publisher. I have no new books planned at the moment, so like to test the water to see if the interest is there (July 2018 update: I am now working on my fourth book for major British publisher Haynes – more details to follow).
I am usually fed up of staring at a screen by now and, if it’s a Wednesday or a Friday, I head to Titan Conditioning in Swansea University. That’s one of the reasons I love exercise, because it’s one thing I don’t have to do on a computer…
I return home, shower and eat. I need to reply to some emails that have collected over the last hour. These are mainly from people I work with in America (as this is early afternoon for them).
My evening relaxation is usually either watching a few episodes of something lighthearted on NetFlix or DVD (Bob’s Burgers, King of the Hill, American Dad, etc). I only ever watch comedies – I can’t be bothered with depressing dramas or reality TV.
A couple of days a week, I will play Battlefield (1 or 4) online with friends on the PS4. I try to keep this to an hour or two as I have been staring at a screen for long enough in the day. If the mood takes me I’ll also have a can of craft beer, although I don’t drink much during the week.
I’m knackered. I’ll usually check my phone to see if there’s anything urgent from clients (I hope not, because I don’t want to turn my laptop on at this time). It can usually wait until the morning anyway. I usually drift off to sleep by around 10.30pm.
Of course, sometimes I will have a ridiculously busy day where I don’t go to the gym or cafes. On these days I just sit at home in front of the screen from 8am to 8pm and barely move. But then, sometimes I have a quieter few days, where work isn’t flying in. Perhaps on these days I will wake up a little later, go shopping, or meet someone for lunch.
Working for yourself as a freelance writer gives you great freedom, but just as much insecurity and headaches. But I wouldn’t change it!
Hopefully this has given you some idea of what I do on a day-to-day basis. If not, go back and read it again.