Freelancing in times of uncertainty

No one I know is experiencing business-as-usual right now, and given that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, attempts to do so are likely to be counter-productive. We can’t know what will happen or how it will affect us or what, ultimately, our businesses will look like when it’s over but we can take some steps now to build some resiliency in our work (not to mention our personal lives).

A couple of thoughts about this:

  1. People will remember you being flexible right now. In normal times you may keep the deposit when a project is canceled (for example) but these are not normal times. People are scared, losing their jobs, worried about their health or that of their loved ones. If you can be one less cause of anxiety, do so.
  2. Restrict your news window. The news has been changing rapidly over the past few weeks and certainly before undertaking any significant action you should be aware of new developments. But for most of us, spending too much time following the news can lead to anxiety, depression, and an inability to act. Given that there is very little most of us can do but stay home and not put others at risk, watching the news 24/7 is not healthy. Give yourself a limited amount of time each day, perhaps a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes in the afternoon, to stay apprised of the situation. Almost none of us need more than that and it’s better for our mental health to step away from it.
  3. Give your days some structure. Even people who have long experience working from home are experiencing disconnect right now, finding it hard to concentrate, etc. So, give yourself goals and tasks for each day, even minor ones like returning emails.
  4. Provide your brain with some distractions that are actually useful to you. Bingeing Netflix gets tiresome after a while. Try some infrastructure tasks, like organizing the resources you use for edits. Practice your DE skills by writing an evaluation of a novel you’ve just read (not for the author’s edification but for your own). Create an editing checklist, organize files, read (and take notes) about craft in genres you’re interested in editing. Tasks that you normally consider boring may be just the thing you need at the moment.
  5. Diversify in a logical way. Right now, writers may want help telling their stories to local news media or may need coaching check-ins rather than straightforward ms edits. If you can adapt and learn new skills, they can be valuable assets for the rest of your career.
  6. Stay in touch with colleagues. I have a weekly check-in with a colleague which is rapidly turning into a lifeline during these challenging times. Many of us want to turn inward during times of uncertainty but staying connected with a few trusted friends and colleagues can help you steer through troubled waters.

More from Club Ed

New! Seminar in Conflict (for fiction DEs)! For information on this and other classes (including self-paced), click here.

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Plus: The Club Ed Guide to Starting and Running a Profitable Freelance Editing Business is now available!