Finding the fun in freelancing

Over a year since I started freelance writing, I’m getting to the point where I’m really interested in all of my work. Don’t get me wrong, from the start I was more interested in writing anything than being back in an office, trying to improve working systems for people who didn’t want to change. But now, now the writing is almost all on topics I’m actually passionate about.

Statue of Cromwell in St IVes, Cambridge - not a dude you want to mess with
Statue of Cromwell in St Ives, Cambridge – not a dude you want to mess with

This afternoon I’ll be working on a biography of Oliver Cromwell, one of the most fascinating figures in English history. A guy who went from nobody to king in all but name, and who was central to the most dramatic upheavals England’s ever seen.

Once that’s done I’ll be writing fifteen articles on different bits of British history, including some personal favourites like the Diggers and the Chartist movement. It’s not all working class radicals  – I’ll also be covering the First Crusade and Thomas Becket‘s murder – but I’m a real sucker for reformers.

I also have a regular gig writing management articles, which isn’t so firmly in my super-keen zone but is useful learning for a one-man-business. And sometime soon I expect to be editing roleplay sourcebooks, which means that I have to read the core books for professional purposes – hardly a hardship.

All of this comes from a decision I made a while back. I realised that applying for projects that paid better but didn’t interest me was trapping me in the same mental place as my old job. Except that now facing tasks that killed my enthusiasm meant I put them off. I wasn’t actually getting paid better, because I spent so long avoiding the work and was slower once I got to it. And the experience I was building up would mostly help get more gigs I didn’t really want.

So now, as far as possible, I only bid on work that interests me. It pays worse now, but it still pays, and it means I’m getting the right experience and contacts. Over time, what I can charge for this work will go up. And meanwhile I’m actually having fun working, which was the whole point in the first place.

We too easily get trapped in doing the work that we think we ought to instead of the work that we want. So if you’re not content with your day job then look at what you want to do and ask ‘how can I get there?’ Maybe it’ll take some sacrifices along the way, but isn’t it worth it in the end to be happy?