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A Day In the Life of a Freelancer

Or how to not get paid for a tonne of work...

Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

I more or less ended up falling into freelancing quite by accident, even though writing for a living was what I’d always wanted to do. I came to my present job after a half-arsed sending of my CV to a content mill, not even thinking they’d bother to read it—but they did, offered me an interview online and a quick writing test and a few days later I got the job. Sometimes all the planning in the world can’t prepare you for that kind of thing happening.

I’d always imagined the daily life of a writer to be quite an exciting thing—you read all those fantastic “My Kind Of Day” articles in the Sunday supplements, with a photo of some famous journalist or writer, staring wistfully out of the window whilst sitting at a pine table in their kitchen, cafetiere of coffee beside them, Ginger Tom on their lap (Ginger Tom being the local sex offender). The pieces always go something like this:

“I rise around 6.30am, the air is so invigorating at that time. I light a Capstan Full Strength and cough my guts up for half an hour before making a Mellow Birds and sitting down at the Olivetti for an hour before my partner Ludo, rises. 

He warms me a pain-au-chocolat and brings me a cup of Lapsang and we talk about world events until he decides he needs to shoot up. I write until lunchtime, whence I have a bowl of Vegetable soup and go into my local village to browse around the markets and pick up some inspiration for my latest novel You’re An Arsehole Freddy Danvers by people watching. 

Freddy, the main protago- prataga- prot…character is based on a lovely old man who sells Gas Lighters 3 for £1 next to the haberdashery stall… I return home and make dinner, then write again until it’s time for David Attenborough or something with Huw Edwards…” You’re An Arsehole Freddy Danvers is published by Hodder and out at the end of the year.

You read it and get all envious. Then you suddenly get into writing for a living and realise what it’s actually like…

“Get up about 7.30am, switch on your phone so clients can contact you, check your e-mail for contracts, there aren’t any. 

Panic slightly. 

Make tea, breakfast, watch BBC Breakfast News or Daybreak if you want to forget there’s anything going on in the world other than Lorraine Kelly’s greasy hair. 

Check e-mail again. Still no work. 

Check the job boards, pick up a small piece on "25 Facts About Beetroot You Might Not Know." Bash it out on the keyboard, spell-check it, make sure it’s SEO optimised, send to the client. Earn 1.25 Euros for it. 

Check e-mails again, still no more jobs. Decide to go out to supermarket for a few bits. Accidentally leave phone at home. Walk back from supermarket, check phone, 5 missed calls and 17 new e-mails all wanting pieces written before 5pm. 

Look at clock. 4.58pm. 

PANIC AND DO ALLLLLLLL THE WRITING. 

Wake up at 7pm in a daze having leaned on the keyboard and typed 5,000 in what looks like Serbo-Croat. 

Get in bath. Get into bed. Check e-mails. 

Client, who you wrote "25 Facts About Beetroot You Might Not Know" has e-mailed asking for revisions. 

Laugh cynically. 

Do the revisions. 

Send it back asking for another 1.25 euros for time incurred. Client e-mails back saying "no." 

Go to bed. 

Pray that someone gives you an advance to write a novel.”

If you recognize that, or know someone who may recognize it, then there are helplines available or you can visit the Freelancer’s Counselling And Samaritan Service website for more information. 

Please never be tempted to overdose on keywords. Keywords die in hot cars. Keywords are for life, not just for Christmas. Keywords maketh the man.

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