To think, it all started with kind of crappy Chinese food.
About six months ago, I got the above piece of paper in a fortune cookie. It struck me so much that I immediately taped it to my medicine cabinet in my bathroom. I read it every single day, but it wasn’t until very recently that I actually started organizing my life around my dream of writing.
If you haven’t figured out by now that my big passion in life is writing, well then, you’re kind of a moron, aren’t you?
A lot of my previous jobs focused heavily on my writing abilities. Some were challenging, some were not. Some started as a challenge, but then became so absolutely mind numbing that the thought of actually writing for that job anymore made me physically ill. In the back of my mind, I always wanted to have the freedom to write what I wanted and the variety to keep me constantly challenged.
Also, I really enjoy working with no pants on and most office jobs frown on you coming into work in your underoos.
At some point in the middle of last year, I was finally able to admit out loud that I’m actually a very talented writer and I deserved to have a job where my talent was appreciated. But, you know, as I wrote about before, writing is a hard skill to sell when it comes to well-paid gainful employment and, although there’s a lot of contract work for writers, finding that golden nugget job that challenges me and pays me what I deserve to make is a pretty hard thing to achieve. This is when I started toying around with the idea of becoming a freelance writer.
However, there were a few aspects of being self-employed that really scared the shit out of me. The first was the self motivation aspect. At all my other jobs, I suffered from boredom and sort of a disconnect from my work when it wasn’t challenging, so I would get totally unmotivated. The second, most terrifying, aspect was bookkeeping.
I am not a paperwork person. I hate it. It makes me sweat and sends me straight into a panic attack whenever I have to fill out a new form. I mean, for fuck’s sake, I still have to use my married name on legal documents because I forgot to check a box on my divorce decree (I now have to pay to have it legally changed back to Tidd instead of it being done for free when I got divorced). The thought of keeping track of all the invoices and taxes and bills would send me into a tizzy just thinking about it.
Then, in January, I had the sort of perfect storm of circumstances collide to shove me squarely into the place where I want to be for a long time to come.
- I got fired. There’s a motivator if I ever had one. I had income through unemployment, so I could take the risk to see if freelance writing was right for me.
- I had an amazing friend. My friend, LeVar, of Talk Thirty to Me fame, was integral in pushing me to actually take the plunge and really declare myself a self-employed writer. Without his advice and support, I honestly wouldn’t be doing this today.
- I found incredible bookkeeping software. If you ever decide to strike out on your own, get your ass to freshbooks.com. I can send invoices, track projects, provide estimates and even log the time I work on a project. This site takes all the things I was scared to manage and makes them so simple. Plus, it’s free for the first three clients, so you don’t have to invest anything until you’re sure you’re all in.
- I had a couple people take a chance on me. Without Erika Napoletano and Everett Sizemore, I wouldn’t be writing this blog today. They took a chance on someone just starting out in the freelance world and without that, I never would have gained the footing I have now. Also, because of Everett, I’m getting pretty good at basic HTML code and I think I may take some courses to learn past the basics.
- I found the inner strength to motivate myself. When you are your own boss, there’s no one telling you when you have to work during the day. But you do have clients depending on you. Clients that are paying you based on your performance. Somehow, when performance/delivery and pay are so directly linked, I’ve discovered that I’m a better writer than I have been in a couple years.
So, yeah. If you had asked me 2 years ago whether I would ever work for myself, I would have said no because I thought I would have no motivation and find it hard to finish what I started. What a big surprise to find out that I’m fucking awesome at both of those things when it’s my ass on the line.
So, thanks to job loss and some Chinese food that I think resulted in a pretty miserable evening after I ate it, I’m now living the life I always wanted, but never thought or realized I could actually have.
If my slacker ass can do it, you can too!