Passion, Shmassion.

You remember that writing course I told you guys I was taking?

A quick glance at today’s assignment tells me it’s going to be a doozy. Why, you ask?

Because it’s all about finding your passions.

You see, I’m a person of very few passions, if any. Certainly not many I could fill a whole blog writing about. I care about plenty of things, sure — the environment, social welfare, common freakin’ decency — but I don’t think I know enough about or am passionate enough about any of them.

What does passion even really mean, any way?

People say that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. That if you follow your passions, you’ll always be happy. But that assumes that you’re passionate about something you can make money doing!

True enough, I’ve followed what I guess you could call my passion for proper grammar (yes, I’m that weird) and I’m making a living as a writer, proofreader and copy editor. I often think I should spend more time writing about how to become a freelancer; to help other people with creative minds take the leap from corporate cog to sole proprietor. But if I’m being honest…

I have no idea how to do that.

I mean, I’m doing OK, don’t get me wrong. But I have a lot of cushions that many others don’t, and I haven’t felt the fear of missing rent because I was unable to secure enough work. I have a husband with a good job who values my happiness higher than any income, and a good network of former coworkers and friends who send work my way. How can I sit on my throne of lies telling people how to make it as a freelancer? I’m not making it on my own; I have a tremendous amount of help and support.

And the real truth is — I wouldn’t know how to pitch a publication or other service to save my life. I’m a terrible sales person, particularly when it comes to selling myself. It’s part of why I’m taking this class in the first place, to figure out what exactly I have to offer and how to offer it.

Maybe that’s how everyone figures out this freelance gig, who knows. Maybe I’m not the only person who has no idea what she’s doing 80 percent of the time.

But even if that’s the case, do we really need another case of the blind leading the blind?

So I turn away from freelance advice, and back to the drawing board. What else do I care about?

It’s not an easy question to answer.

I love dogs, but no one needs another person rambling about how dogs are awesome.

I love food, but I would never even attempt to enter the food blog arena. Talk about shouting into a void.

I love beer, but you can only write about that so many times before your family tries to stage an intervention.

I suppose you could say a growing interest of mine is female health education. Call it a symptom of what I’ve been going through for the last year, but it’s truly appalling the amount of misinformation out there about the female anatomy. Girls who are lucky get a quick gloss over it all during sex ed; girls who aren’t so lucky, who don’t even have sexual education in their schools, are often left clueless as to how their bodies actually work.

It’s embarrassing that we leave such important information out of our education. That because it has to do with a woman’s insides (EEK! GASP! CLUTCH PEARLS!) it’s best if we don’t talk about it at all and just hope for the best down the line.

So yeah, maybe I’m passionate about that. But I’m not a physician; writing blog after blog about female reproductive education isn’t going to boost my business in any way. Hell, depending on the person, it might even chase some clients off. That’s certainly not what I’m going for.

Back to the drawing board, again.

Most likely, this blog will always be a place for these random musings to come out, a place where you’ll just hear me blab (and therefore will never get many hits). But I’m working toward finding the right voice for my business blog, and it’s not been easy.

That’s freelancing for you. Too much time to think and not enough direction.

Heh. Maybe it should be a freelancer tips blog after all.

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Half a year, half a lifetime away.

I can’t believe it.

It’s been six months (and change) since I became a freelancer.

Since I last wrote, I’ve secured a retainer with one of my clients! Negotiating a retainer for marketing and content services has been key to making this freelance thing work – it provides a steady baseline of work (and income) so we know at minimum what I’ll be contributing to the budget for the next few months. This has been a huge weight off my shoulders, and I’m thrilled to be working with this team to get the company off and running.

Aside from that, I’m afraid life has been mostly uneventful. As you probably know from the news, this winter has been a doozie, dumping snow and ice all over the midwest. For me, that means getting out even less than normal, because let’s face it: if I don’t have to go anywhere when there’s snow and ice on the ground, I’m not going anywhere.

To be honest, I cannot even begin to describe how ready I am for the spring. The winter has been downright depressing, sucking the motivation right out of me.  I feel lazy and lethargic and I go to bed every night feeling somewhat unaccomplished. But today, today is different. It’s right around 60 degrees and I have the windows open, took the dogs for a walk and actually have some desire to clean the house.

It’s crazy what a little fresh air can do for the soul.

Evidently it even makes me think writing a complete blog post about absolutely nothing is a good idea.

Oh well. Here’s hoping the motivation sticks around and I come up with something better to say next time.

Day 85: And here I was doing so well…

Turns out when there’s actual work to be done, the blogging just has to wait.

Feast or famine, folks, that’s the name of the game.

But I’m certainly not complaining. The fact that business has picked up and I now am struggling to find the time to focus on writing here is a good thing. Pair that up with a couple wonderful weekends spent with family and I’m one happy little camper.

This past weekend, my family got together at my parents’ house to sort of close out the good-weather seasons with a big camp out.

Or at least, that was the plan. Turns out only my husband and I actually camped out in a tent. Not sure whether I’m happy he talked me out of sleeping in a cozy bed in the house, but I digress…

Saturday was absolutely gorgeous, and the perfect weather for camping. It was bright and sunny all day long, warm enough to relax in shorts and a tee shirt, but cool enough at night to warrant the campfire, jeans and a hoodie that I believe define the true camping experience. My brother in law and a family friend busted out the guitars – totally normal – around the campfire and we all sang along.

No. None of us can sing. Pretty sure we scared off any and all wildlife within a 3-mile radius.

And it was fantastic.

On Sunday, we decided to stick around long enough to watch some football, flipping constantly between the Bengals vs. Buffalo and Green Bay vs. Baltimore games. With nail-biter wins from both the Bengals and a Packers, we headed home to enjoy the last few hours of the weekend.

Weird. Haven’t said that in a while.

Now, it’s back to work!

Day 71: Focus

Ever have one of those days where you just completely lack focus?

If you’re an employee somewhere, drifting off into a day of Facebook, Pinterest and Buzzfeed can get you fired. When you’re freelancing, it means you made no money.

Oops. Today was one of those days.

Turns out, the disappointment I feel in letting myself down is worse than I ever felt for any employer (eek, I hope none of my former bosses are reading this). It’s an awful push and shove because while there’s no one here making me work, do I really want to get into the habit of disappointing myself?

I find that when I’m lacking focus in one area of my life  – and usually it’s the one that needs my attention most pressingly – I focus my energy and enthusiasm elsewhere. There are always a million things drawing on our resources, and until someone finally nails that whole space-time continuum thing, we’re all stuck with only 24 hours a day to do it in.

A typical day of needs & efforts goes something like this:

I need to write a blog post. What’s that dogs? You need to go for a walk? Fiiiiiiine, I can certainly take a quick 45 minute walk around the neighborhood… it will open up my creative side to get a little fresh air!

I need to cook dinner. Nothing sounds good though, so I should take a quick look at Pinterest to see what I can come up with … 2 hours later … “babe, wanna just order pizza?”

I need to work out. Let me just go put my glass in the dish- oh. Looks like it’s still full of clean dishes. I should probably empty that out and go ahead and reload it while I’m at it. This towel is dirty, though, so I should start a load of laundry. You know what they say, a cluttered house, cluttered mind!

I need to put together that invoice. But before I get to business, I should go hop on the treadmill. That will really wake me up and let me refocus on what’s important!

The list goes on and on, but you get the gist. It’s not always that I’m being completely lazy, but I’m certainly not always focused where I should be. Without the structure every day of being away from the home, it’s hard to let those other duties just slide by.

Do you have those problems? How do you maintain your focus if you’re not under someone’s watch? 

I know that it’s up to me to build and maintain my own schedule, which is one of the great catch-22s of freelancing. Just like a tree in the woods, if a freelancer gets off track, and there’s no one there to notice, does it matter?