On the first day of the rest of my life I played golf. I thought it would make a statement, a symbolic act of how I’d spend my life from now on. My girlfriend laughed.
Later that week I returned home sunburnt after an afternoon spent watching county cricket at Lords. Again, she laughed, but a little less. There was also a hint of annoyance in there.
Then, the moment any goodwill deserted me. She decided to work from home one morning, only to find that her freelance boyfriend was still in bed at 10.30.
Since then, I’ve had to do a lot more work around the house. No matter how often I tell her I need to read in bed for research, her sympathy has remained at an all time low.
In many ways, being freelance feels like being back at university. For a few hours each week I have to leave the house to go and work, then for the rest of the time I’m left to my own devices.
Much of my time is structured around sport. It’s the main constant in my life – whether that’s cricket matches, futsal training or gym sessions.
More of my time is spent with mates. Without full time work, I no longer feel guilty about skipping an evening of writing in favour of a social event.
If anything, I’m now writing less. Previously I’d managed to get myself into a routine of working my office job from 9-6 (though rarely making it in for 9), writing for an hour at lunch, then juggling the four different manuscripts I was working on all evening until the early hours. I learnt to survive on five or six hours of sleep a night.
It didn’t take long for my body to adapt once more to needing my university staple of nine hours a night. I feel much healthier for it: less run down, more proactive, more free. The extra exercise helps. Every day I’m now able to run, go to the gym or practise yoga – luxuries I could rarely afford in full time work.
There are problems with relying on freelance writing. Mainly it’s that the money is so irregular. An advance comes in that needs to last for months. An article is commissioned and then nothing else comes up. Schools cancel visits. So to lessen the burden, I’ve taken on bits of work in other areas.
Currently, I’m committed to seven hours of coaching and half a day of social media management a week. That pretty much covers my rent, and the rest of my time is then split between writing and helping to grow Floodlit Dreams.
The benefit of having few regular commitments is being able to say yes to opportunities at short notice. Lots of cool stuff has come up, but much of that cool stuff has failed to materialise. There’s even been a chance to have another crack at professional football in a foreign country. I think my girlfriend is warming to the idea…
With the money that I’ve invoiced for so far, I can certainly say that going freelance has been successful. The only trouble is that money invoiced doesn’t necessarily equal money paid. I’m guessing that a lot of my time this year is going to be spent chasing up unpaid work.
As it stands, however, I’ll be able to give freelancing a go for a second year. There are things I miss about working full time. I miss working with mates. Miss absorbing others’ creativity. Miss being inspired by colleagues and their work. Miss hearing about their successes and all of the other little things that make up their lives.
But every time I think back to the social side of the office, I’m reminded of the routine, the same tube journey at the same time, the same office politics, the same desk every day, the same client relationship.
Though there are plenty of things I miss, there aren’t enough of them to make me want to go racing back.
I hope this new life really is the rest of my life. All I need now is a midweek golf partner…