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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Freelance Writing with Kids, Pros & Cons

Cons of Freelance Writing with Kids
  Children interrupt: whether intentionally or not, if they are around, they will need you every 5-10 minutes, or when they're older, every hour. And when they are not there, often you'll catch yourself wondering what they are doing. Or worse, school calls. Your writing may reflect these constant breaks. Good writing requires solid concentration.
  Freelance writing involves networking, client meetings, administrative tasks, research trips and an extraordinary amount of phone and internet time. Many of these tasks will take you away from home, especially for interviews or live reporting. Will you get a sitter? Have day care? What if your kid has a fever on the day that Paris Hilton has finally agreed to sit down with you?
  Have you ever tried to have a phone conversation around a child? It’s like a beacon instructing them to ask for things, climb you, spill something, kick their sister, or otherwise demand attention. Try adding a frustrated young childless editor on the other end of the line, who really would rather be having a martini, and you’ll see the biggest difficulty about trying to freelance write with kids.

  Pros of Freelance Writing with Kids
  It’s writing. For a living. You get paid to string words into sentences. That’s the best reward.
  Your time is flexible. You can make yourself available to volunteer at a school or recess or to chaperone a field trip, or take a yoga class just to recharge. You can usually pick up the kids whenever they need it, even on those stupid half-days, and you can ferry them to the next event, taking calls during the 45 minute ballet class. As long as you meet your deadlines and the work is good, clients generally won’t care when the work is accomplished. 10pm – midnight is golden time in my house.
  Your child will see you as a good example. Children absorb everything you do, and watching you work will teach them about work ethics, time management, and yes, the importance of writing. Your career will become intertwined with their daily life. Easier than trying to explain that their spelling homework is important because…it is.

Still ready to forge ahead? Good. The most important thing is to plan your days. Schedule everything possible on times when the children are not around so that when they are, you don’t find yourself waving them off as you take a phone call or reply to “just this one” email. Let your phone take messages for you. Schedule a time to reply to email. You’ll be under deadline anyway, so adding a few more alerts on your calendar should feel quite natural.
Most importantly: don’t forget that freelance writing is still writing and it will suck your precious creativity: don’t expect to put in eight hours on an article about the six things you should never wear for an author publicity shot and still have energy to write a chapter of your new novel. Add to this the fact that your kids need you to be “always on” and you’ll see the dilemma. And yet, people do it all the time. 
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