6 Drawbacks of a Freelance Writing Career


If you’re wondering about writing full-time, here are six drawbacks of a freelance writing career. These tips aren’t meant to scare you away from writing — they should prepare you to be a successful writer!

Before the tips, check out this poem from Ray White, co-editor of How I Got Published:





The Publication Blues

I’ve queried and networked, till blue in the face

Submitted, submitted all over the place

Read my rejections (and some made me cuss)

“Great concept,” “well written” – “just not right for us.”

 

Then what, I would ask, does it take to succeed?



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If “great concept,” “well written” won’t get me a read

Persistence, it seems, in the face of rejection

Is the only sure path that leads to selection.

 

The odds are quite simple – you will or you won’t

Those who will, do – and those who don’t, won’t.

Fellow scribes, right there are two drawbacks of a freelance writing career: rejection and persistence (though some would argue that persistence isn’t a drawback, it’s a virtue). Click on the book cover for more info about White’s book How I Got Published: Famous Authors Tell You in Their Own Words. And, read on for a few drawbacks of a full-time freelance writing career, read on… 

6 Drawbacks of a Freelance Writing Career

1. Constant writing rejection. At first, the constant rejection or no word at all from editors bothered me. Now, I see it as part of the freelance writing business. Editors are busy and stressed. I get it. And my ideas don’t necessarily fit with the scope or plans for their issue or book list or plans for the future. Or my writing style doesn’t fit. But, as White points out in “The Publication Blues”, you have to buck up and keep querying to get published. Read Tips for Improving Your Query Letters for writing help!

2. Inconsistent assignments. Get this: I just came off a six week stint of NO new assignments. Nothing for six whole weeks – and I was climbing the walls. Luckily I had three articles to work on, two blogs to write for, one new blog to build, and Suite101 (read 10 Reasons to Write for Suite101!) to keep me busy…but that dry spell pretty near did me in. But then I suddenly received two assignments from MSN Health, one from Reader’s Digest, and one from alive magazine – all within a 12 hour period. Hallelujah! And the best part was that only one of those four assignments was based on a query I pitched. The other three were assignments from the editors, dropped into my lap like juicy round purple plums. Yum!

3. Inconsistent paycheques. I’m earning a full-time living as a writer, and I’m meeting my financial goals each month (I’m not earning more than $50,000 a year yet – this is my first year, and I thought I’d set achievable writing goals). But, my cheques for writing aren’t exactly bi-monthly. It helps to have a darling husband – and a little cushion of money to pay the bills – but the inconsistent flow of income is definitely a drawback of writing full-time.

4. Physical seclusion. I live on Bowen Island, and I’ve just learned that writing without human contact (except for darling husband) or venturing off the island for four days in a row is too long. I’ve got some serious cabin fever – and no mall or Chapters or community center to loiter in. That’s definitely a drawback of a freelance writing career in a rural or secluded community.

5. Isolation. I read an article in Psychology Today about how urban dwellers are surrounded by more creativity and energy than rural dwellers…and I believe it. In the city, you have people and styles and personalities and appointments and near-misses and cars honking and drivers flipping and caffeine flowing! On my island, I have tall trees, the ocean, mountains, forest trails, tame-ish deer and meandering roads. It’s beautiful, but there’s not the same energy flow. Living on an small island is a  drawback of a freelance writing career — you definitely have to like being alone, whether you live in a big city or not.

6. Limited time off. This may be more a “Laurie” thing than a true sacrifice of writing, but I don’t take time off. I write every day – and I try to convince my husband that on the weekends, I blog and that’s not work.  It’s blogging. But, I often poke around my writing assignments and queries even on weekends, and I almost never take the whole day off. That’s not really a drawback of freelance writing for me, because I love writing so much.

Do you have any questions or thoughts about these drawbacks of a freelance writing career? Please comment below…and, if you have any tips for overcoming these drawbacks, I’d be happy to read them!



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2 thoughts on “6 Drawbacks of a Freelance Writing Career

  • monica

    Isn’t great having a job that’s good enough to make the sacrifices seem almost forgettable?

    But you’re right, there are sacrifices. For me, the big ones are income, holiday pay, benefits, and teamwork. The money isn’t a big loss – I’d rather be poor in the bank than poor in spirit. But I do miss having “workmates” to take tea breaks with and such. I think human interaction is pretty important to keep those creative juices, so I try to keep up with my former colleagues, and I’ve been meaning to find some kind of writing group in London to hang with. I have also applied to teach part time, and I do some freelance product development for a startup company. Therein lies the beauty of freelancing – you can mix up the work you do and the people you interact with so you never get bored.

    Like you said, what sacrifices? =)