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Holiday Planning For Freelance Writers
Someone said to me recently: ‘Freelance writing is not like other jobs; you never really get away.’ She was referring to the fact that I work at home, and it’s always easy to think about the jobs that are waiting for me — or to work instead of doing something social. But her comment also made me think about planning for the Christmas holidays — and other holidays — for freelance professionals. For those of us not in the US, the whole of the Dec 24th to Jan 1st period is a holiday, so being able to join in the fun takes some planning.
Challenges For Freelance Writers
As freelancers, if we don’t work, we don’t earn. Not for us the luxury of knowing we’ll get a paycheck or a Christmas bonus. Instead, if we want to buy presents and enjoy the holidays, we’ve got to do a lot of work — and can sometimes end up taking on too much. I know that’s happened to me in the past. I spent most of last Christmas working — and I vowed that I wouldn’t do that again.
As work at home parents, there are also challenges relating to the school holidays. When our little darlings are at home, much as we love them, we get less work done. Less work means less money and less spending power, which is bad news for everyone.
Achieving Balance In The Writing Life
So how do you balance the demands of parenting, writing and enjoying the festive season with the rest of your family? Here are a few things to try.
First of all, if you don’t already have one, invest in a laptop. This means you can travel to any festive family occasion and still sneak off for an hour to do a little work. Failing that, arrange to grab some computer time anwhere you go. If you have work to do, this will allow you to keep up with it and still enjoy the holidays.
Talk to your clients to find out what their writing needs will be. Some of them may not want to bother uploading content during the holidays, which may let you off the hook. If they do want content, see if you can split it so that you do a bit extra just before the holidays and postpone the rest till after the holidays. Most people expect you to have some down time at this time of year, so make the most of it.
Budgeting Writing Time And Money
Set a cut off date for finishing your outstanding work. Mine is December 21st for new work. If it can’t be delivered by that date, then that’s it till after Boxing Day (December 26th). I plan to spend a couple of days doing the regular weekly writing and blogging tasks ahead of time so that I can take a full week off.
If it matters, let people know that you will be unavailable. For me, this consists of telling people who send me work regularly when I’m working over the Christmas period. I will also put a Christmas vacation responder to let others know that responses to email will be slightly delayed.
Of course, there’s an even easier way to handle holiday time, and that’s to budget for it. When you are setting your earnings targets for the year, assume that there are some times when you won’t be working. That will help you to get a more accurate picture of what your take home should be. If you manage this successfully, it won’t matter too much if you take a week off from time to time.
Finally, don’t get stressed about it. I decided that it was important to make time for my friends and family instead of being attached to my laptop with an invisible — and very short — leash. Sometimes that means that I’m a few dollars short of my target, but I’m happier because of it. Remember to keep things balanced and you’ll have fun during the holidays. You might even find that you’re more successful.