On the joy of autonomy & the responsibility of freelancing
Right now, it’s 23:09 on Thursday, 17 June 2021. I’m blasting music in my bedroom and singing along. Sitting up in bed and chair dancing. An hour ago, I started working on the second issue of my Tree Tales series – creative non-fiction books for my nephew. These books bring together trees & dinosaurs, because those are our special interests (well, two of them).
I wouldn’t be able to do this if I were still full-time employed, because I’d be stressing about getting to sleep.
I’ve made Thursdays into a mini weekend. It’s my day off. Actually, I’ve ended up working today, and last Thursday too, but the day has still had a different quality to it. I’ve kept a ‘don’t do it if you don’t feel like doing it’ kinda feeling to my activities on Thursdays. And that makes a big difference.
Being my own boss
Simultaneously, I have a couple of projects on that have a fixed price attached to them. Which means that I’ve chosen to do as much work as I need to do in order to deliver them. Which means, sometimes, working when I’d rather not be working. Still, I feel a much closer, and more wholesome, connection to my work. It’s a bit like growing your own food. It’s hard work, but deeply satisfying, and leads to a deeper appreciation of what I get out of it.
I like that I’m not abdicating the responsibility of these kinds of decisions.
I do struggle with deciding whether to take on, or seek, certain kinds of work or not. I’m trying to go with my gut. Because if I’m honest with myself, often I know that something doesn’t interest me. For example, if my first instinct is ‘that sounds boring’, and my second thought isn’t ‘but it could be good because….’ then it’s definitely time to Just Say No!
I feel so lucky that there are so many things that are totally fascinating to me. This is definitely an ADHD superpower. Like, I have so many interests. And I love novelty. And there’s so much abundance. Yay!
Navigating autonomy & protecting my free time… from myself!
I still want to enjoy writing daily, and be outside daily too, and that hasn’t been happening. Today, Thursday, is the first day I’m writing – outside of workshops – since Sunday. Mostly because a workshop series I’ve been working on with friends for 6 months is finally in the last stages of delivery. So, it’s been full-on… lots of emotional growth too. Plus, my writing residency is just starting, simultaneously. So, intense times. Fun, tho!
I like that I have my week organised so that most of my work with/for other people is Monday – Wednesday.
Thursday is for decompressing and starting a slow slide into the weekend.
On Thursday, I thought I hadn’t done any writing this week. It’s only because I’ve been reflecting today that I remembered that I did loads of writing, actually. I’d just forgotten. Really glad I’m keeping track, because otherwise I’d be wrestling with trying to be compassionate towards myself about a failure that didn’t even happen!
Highlight: Nature writing residency! 🏆
Woo-hoo, I can finally talk about my writing residency.
This is the first time I’m being paid to write stuff that’s solely for the purpose of my creative expression. I still can’t quite believe it, to be honest. I’m overjoyed about it. Like, SO FULL OF JOY. And doing it as a job share is The Best.
Creating nourishing & sustaining environments for writing
Here’s what’s been supporting me to enjoy writing.
‘Enjoy writing daily’ challenge
Setting myself this challenge for June is helping me because
- Focus: I have a focus. I’ve made it clear to myself that this is a priority for me.
- Tracking progress: Which means I can look back & feel a sense of achievement, and get little rushes of motivating dopamine!
- I’m tracking my progress publicly on Twitter and in the learning community I’m part of.
- And, I track privately in a daily writing log, in my mood & activity tracker, and in my calendar.
- Reflecting & looking back: I can identify what helps & hinders me with writing.
- For example, Thursday to Sunday it’s much easier for me to write, because I work with/for other people on Mondays to Wednesdays.
- Thursday is my day off, and then it’s the weekend. And I tend to leave all of that time fairly unscheduled, thanks to what I learned about myself from Jaya Ashmore’s unscheduled retreats.
- Even when I work on external projects on additional days (Thursday & Saturday this week), it’s still a small proportion of my day compared with the start of the week
Cowriting communities, 6 hours this week
- Writers’ Hour, up to 4x daily on weekdays, Tue & wed, 3 hours total
- Allographic, every Sunday, 3 hours
I started participating in Writers’ Hour this Tuesday, and so far I’ve done 3 now. Hundreds of writers around the world, writing alongside each other, online. So affirming. I love it.
Writing events, festivals, workshops; over 6 hours this week
Because of the challenge, I’ve been participating in even more writing events than usual. This week, I attended:
- ADHD Babes – Creative Writing Workshop For Black Women & Non-Binary People, Monday, 1 hour
- Write Out: A series of workshops (4) on a sense of place; this week was on Cities, Monday, 1.5 hours
- Obsidian Foundation presents the future of black poetry, Tuesday, 1 hour
- Queer-Bodied Voices – poesiefestival berlin, Wednesday, under 1 hour
- Writing on Nature – XpoNorth2021, Thursday, 1 hour
- The Nature of Light: a nature-writing workshop, Saturday, 1.5 hours
Also, live tweeting and/or sharing extracts from stuff I create in workshops is motivating for me as well.
On being appreciated & joy
Words of affirmation
One of my friends and freelance colleagues thanked me for both my “insightful questions and thoughtful silence”. And I feel so seen. Like, yes. Exactly. Yes!
Often folks really undervalue attention. Not just mine, in general.
When folks recognise the value of my attention, I feel good!
Hard cash money
With one of the projects I’m doing, I got a 25% raise because the people managing the project recognised the value of the effort we’re putting in. I feel so moved by this. My previous experience with raises includes stuff like former managers negotiating on my behalf to get me more money, because they know I’m being underpaid, and getting turned down.
Sound advice I got this week
- Trust the body
- Don’t block your blessings
- Protect your energy & desires
And as this instruction: Give offerings to your ancestors today.
Okay, well, that’s pretty clear; stuff to follow up with, then:
- Lama Rod Owens: Seven Homecomings Meditation
- Meenadchi: Family Constellations & Somatic Sessions for Joy
TV I’ve been enjoying lately
- Disenchanted on Netflix — cartoon about a princess, a demon and an elf
- House — unconventional medical drama
Bird comics I love
Can’t wait to have my own place with prints from these artists on my walls.