Reality Bites

My first fortnight of trying to be a freelance writer has gone something like this:

Week One

Spend hours on laptop, reading about how to be a freelance writer. First stop, read lots of magazine articles to get an idea of what editors want. Find most of the articles boring or overly sensationalist. Get cross. Next, try to think of articles to write. Read the news. Find stuff which annoys me. Have a few half-baked ideas of articles I can write about stuff in the news which annoys me.

Write a GCSE-level article about passive smoking. Send it to the Guardian Health section when I should have sent it to Britons Against Passive Smoking (BAPS)* or some such unheard-of publication who are desperate for anything, not one of the biggest broadsheets.

*This publication does not exist. In case that needs pointing out.

Email a few magazine contacts about the blog. One wants me to send a sample post. I send the one which made one of my friends cry. Don’t hear anything back. Perhaps it made the editor cry too. In a bad way.

Pitch my ME piece I’m working on to Good Housekeeping. They very nicely tell me they don’t want it. At least they bother to reply.

Brain goes into overload. Everything I think about becomes a potential piece of writing but I feel too wired to actually write anything. Feel the pressure to come up with something soon as I need to get published and paid. Read freelancers’ stories about how they got started. Most of them go something like “…and after a year of writing for free I got my first paycheck for £200!” Despair.

Send an unashamedly desperate Facebook message to someone I dated a few times before I became a hermit, asking if he has any writing contacts. He does but not in the relevant areas. His advice: you can’t service a mortgage on writing. He’s right.

Week Two

Decide to go back to work next month. Writing seems to be a heck of a lot of work for peanuts. I do enjoy it though. Maybe it’s the masochist in me. I just can’t afford to be a masochist right now.

Potter about. Wonder if I can do a surgery lying down.

Coming next: My return to work plan and whether I manage to stick to it.





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