I recently transitioned from corporate-employed writer to self-employed freelance writer and I’ve noticed some expected and unexpected positive changes. This is a move that many writers who work as full-time employees have thought about at least a hundred times and many have actually made the jump. There is a lot of information available on the Internet about moving from employee to freelance writer, so I won’t repeat what is already available.
Instead, I present five changes that I’ve noticed in my personal journey as a writer that you may want to keep in mind if you are a writer considering making a similar move.
1 – I Was in a Writing Rut
As an employee for the same company for nearly ten years, I adapted my writing to the requirements of the company. I got into a writing rut. In hindsight, this seems to have been a common, practical approach designed to help ensure success in a corporate environment. Every writer has an editor, and if you work for a company with a demanding, authoritarian culture like I did, upper management is the ultimate editor. I learned to adapt to management’s preferred style, and ended up writing to appease the bosses’ desires. I never noticed it until I freed myself but now I see that over time, my writing got stale.
Without the presence of an upper management editing function with its own ideas and preferences, I no longer have to write in a prescribed style to please my bosses. I am free to write the way I think is best for each piece or project.
2 – I Want to Write Again
This change came as surprise to me.
As an employee, I regularly worked nine-hour days on top of a commute in heavy traffic. Every day. Then it was constant rounds of changes and revisions at the whims of upper management amid an emotionally draining environment. I had many fine coworkers and friends on the job, but the politics and culture of the company had an overall negative effect on my daily life. The net effect was that at the end of the day, I wanted nothing to do with writing. I was burnt out.
Now that I am the master of my own schedule, with no grinding commute or daily corporate stresses, I have discovered new motivation to write. I actually want to write again and the grinding burnout has evaporated.
3 – New Ideas
This is another pleasant surprise.
As result of escaping the corporate rut and rediscovering the urge to write, I am coming up with new ideas. The ideas arrive easily and more frequently, and I find myself eager to jot down thoughts and ideas as I get them about different subjects. After years of being closed down, my idea factory has been reopened.
4 – Clients Treat Me with Respect
Many freelance writers will attest to this change – I’m treated like the expert instead of a flunky. I am respected and my skills are respected. I’m no longer expected to kowtow to the whims of upper management, blindly obeying the bosses’ decrees. Okay, I’ll admit that I was never one who enjoyed being told how to write by managers who could not write. I can tell you that I got into frequent arguments with my boss about written content. Now if I disagree with something, my clients take my opinion seriously. Even if they do not agree with me, they listen.
If you work for a company with top-notch management and they respect your skills and contributions as a writer, you are very fortunate indeed. Of course everybody’s experience is different. But I noticed this change right away.
5 – Less Stress!
Taken together, these changes have had the happiest effect of all: less stress. I no longer have to deal with daily traffic jams, corporate politics, a demanding culture, crushed emotional investments in projects, demanding bosses. I have both a happier professional existence and a happier life.
I won’t deny that there are stresses related to the financial aspects of writing as a freelancer. You have to earn enough money to live and pay your bills and find affordable medical insurance. The hours you work as a freelance writer are no longer tied to a 9-5 (or 8-6!) job and you work when you must to deliver the goods to your clients, at any time of day. These are real issues, and are often difficult to solve.
Fortunately I am one of the lucky ones, having prepared myself financially for this day and with access to medical insurance. Even so, if I were struggling to make a living as a free agent, I would still enjoy the work a lot more.
As a writer, the move from full-time employee to self-employed writer has been a very positive change.