You Can’t let the Whole World be Your Job
This is something it took me a long time to figure out as a freelance writer and developer, and it’s a mistake I still make much too often.
You can’t let the whole world be your job.
What I mean by that is you can’t allow every place, every time, and every contact to be work-related. Yes, you may be someone who gets freelance work done at 7am, 9pm, or 3 am depending on how your insomnia impacts you. But you can’t let your expectation be that you should be working at all those times.
Similarly you may well need to have your home workspace overlap with your personal space (though the tax benefits of a home office are not to be underestimated), but you can’t allow ALL your home space to be a place where work often gets done.
It’s great to have friends in the industry… but you need to have conversations and activities and interactions with them beyond things you do for your career.
The reasons for needing to at the very least carve out SOME time and space that is kept separate from work concerns are many and varied, but they can be boiled down to one basic idea.
Sometimes you don’t want to go to work.
Now, whether you can spare the time off, get vacation time, can take a mental health day, or need to play hooky is beyond the scope of this article. The important thing is, if you don’t want to go to work, and you have allowed your entire life to be defined primarily by your work, then you don’t want to get up and engage with life.
And that’s a problem.
Burnout, depression, imposter syndrome, introversion, and even panic attacks are not uncommon in creative writing careers. To survive, you need to know there is a way to exist outside your job.
Yes, your email may be ubiquitous, and your editors may always have a question (or a panicked demand) asking about changes, availability, late projects, and so on. But you can decide there are hours when that isn’t your problem. Time when, even if everything is on fire, you get to read a book, or sit on the balcony and listen to the rain. Whatever works for you.
I can’t tell you how to achieve work/life balance. There’s no magic number of hours per day, or per week, you need to take away from being “on call” to your career. But you need to know you CAN take time away. Subconsciously, your brain needs to be able to grasp the idea that after this project, this crunch time, this weekend, you have a place you CAN get away.
Because, to quote one of my editors, you are no use to anyone dead.
Speaking of My Career
I have a Patreon. It’s how I justify taking the time to write a lot of this material on my blog. I’d love your support.