School of Hard Knocks

I’d been thinking a lot about how to start my first column and introduce myself to you. I’d pitched this column as a fly-on-the-wall account of my career transition from full time employment to freelancing building on the Beginnings article you might have read in Issue 1. I was going to talk about my wins, fails, and how I was navigating the creative and freelance arena.

What I didn’t expect was for my first column to reflect on mistakes already. And some big ones. Enter the reminder that you’re still very much a novice at this Claire.

Mistake number 1:  if you’re going to write about someone, ask for their permission first even if you truly believe what you’ve written isn’t going to be an issue.

Mistake number 2:  have someone read your work to check whether it makes sense and for grammar, punctuation etc. before publishing.

My first mistake is painful and personal; the second mistake grates me the most because I know it.  In my day job I check other people’s work and others check mine. We all know that we’re often too close to our own work and can’t see the wood for the trees so I don’t know why I thought it was any different this time.

I’m going to blame a behavior, a trait that is a positive and a negative.  The in-the-moment behaviour that has me rushing headlong into things without thinking of the consequences. The ‘jump before I leap’ attitude that I talked about in my Beginnings article. It’s not helped many times and certainly hasn’t helped on this occasion. Being told about and seeing my mistakes felt like a slap in the face and the euphoria of seeing my article in disappeared instantly. It’s also left me doubting myself. I’ve read many a freelancer talk about the need to have a thick skin in this industry but I attribute that need for when you receive criticism of your work in relation to topic, argument or style, not to mistakes that have been my own doing.

I’ve learnt my lesson the hard way both personally and professionally but a lesson it is and I shall dust myself off, chin up and move on. After all the deliberating and agonising over the last few weeks about what to write in this column, I’ve inadvertently given myself a topic to talk about. It’s a very, very thin silver lining and I’ll take it.

Not enough hours in the day

Something I’ve been struggling with and thinking about this month is how I am going to do my full time job, writing and turn it into something sustainable. It’s well documented that building up your own business or changing career takes time, years in some cases, and invariably you have to continue to do a full time job on top of working all the other hours and weekends to build a new business up.

Working from home, and with a slightly less hectic role due to changes in business priorities has certainly allowed me to start exploring but since I started looking, connecting with people and talking about projects it has felt all consuming already. I’m only one month in!  I’m trying to snatch time to look at links, articles, respond to people but crucially I need time to think about the areas I want to focus on. I might be missing out on an exciting opportunity but I really need to be honest with myself about what I can take on with a full time job and what I really should be saying yes to. I also spend a lot more time in front of my laptop, a disadvantage of working from home that means I don’t want to look at a screen in the evenings. I want to go outside and have my one hour of exercise, relax or simply just do nothing. But I could miss out on an opportunity, I have FOMO!

Do you ever feel torn? How do you find a balance or do you struggle? I’d love to know.

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