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supernova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-12-07 09:20 AM
Original message
Considering striking out on my own
I've been in corporate and university positions for the past 20 years. One thing that has remained constant is that always in some capacity, I've become the office writer. I wrote letters for my MD bosses, letters for my profs bosses, newsletters at the bank (wrote, edited and distributed). I've written user manuals, hardware maintenance manuals, setup posters, warrantees, and technical updates for the web.

Even won and award or two for my efforts.

But, never has that given my any kind of stability. :crazy: In the past ten years, the longest I've stayed at a job was four years. Three years is typical I don't know, maybe it's me.

All of this to say, I'm much more interested now in developing my own writing practice. I used to just amuse myself with this thought: "Yes, I can freelance!" But after this last contract ended in November, I've taken this idea much more seriously. What if I could really do that? I want more control (the illusion thereof?) over my schedule and the types of writing that I do. I want to get up the next day knowing that I will have a job in the morning, and that the boss really does like me! :-)

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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-12-07 12:05 PM
Response to Original message
1. That's a commendably ambitious undertaking--good luck!
I would love to make a similar move, but reality simply won't let me at this time.

Not to sound flippant, but make sure you have something in mind re: health insurance before you sever your ties with the corporate meat-grinder.

But best of luck in any case!
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supernova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-12-07 12:55 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Well, I'm already non working
at the moment and I don't even have COBRA (its a cost-prohibitive joke AFIC) so that is a problem. I'm checking into whether or not I can afford BC/BS on my own.

It's just that after switching jobs for so many years and not really feeling like I have much to show for it is what makes me think starting my own business is *not any more* risky than simply taking another job, y'know?

Thanks for your reply. I'm not really sure why I wrote it down the way I did, maybe I just wanted a little validation from fellow writers. I knew you all would undstand the allure. :-)
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nosillies Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-12-07 04:29 PM
Response to Original message
3. It's what I do, and it's the best/worst job ever
The magic of it is obvious: be your own boss, work from home, take the assignments you like, etc.

But here's the hard reality: if you like money, if you ever have a bill to pay, if you ever need to see a doctor or take medicine, if you don't like to whore yourself out at times, it can be tough.

You will find at times the self-criticism is worse than anything any former boss could have dished out. You still have co-workers -- they're just called editors now, and they can drive you nuts like co-workers in any other field. You will go through periods where you haven't seen a check in weeks and you have to decide which matters less, water or electricity (unless you have loads of savings to take you through the lean times). And writing too much can take a physical toll on you, as being hunched over a computer all day is good for no one!

Maybe ease into it, with a part-time job somewhere enjoyable (favorite retail store, e.g.) that brings in guaranteed money and a chance for benefits. Then you can slowly back away from the "job" and move further into your "joy" in small increments. Then again, maybe you are the type who is most successful when you jump in full throttle! Think about an approach that would be comfortable for you.

All said, I would encourage anyone to give freelancing a try. The realities may be very difficult, but the job satisfaction level is off the charts!
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supernova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-12-07 06:47 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Do you mind
if I ask what kind of writing you do? What's your subject matter/audience usually?

Thanks for your first-person account. I'm with you about being hunched over the desk. It's definitely not a good thing to do.
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nosillies Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-12-07 07:38 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. The best investment I've made is the money I pay for the gym and yoga classes!
The exercise keeps a writer sane, the mind sharp, and the kinks worked out!

I do a variety of writing. My most regular gig is a travel column that can be found on and on . I do things for mags and papers here and there. (I'd really love to be doing mainly magazine work.) But remember what I said about whoring yourself out? I also write technical training manuals for a variety of companies and industries. Blah. I hate those. I do a lot of stuff that I love and get paid for but get no credit for (script rewrites spring to mind). I've had a contract to write reply letters to complaining customers for one company (horrible). I even write emails and do PowerPoints for business people with poor writing skills. Soemtimes you write whatever it takes to make money.

Feel free to PM me anytime about this if you like.
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mzteris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-13-07 09:42 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. do you mind my asking
where/how you find these gigs? (Not the travel mag ones, but the others - tech manuals, letters, PP, emails, etc.)

I find myself in a position where I need to start doing consulting work again. But, I need to be able to work from home with a flexible schedule.

In my previous life I've written newsletters, correspondence, job descriptions, policies & procedures, legal documents, advertising copy, manuals, resumes - basically a little bit of everything.

I'm not sure where/how to start anymore, though. It's been a while since I've worked - and since I recently moved cross-country I no longer have the contacts I had back home.

I guess I'm feeling a wee bit scared about getting back into the workforce/real world, too. :scared:
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