How To Wear The "Freelance Writer" Tag With Pride

Written By: Akshata Shanbagh

“So, what do you do for a living?”
Do you find yourself dreading this question every time you meet someone new? Well, you're not alone. When you introduce yourself as a writer, and a freelance one at that, many people find it hard to believe that writing is indeed what you do to earn a living. They wonder what your “real” job is; the bolder ones might even ask it out loud. By a real job they probably mean the kind of job they themselves do or the kind that they consider to be secure.

A shocking number of people are ready to disqualify your work as insignificant unless it involves one or more boss-like figures breathing down your neck.
And if you enjoy what you do or wear many hats, both of which you're likely to do as a freelance writer, you can imagine people's reactions to that. You could end up being labelled everything from a dilettante to an immature, irresponsible person.
This, as you very well know, is far from the truth. But in the face of such negative comments, you might begin to doubt yourself and think that maybe you should find a “real” job after all.
Even as you consider such a scenario, you know it would mean the death knell for your personality and your sense of purpose in life. The written word is what you thrive on. You feel compelled to write, with or without the promise of monetary rewards or appreciation. But good luck explaining that to people around you.
So, how exactly should you interact with those who don't understand why you do what you do, without sacrificing your confidence and self-esteem? Here are four tips that can help you:

1.    Understand where they're coming from

People who take a mocking, stern, or even a condescending stance when you announce that you're a freelance writer are often secretly fighting their own demons.
Maybe their opinion is strongly coloured by their past experiences. Perhaps they are genuinely concerned that things will not work out for you. For all you know, they might even be sitting on a quashed dream of being a writer themselves.
Whatever their unspoken reasons for negative views about freelance writing, remember that it's not you, it's them. You have every right to live and work as you see fit.

2.    Secure your financial independence

When you come across as a self-reliant individual who can come and go as she pleases, most people think twice about forcing their job-related views down your throat.
Whether you like it or not, the way others perceive you has a lot to do with being financially independent.
At the first chance you get, go about securing your finances so that you have enough money to take care of yourself. This frees up a lot of physical, mental, and emotional energy for you to pursue your writing career openly, and without finding the need to be evasive or secretive about it.

3.    Say it right

When you appear cool and collected, others are usually hesitant to make sweeping statements about you or your work. A lot of the time, using the right tone makes all the difference in how people respond to you.
Do you stumble over the words ‘freelance writer’ because you're hesitant to introduce yourself as such? Be careful, because the other person might be quick to assume that you're not serious about your work or, worse, that it is more of a hobby than anything else.
Think beforehand how you're going to introduce yourself to a stranger. Practice it in front of a mirror if you have to.
When the time comes to talk about your profession, speak firmly and confidently, without mumbling or trying to appear inconspicuous. Now repeat after me: “I'M A FREELANCE WRITER”.

4.    Know that you are enough

Those who warn you away from unconventional careers like writing are often thinking and acting from a place of fear and lack. But you can choose to think differently and not make their fears your own.
Train your mind to understand that no matter what happens, you are enough.
The future is unknown and uncertain, but you will live to see another day. You are tough. You can handle anything that comes your way. As long as you have the will power and the guts to survive, you will.
Let your life and work not be defined by the opinions and experiences of others. Commit new mistakes. Make your own way. In the end, only you have the right to decide whose opinions should matter to you and to what extent.
You must decide which job is “real” enough for you, and if you say freelance writing is, you bet it is!

About the author: 
Akshata is a scanner who explores her multiple interests through writing and drawing. She has recently released her first ebook, From Start To Finish, which is a step-by-step guide on how to create any product. You can find Akshata's digital home at akshata.co

10 comments:

  1. You are correct Akshata, to point out how it is "on them," to adjust their preconceptions to your response.... In the past, when I asked that question and he response was, "I'm a writer," I would joke...., "Aren't we all?" My own response is now, "I write--for money!" I add a slightly bemused attitude or a mysterious tone to my voice for effect. Often this results in character or storyline ideas should I ask more questions. It is not only important not to stumble over saying, "I'm a freelance writer (sounds better than "stringer," at least!)," but also not to stumble over your grammar--especially after making "the confession!"

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  2. @Vartika: Thank you, I'm glad you did :)

    @hunkyBC: Speaking with an air of mystery sounds like a good idea :) I should try it sometime.

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  3. I've never been anything but proud when I say I'm a freelance writer. No one has ever been condescending when I said it either. People are happy that I'm doing what I've wanted to do since I was in the 6th grade.

    Maybe align yourself with more positive people.

    Q

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    Replies
    1. If you have received positive responses all around, that's great!

      Aligning oneself with positive people is good advice, but learning to stay positive even in the company of negative people is equally important, especially when such people form part of our inner circle. It's disappointing how we manage to keep aside hundreds of positive comments and take that single negative one to heart.

      I think it's not a matter of trying to convince anyone of the value of our profession or interests. We just have to learn to accept that there'll be good responses and bad, and take them all in our stride.

      Delete
  4. You know, I've always felt the opposite since I moved into freelancing full-time! As soon as I made the jump, I was bursting at the seams with excitement to be able to say "I'm a freelance writer" to anyone who asked.

    The more I got into freelancing, and writing, the more I fell in love with it as I realized it's just the perfect job for me. I get to wake up when I want, I get to work when and where I want (as long as I have wifi!), I have time to do normal things, like laundry and errands and catch an occasional TV show, and it's awesome.

    Most respectfully, and even though I enjoyed reading it, I have to disagree with every single point in your blog post!

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    Replies
    1. It's great that you have had the best of experiences as a freelance writer. But there are people who haven't, so I guess it's not really about agree or disagreeing here, it's more about learning how to handle the negative experiences.

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  5. In my experience, people are fascinated with what I do and have often sought me out to have extended conversations on how I make money in the freelancing world. More and more people are willing to at least supplement their steady jobs with freelance assignments. For a digital content writer such as myself having a professional website ( not just a blog) and a business card really helps answer questions even in conversations held in social scenarios.

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    Replies
    1. Not everyone is negative about freelancing or writing, there are those who're fascinated by it. And you're right about having a professional website and a business ready. It is a solid way to handle those social scenarios well.

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  6. I have been a montessori teacher for seven years and a content writer for two years. It is wiith great pride that i tell im a content writer the replies to these have always been like hey cool, superb, wonderful and all the rest of it. Freelancers rock, many even ask how they can become like us!

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