I often talk about my unconditionally supportive family but did you know that I also often have to explain to people, who know nothing about freelancing, what I'm doing with my life right now, like everyone else? If not well now you know. The thing about freelancing is you don't commute everyday, to the same place, at the same time, and it's not exactly the same from one day to the next. This makes explaining what freelancing is, to people who have only ever had "regular," non-independent contractor jobs not the easiest thing in the world.
Explaining what writers "really" do to people who don't really understand what they do, started very early on in my life. I have this grandmother, who shall remain anonymous, that to this day struggles to understand a majority of my life choices, simply because I followed a path that was a bit "different" than the path that literally everyone she knows followed and/ or is currently following. Sometimes we find each other side by side, alone in a room, mostly on special events such as birthdays and holidays, but we also sometimes reunite at random family gatherings, no matter how "special" the event is. It starts with an innocent greeting such as "how are you doing," "what are you up to these days," etc. and then it turns into a well intended moment where my perplexed grandma tries to grasp what's going on with my life. I don't hold it against her, instead I embrace and acknowledge our generational and cultural gap. I guess I decided to tell you that story because every time my grandma and I reunite I get a little bit better at explaining freelancing, and writing overall to anyone that's perplexed about what it really is.
Describe The Job Description Instead Of Saying " I freelance," or "I'm a writer":
We've all been there, all been at a party, or met someone for the first time, and then got the popular question: "what do you do,"as an icebreaker. Unless you're at a social gathering where everyone is a professional writer, and/or an aspiring writer it's safe to say that saying you freelance, or you write, or you freelance write will lead to at least some head scratching, and looks of utter confusion. It's easy to tell people your job description in public because you've probably described it on a resume, at least once before. Always remember that the words "what do you do," really means "I want to get to know you, therefore I want to know more about what you do with your life." If you haven't already put some really serious thought into the 1 to 3 sentence version of the kind of freelancing you do, in order to translate it into a short, minute or two blurb that literally anyone can easily understand you really, really need to do that not only for the sake of your personal life, but also your professional life.
Don't Get Offended By People's Confusion And Misconceptions
Freelancing takes a great deal of creativity, resilience, and entrepreneurial thinking to neither give up nor fail which is why not everyone bothers freelancing. That's totally okay but unfortunately that means that only a small percentage of people understand freelancing. This sometimes causes people to say things that come from a place of ignorance. Never forget that most of the time they mean well but don't know enough about what you're doing to properly judge/understand what you're doing. Instead of turning the conversation into an aggressive confrontation calmly explain your long term goals, what you've accomplished thus far, and what's typical for the average freelancer.
People Will Definitely Ask You If You're Working Right Now
You're a freelancer, your work comes in waves, and unless you have a 9 to 5 day job, you're not a going to freelance every week and/or weekend 9 to 5 style, and even if you do have a 9 to 5 day job, if you also freelance, your freelancing will prevent your work schedule from being 9 to 5. Because this is inevitable be ready to calmly explain to yourself and others why you're working, when you're not working. Always remember: you're a freelancer, so at least you can be flexible so your work schedule is only other people's business if it has to be or you want it to be.
People Will Think You're Always Busy
This is another downside, sure it's great that freelancing= flexible schedule but some non-freelancing friends, family, etc think this means there's a higher probability you're either not working or working all the time. Give people a sense of when you're most likely to be working, and these misconceptions will slowly go away.
Dear readers, if you get nothing else out of this blog post always remember that people like my grandmother are out there, and they mean well, so never take anything they have to say about your work personally.