Monday, May 23, 2011


One of the realities of being a professional writer is deadlines. When you're a full-time freelancer like me, your ability to get paid centers on your ability to deliver usable quality work by a deadline. I am self-employed, providing clients with a valuable service (i.e., my writing). I am assigned article topics to deliver (I also pitch my own topics to editors) by a set deadline. If I don't do it, I don't get paid. It's that simple.

One reason that many people like to work a cushy job with a regular salary is they get paid whether their work gets done or not. I know this from experience. When I worked in the corporate world, oftentimes my own work was dependent on a whole bunch of other people who seemed to have trouble with deadlines. If they didn't get their work to me, I couldn't make my own deadlines. (Funny thing, a lot of the people who didn't make deadlines and also seemed to do no work in general often outranked me in both job title and salary; that kind of bullshit is one major reason why I prefer to be a sole proprietor).

I have tried to explain to people (i.e., aspiring writers, my three-year-old son, my mom, my husband, ad nauseum) that when I am on deadline, PEOPLE CANNOT BOTHER ME. My mother is especially talented about calling me up and wanting to chat for hours when I'm on multiple article deadlines. Her usual response when I tell her I'm too busy to talk is, "But you work at home! You can do whatever you want!" I have long since tired of explaining to her why I can't talk to her when I'm on deadline, and use caller ID just to screen my calls and not answer them.

People, if I don't make deadline, I DON'T GET PAID. Period. It's that simple. This is why I get irritated with people who think that just because I'm a freelancer who works out of my house that I can just screw around and do whatever I want all day. Some days when I'm not on deadline I do have a lot of freedom and control over my own time (which is one reason I'm self-employed) but not when I'm on deadline.

Also, I do self-impose a lot of my own deadlines, such as when I'm writing fiction. I tell myself that I have to finish that novel by Day X, and I do it. Self-discipline is necessary in this business. That's why I call bullshit whenever people tell me that they "don't have time" to finish that novel they've had sitting in a drawer for five years. They DO have the time---but they don't have the self-discipline to set themselves a deadline and meet it. We all have the same number of hours in the day everybody else does, it's all about how we choose to use them.

I think that we might solve a lot of the world's problems by forcing everyone to work the way I do. If you don't do your job, you don't get paid. What a concept. How many people out there would be totally screwed if that's how the world worked? I can name several hundred right off the top of my head.


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