With so many big projects from late May through early July, I almost felt like the summer months didn’t happen. I was busy enough that I always felt like I was on the brink of falling behind. And although this has been a great school year for my first grader, I feel the press of responsibilities and obligations getting ready to pull me under again.
Whenever I see my grandmother, she asks how I’m doing, and the inevitable reply is, “Busy.” I recount to her my projects – currently, a memoir for one client, an eBook for another, and a book I’m co-writing with a friend – and she asks me how I’ve gotten myself into this. “Well, I’m getting paid,” I tell her. It’s not like I’m giving my time away.
Finishing my first set of three big projects at the end of June wasn’t good enough; I immediately picked up a bunch more. It was great for the summer because the number of paying projects I took on more than made up for the substitute teaching jobs that I only get during the school year. My days were full, but I didn’t have to get up hours before dawn, didn’t have as many pressing deadlines, and could block off time for myself and still get things done.
When school started back, though, the early alarm clock became part of my routine again, as well as lots of substitute teaching, karate and t-ball practices for my elder son, preschool Sunday school, my Education for Ministry class (which comes with a 1000-page history book this year), and my recent move to assistant editor for Fiction Fix. I warned all of my clients that, while I would have plenty of time during the summer, everything would slow down once school started again. “Does that mean that I need to find someone else?” one of these clients asked. Of course not! I need the work, and I can’t leave her with her project half-done.
Even so, I’ve had less time than I thought I would. Whole weeks have slipped by without me touching some of my work, and when it was August, it was all well and good, but somehow October snuck up on me.
It comes down to time management, as usual. There are only so many hours in a day, and sometimes I don’t have more than five or ten minutes to devote to one person, in order to give time to everyone. A few days ago, I started to feel the pressure when I realized that the book I’m co-writing needs to go to the printer the last week of the month, and I still don’t have all of the material. The memoir needs to be finished before Christmas, and the eBook is set to publish in mid-December, but we’re having all kinds of technical issues with the conversion for e-devices. To get all of these things done, the only solution that I can think of is to give up some of the weekend time that I’ve tried to set aside to read and edit for myself – you know, for my sanity.
And I made this decision on a weekend when we were going out of town for a mini vacation, naturally.
On Friday afternoon, I spent an hour hunched over my MacBook, bound and determined to finish the latest chunk of the memoir. My husband took care of all the last minute details, as well as our two-year-old. I finished and called my client from the car, promising to get the material to her next week.
One of the wonderful things about freelance work is that you can do things like this – type from your house right before leaving town – but if you don’t have the discipline to do it, you could easily get sucked into your favorite TV show or lose an hour on Facebook. There’s no boss looking over your shoulder to tell you off or remind you that October, in fact, started four days ago.
And if you’re married and working freelance, it also takes an understanding spouse. Sure, it looks like I’m having a great time, sitting in my comfy glider and typing away in my bedroom slippers, but I really am working, and there is a client who is counting on me to give my best. But that understanding only stretches so far. The free time that I afford myself on weekends needs to include my husband and kids.
As I write, I'm out of town with my family. My in-laws offered to take us to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Disney World. The kids knew we were going to visit their grandparents for the weekend, but Disney was a surprise. And so worth it. It's what I consider the last hurrah before I knuckle down and get serious.
And, of course, I have another motivating factor (aside from keeping my clients happy): NaNoWriMo starts in less than a month, and I can’t wait to write the sequel to last year’s NaNo book. I can’t do that with all these looming projects, so October, look out! There’s going to be a whole lot of productivity going on around here.