I’ve been offered my first writing job. I went for a meeting ten days ago with the Managing Director of a company that specialises in running research projects. We sat down and discussed what she wanted me to achieve; the project is innovative and multi-faceted, and the work will take me several months. As I left I felt very excited to get started on the writing ahead of me.
On my own in the car on the way home, it was easy to imagine spending a day or two each week getting the work done, and feeling a real sense of achievement when each goal was completed. I felt as if I was driving towards a new future of freelance working and more experience of writing. I was under no illusion that I could immediately hand my notice in on my day job, but I did feel that I was one step closer to moving towards the career I want .
This feeling changed slightly when I arrived home and was immediately launched into getting our toddler upstairs for her nap, and helping to tidy up from the morning’s activities at home whilst keeping the baby amused. My daydream of getting home and immediately making a start on the work was shattered as family life took precedence.
It wasn’t until later that evening when the girls were in bed that I was able to sit down and make notes on the objectives that we had discussed at the meeting earlier that day. By the time I had made sure I had done this, I wasn’t at my best to begin writing. I went to bed feeling like I hadn’t achieved much that afternoon, with a dawning realisation that going freelance whilst helping with childcare would not be easy.
In the following few days I managed to make some progress with my writing, and enjoyed the communication and feedback I received after submitting some draft work. My wife was good at taking the girls out so that I could try to get a good few hours completed, and in return, I made sure that I didn’t work whenever they were at home. By getting work done in larger chunks, I felt more able to enjoy family time without worrying about meeting deadlines with the work hanging over me.
I spoke to one of my friends who already works from home. We talked about the three main options available for home workers. The first is working from home, ensuring I am shut away from family life so that I can concentrate. This is not a great option for me as we do not have a spare bedroom or study, so I would need to work in my own bedroom to ensure I am not disturbed. This doesn’t seem like a healthy option. The second option was to rent a desk somewhere locally, but at roughly £100 per month this would take a significant proportion of my earnings and seems wasteful when I would only need the desk for a day or two each week. The final option is to join the other home workers in one of the many coffee shops near to where we live. I was told that the downside of this included being obliged to buy drinks throughout the day, and having to pack up each time I want a break. In reality, I will probably use a combination of the first and third options. I did briefly daydream about creating a workspace in the garden; possibly a summer house or shed set up as an office. However, until I have a reliable career in writing this will have to just remain an aspiration.
I have found that one of the times when I can get the most work done is the evenings when the girls are asleep. The house is much quieter and I can dedicate some time to really making progress on the project. However, this does mean that I lose my down time and a chance to relax at the end of the day. In the short term this will be ok, as it means that I can still spend time with the girls in the day and keep up with my work. I am also staying positive and seeing this as a stepping stone to more work in the future, as it will build my portfolio and hopefully lead to more work through networking and contacts. If I manage to acquire more work, I will then be able to look at alternative solutions to ensuring a work life balance, with suitable childcare and home working environment.
For now, I am just glad to have been offered this project. It feels like my chance to really make a go of starting a career in writing and I hope I can succeed in it.