Monday, June 9, 2008

Freelance Income: Practical vs. Creative

I wonder what would happen if we put 100% into what we truly want to do, instead of splitting time and energy between what's considered "practical" and what's "creative"?

For example:
Practical - writing dull insurance articles for a website
Creative - writing that fun personal essay for Skirt!
Practical - temping at a marketing company for extra money
Creative - writing & submitting extra newspaper articles each month for extra $

As a "green" freelancer I'm constantly reminded that if I want to be a smart businessperson, I need to be practical & do whatever makes money until I break into the writing markets that pay well. Okay, this is sound advice. It's what I'm doing. But lately I've been wondering if it's the only way...

Tonight, at an ESL meeting, I talked with a retired school principal named Bob. Twenty years ago, Bob's son and daughter in-law quit their jobs (one worked at a marketing company , the other at Morgan Stanley) because they couldn't take the corporate life anymore. They quit cold, with no income and no plan other than knowing they wanted to start their own business. Well, they did a lot of research, worked hard, and borrowed money - from Bob and his wife, who took out a 2nd mortgage on their home to make it possible. Today, the couple's created a children's puzzle company and their puzzles are sold throughout the world ("Melissa & Doug")..and they've "hired" Bob and his wife as employees in the now-family business!

I'm not saying we need to go broke or borrow money to become successful writers...but faith, creativity and courage goes a long way in chucking out some of that "safe" work we don't want and taking a chance on what we truly want to do.


ACW said...

Practical work can be fun and a good money maker if you zero in on what you're good at and the topic interests you, then focus on finding work in that niche. For example, I really am good at taking complex information and simplifying it so it's easier to understand. With a PR and manufacturing background, I love picking up trade article assignments for industrial businesses. I make good money, they're easy for me to write, and I enjoy the people I talk to. So I look for this work more than other types.

It's a matter of finding what you like and what you're good at, then concentrating on getting work in those areas.

Kir said...

Anne has a good point, and I've heard it before: find a way to get paid to do what you love.
But Colleen, your idea of turning our backs on material things, stepping out in faith, and having the commitment and the chutzpa to do something totally radical and creative has even more appeal. It's hard, I think, to do if you have kids and the obligations that brings. But since I DO have kids, I know Melissa and Doug puzzles, and they are THE BEST! So, clearly, the exception--those people who defied practical thinking and found great success with it--can sometimes be true.
I probably won't quit my job...I know I won't...but sometimes I like to think about just being a reader and writer all day.
It's a fun thought to entertain.