I don’t mean at a hotel. In teacher-speak, accommodations are those methods we use to get up underneath a challenge and make success accessible. For instance, a student with vision impairment may need materials with larger print. Without it, we’re not assessing intelligence so much as eyesight.
I graduated with my MFA on May 2, and have been using these days since to transition myself into fulltime freelancing. I do this every summer, and remembering that takes the edge off a little. This time around is not just for the summer. This time is for keeps. Long-term freelancing effectively means job-hunting for the rest of my life, or until I decide to stop freelancing. It’s a little scary.
I haven’t taken any jobs yet. I wanted to get some groundwork in order first. I started out calling this “two weeks off,” but I’ve stopped since there really hasn’t been much of a vacation about it. I’ve been taking care of things around the house that I let slide while finishing my degree, and honing in on business plans, daily schedules, health insurance options, and other such things so that once I do start, it runs smoothly.
I’ve also been assessing what kinds of accommodations I’m going to need to be successful and healthy at this. There are small, work-habit things that people don’t always talk about when starting a business, but they make a big difference in how effectively we work. For instance, when I was painting for a living, it took me quite a long time to figure out that I needed to stick with murals when I took commissions. Any time I took on easel work that I could do at home in my studio, I put it off in favor of housework or my own personal art. But when I had to go to location to paint and stay there for several hours, I got the job done quickly without sacrificing quality.
I thought I’d post my list of accommodations here in case it helps anyone else think through what kinds of accommodations would help in a freelance career.
- Leave the house: I will leave the house at the same time every day to focus on freelance gigs. I have a membership with a local botanical garden with a sadly underused library on site. It’s about a mile from my home, so this will be my office space.
- Get one of those cool scoopy seat things that acts as a cradle for your butt when you sit. I already have back and joint problems, and want to minimize these and maximize the time I can comfortably work.
- Take regular stretch breaks. The great thing about working in a garden library is I have some gorgeous outdoor space where I can take a short walk.
- Set regular work hours and do not work beyond them unless the pay is commensurate with overtime. I don’t function well when I feel I’m ignoring my family or my own personal time.
- Set regular hours for my creative writing and treat them with the same respect that my paid writing receives.
- Continue to meet with other writers and share work, business development, and encouragement. For me, this is weekly.
- Strengthen relations with HD Counseling, a local holistic counseling center where I offer art and writing workshops, so that I still get my teaching fix.
I’d love to hear about any accommodations you make for yourself as a writer, either freelancing or otherwise. Please comment with your thoughts. If you’re looking for more habit-style things to consider in your own freelancing pursuits, Sara Horowitz’s book The Freelancer’s Bible offers great ideas.