Your Day As A Freelance Writer

Congratulations! You’re a writer. You’re your own boss now. And Connor O’Brien knows exactly how your workday is going to go.

7 a.m.

Wake up. You’ve set your iPhone alarm clock early because this is going to be a big fucking day. You are going to write so many fucking words. So. Fucking. Many. Like, tens of thousands of words. Hundreds of thousands? How many words did Kerouac write all hopped up on Benzedrine? You’re gonna, like, double that shit. Once you took an online typing test and got 82 WPM. If you go hard for five hours, that’s 25,000 words at a push. Shit yeah. That’s half a fucking novel! Theoretically, you could be writing a hundred books a year.

8 a.m.

Wake up again. Note to self: you were allowed to sleep that extra hour. You’ll just work an hour later, that’s all. That’s why it’s called freelance writing: you’re free to do this kinda shit without feeling guilty about it. It’s not like you gotta punch a time card or anything. You’ve successfully escaped the drudgery of the workday world. Conclusion: you’re awesome. Which means, in turn, that you deserved that extra hour.

9 a.m.

Your phone is ringing. “Yes, mother, I am awake. No, mother, you didn’t wake me.” Alright, now you’re out of bed. You’ll work two hours later to make up for the wasted time. Or maybe you’ll just work a little harder during the day. Yeah, that’s it. Don’t work longer, work smarter. You read that somewhere. Maybe Lifehacker. Those guys must be productive as hell over there. Seriously.

10 a.m.

Shit, 185 new entries on your RSS reader. Should probably click through ’em real quick. “The only way to become a great writer is to first become a great reader.” Your college professor told you that once. The one with the out-of-print novel. He knew what he was talking about.

11 a.m.

Pee, turn on the kettle, eat an apple, wash the dishes, pour a coffee, pee again, walk around the block, and check the mail. Fuck. Two bills. Think about that $500 piece an editor just commissioned you to write. Sure, you haven’t started it yet, but in a sense, you already have the money, because you will write it, so what’s the big difference? Pay your bills on credit. Don’t worry: everybody’s in debt right now. And besides, you’re in the early stages of your career. “You gotta spend money to make money.” Your college professor told you that, too. Remember? The prof who drove the ’78 Pulsar and was always telling the girls in your first year Lit class about his out-of-print novel? He was a good guy.

12 p.m.

Buy the six-inch sub instead of the footlong. You haven’t written anything yet today. Seriously, you don’t deserve the fucking footlong.

1 p.m.

Write a paragraph of that piece, then jerk off. Don’t feel weird about jerking off in the middle of the day while everybody else is working. The average guy jerks off once daily. Did you know that? Just because you’re jerking off at a different time than everybody else doesn’t mean you’re not technically “working.” Masturbation releases endorphins. It’s kind of like you just drank a jumbo Red Bull. Think about it.

2 p.m.

Shit yeah. 300 words! If you just wrote flat out from now ’til 5, you could still get several thousand words down. You’re obviously one of those writers who needs to ramp up, but are unstoppable as soon as you hit that critical velocity.

3 p.m.

Visit one of those “Make $10,000 A Day Freelancing” blogs and snigger at the site’s numerous spelling and grammar errors. Think, “Shit, why am I not making ten times what they’re making?” Curse the world for rewarding shitheads and punishing the truly talented.

4 p.m.

Four hundred words! That’s not ten thousand, sure, but every writer has their “off” days. (Observe that, while your past fifty “working” days could similarly be classified as “off” days, that just means you’re due for a huge streak of “on” days because that’s how these things work.)

5 p.m.

Recognize that the reason you’re not getting things done is because you haven’t perfected an adequate “time management system.” Search the App Store for to-do list apps, download one, and spend twenty minutes attempting to sync it over wifi to its companion application on your Mac. Understand that, while you’ve now “wasted” over half an hour installing the application and typing in a huge number of to-do items, in another sense you’ve essentially saved time in terms of substantial future productivity gains. Give yourself a pat on the back. You now have a “system,” damnit!

6 p.m.

Turn on the television. Remember that thing you heard somewhere about the necessity of a “work/life balance.” Consider that, if you were to continue working late, you’d end up unduly stressed and anxious, which would undoubtedly result in poor quality of written output. Relax, recognizing that tomorrow, waking at 7 and well rested, you’re truly going to kick some ass.

Connor O'Brien studies Creative Writing at an Australian university. At the office of the magazine he works for, an entire wall is dedicated to a collage of hate mail addressed to him personally. He believes this means he must be doing something right. Thus far, however, the nutters haven't found his blog.