Reflections on a Year of Freelancing – Part One

A hand hovers over the track pad of a laptop sitting on a desk

A year ago today, I officially left my day job to begin freelancing full time.

Before then, I’d been doing small editing and writing jobs here and there, so I already knew that I would enjoy doing the work. Still, leaving the security of a full-time office job was a decision that I agonized over for a long time prior to giving my notice.

I weighed the pros and cons. I wrote lists of everything I needed to do to be “ready.” I bought the domain name for this site and joined Editors Canada as a student affiliate. I talked to other freelancers, collected resources, and thought about out my services. And I spent a lot of time worrying and daydreaming about what it would be like to be out there on my own.

And then my final day came. I was sad to be leaving behind work friends and terrified of everything that could go wrong, but I had an editing project lined up and cautious optimism that more work would come.

Well, here we are a full year later, and I’m happy to say I have survived.

It’s definitely been an adventure. And there are still things I’m learning for sure. But I thought now would be a good time to evaluate how things have gone. So, here’s a look back at my first year in full-time freelancing.

The Highlights

1. The Work

As a lifelong reader, I don’t think I can really beat a job that includes working with words and stories. I’ve had the privilege of editing an incredible memoir, some fun kids’ books, and some great short fiction—and I’ve enjoyed them all immensely.

Every day I learn something new, whether I’m checking a style convention or fact-checking a plot point about Caribbean leaches. I like the editing process because it keeps me on my toes and it always expands my knowledge. And I enjoy writing because it gives me a way to express myself and share things I find interesting.

Aside from genuinely enjoying the work I’ve been doing, I’ve also found it incredibly rewarding. In editing, there’s a certain level of satisfaction that comes from catching tiny continuity errors or finding ways to create more character depth. More rewarding still is seeing how clients take my comments and run with them. Seeing a story transform between drafts is so cool, and getting positive feedback from clients based on that transformation is even better! And seeing clients happy and proud of their final product gives me all kinds of warm and fuzzies. I’m so grateful to be part of that process.

2. The Freedom

Without a doubt, I’ve been happier in my professional life this past year than I had previously been. I enjoy working from home and controlling my schedule (for the most part). The sense of liberty and possibility I feel is invigorating.

Plus, freelancing allows me to take my office with me when I need or want to. I don’t currently have any family living in Ottawa, and there are often literary events and networking opportunities elsewhere, so being able to work while travelling has been nice.

This year, I visited New Brunswick to see family, travelled to Brampton to volunteer at the Festival of Literary Diversity, went to Saskatoon to attend the Editors Canada Conference, and stopped in Edmonton to see a cousin. All I had to do to keep working through all those trips was take my laptop, make note of time differences, and ensure I had wifi.

Of course, working outside my home office can have distractions, but the flexibility of making my own hours and being able to work from anywhere reduces my stress about missing out.

3. The Community

I work from home, so I don’t have a lot of social interaction during the day (more on that later). Even so, I am slowly discovering a whole community of like-minded editors and freelancers. And they are wonderful!

I’ve met fellow editors through Editors Canada and followed a bunch of publishing professionals on social media. These people have been welcoming, encouraging, and helpful. It feels good to be a part of this community, and I have learned so much about writing, editing, freelancing, and more by listening to those who share their experiences.

As someone who has a hard time feeling like they belong, it has been refreshing to find so many supportive colleagues.

These are just some of the best parts of this past year. There are more, but they all really come down to improved mental health. While not every day is good or easy (I’ll be back to share the challenges I’ve faced this year in Part Two), I am pretty happy in this new career path and I look forward to what’s to come.

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