Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Is there anything better than the afternoon before a major holiday? And Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite, as far as time off from the "real job" goes. I clocked out at 2:00 on the nose, and now I'm just waiting for my husband to do the same.

Tonight's plans are pie-themed: I'm baking apple and pumpkin pies for tomorrow and then watching Ned the Piemaker on an episode of Pushing Daisies (sadly, it's one of the last episodes of this lovely series).

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. And while I'm chowing down on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cheesy asparagus (a killer recipe passed down from my mom), I'll be thinking about what I'm thankful for this year.

First and foremost, my wonderful and supportive husband. We live in a relatively small one-bedroom apartment that has no room for my own office. Not many guys would be as understanding when their wife says, "Oh, honey, I'm on deadline. Can you not turn the TV on right now? Actually...can you go somewhere else entirely for the next hour?" He's never complained once, and he's gotten to the point where he'll just "decide" to go out to a bookstore for the evening when he knows I have freelance work to do.

We're moving to a new apartment in February that will have room for an office, but he's been beyond patient this year. And always super supportive of my goals.

Second, in this crappy economy, I am so fortunate to have a steady full-time job with regular pay and benefits, plus a budding freelance career on the side. My full-time gig is a copy editing job, and I'm so lucky to be writing and editing for 8, 9, 10 hours (or more) a day between my regular job and freelancing.

Third, I have a great family and absolutely wonderful friends.

Fourth, I'm grateful for the theatrical opportunities I've had over the past year. I got to play Mrs. Potts and take on an absolutely iconic song and scene in a production of Beauty and the Beast last December. And in April, I got to appear off-off-Broadway in a one-act festival!

Other things I'm thankful for, in no particular order:

My sister (she gets singled out from the rest of the fam because she's extra-awesome)
My new laptop
The fact that I have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in and food to eat every night
My health
Long holiday weekends from work that allow me to get extra freelance work done.

And to my fellow readers, I'm thankful for you. I started this blog just under a year ago, and I'm still learning my way around the blogosphere. But for those of you who stop by every once in a while to read and comment, even when I haven't updated in a while, I want you to know that I really appreciate it.

Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for this year?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different...

I made my first business-related purchase this weekend.

I got a new laptop.

I've been in the market for one for a while, since my husband and I have been sharing an old Dell laptop since I officially kicked off my freelancing career back in January. More work has been coming my way lately, so I wanted to have my own workstation so I wasn't constantly monopolizing the "family computer." Plus I wanted something lighter and faster than our old model.

Friday night, I was window-shopping in Best Buy when this on-sale beauty caught my eye. (The price in the store was a much better deal than the price online.) A little less than an hour later, it was mine.

And I love it. So much.

(Obviously, I'm already doing work on it---you can see my open article onscreen in those last couple of pictures!)

Working Over the Holidays

Here's a question for any established freelancers who read this blog: Do you plan to work over the upcoming holiday weekends (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years)? If not, have you worked over holidays in the past?

This is the first time I've had to ask myself that question. And my answer is yes, absolutely I'm going to work.

Take this coming weekend, for instance. Obviously, Thanksgiving Day is family time. But then I've got three full days off from work. I am not a Black Friday shopper. Too many years of working retail have killed any desire to shop that day. (Although I may hit up a few online sales.) I tend to do a lot of writing and editing on the weekends anyway, so why should this weekend be any different?

To be honest, as someone who's balancing an increasingly heavy freelance workload on top of a 40+ hour week at work, the idea of having three full days to do nothing but my freelance work is like a breath of fresh air.

Christmas will be a different story. My sister is visiting from Indiana over the Christmas weekend, so I'm going to take a break from work while she's here. But for Thanksgiving? I'll take the extra assignments, please.

How do all of you handle holidays? Do you embrace the extra time to work, or do you take the weekend for some much-needed "me" time?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Book Recommendations for Freelancers

It's that time of year again...time for turkeys, Christmas specials, caroling, and---if you're lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it)---snow. I saw a sign yesterday broadcasting "Only 46 shopping days until Christmas!" It's hard to think of it that way when it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but if you're the plan-ahead type, you might be thinking about taking advantage of the relatively low crowd volume. And maybe, just maybe, you're thinking about what to get for the freelancer in your life.

Great gifts for freelancers include office staples like paper, pens, ink cartridges, and day planners. If your wallet's a little thicker, you might spring for a computer, printer, or fax machine. But if you're not rich and you'd like to shop somewhere a little more exciting than Office Depot, there's one type of gift with which you can never go wrong: books.

Freelance writers love to read. And one of the things we most enjoy reading about is how to start, grow, or improve our freelance business.

I've read a lot about freelancing since I first started writing for the Web in 2005 (and first started actually getting paid for it in 2008). I've compiled a list of what I personally believe to be the highlights:

  • Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer by Jenna Glazter. Every aspiring freelancer should read this book. It's like the Bible. Although it is slightly limited (Jenna focuses on writing articles for print magazines, rather than other venues such as copywriting or Web writing), this book is chock-full of useful information about how to get your career off and running. There's tons of information about coming up with ideas, querying editors, dealing with deadbeat clients and more.
  • The Anti 9-5 Guide by Michelle Goodman. I got this book for Christmas last year and have read it cover-to-cover about 10 times since then. Michelle writes with an upbeat style and a dry sense of humor as she provides tips and advice for fleeing the cubicle. The book includes practical advice for building a business on the side and eventually taking the great leap into freelancing. It also covers temping, part-time work, and breaking into a new career.
  • The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman. If you're looking to simply write articles and fiction, this book won't be of much use to you. If, however, you're open to working in commercial and business writing, this book should be with you at all times. Peter teaches would-be freelancers how to build a business from scratch, and---more importantly---how to market themselves.
Whenever an aspiring freelancer asks me what reading material he or she should read to get started, I invariably point them to one of the above three books. What's your favorite book about freelancing?