July 2, 2014 ()
Life In Sweatpants: The Average Day of a Freelance Journalist
Life as a freelance journalist can be hard, there’s absolutely no question about that.
Between unfilled invoices, work hours and pay that can change at a moment’s notice, the everyday struggle to find enough work to pay the bills, the complete lack of coworkers, benefits, and bonuses, not to mention the general stress that comes along the newspaper business — like hunting down interviewees and meeting tight deadlines — it can get pretty rough out there.
While it’s not easy living and working alone, under constant threat of the shit hitting the fan, the benefits of this lifestyle far outweigh the downsides. While everyday is different, looking back on the past 18 or so months working from my bedroom I can give you a pretty good sense of the average day, and perhaps you’ll understand why it’s the best way to live.
Most days my first alarm goes off around 9 a.m., from which point I wake up every 10 minutes or so to check my email in case I’ve been given an assignment or need to make a call. I’d say about eighty per cent of the time I continue hitting snooze until 10 a.m., at which point I brush my teeth and fill the coffee maker with some Tim Horton’s fine grind.
That’s when I put on the sweatpants — in winter usually accompanied by a t-shirt, but in summer anything goes.
I continue drinking my coffee and catching up on the news until about 11 a.m., at which point I get to work following up on any interviewees I’ve been trying to reach, addressing any edits or changes from my editors, or putting the final touches on something that’s almost complete. I’m not really a morning person, so I try and keep the long interviews and heavy writing for the afternoon, whenever possible.
At around 12:30pm I’ll switch from sweatpants to shorts and head to the gym conveniently located in my apartment building, still keeping a close eye on my email in case I need to quickly run back to the office. After a quick workout I shower, put the sweatpants back on and make myself some lunch while watching the previous evening’s episode of the Colbert Report.
I get back to my desk around 2 p.m. and start the heavy lifting. Some afternoons I’ll conduct anywhere between four and six interviews of 20-60 minutes each, others I’ll write somewhere between 800 and 1800 words, but on an average day it’s a combination of the two.
The day finishes whenever I hang up the phone on my last interview or write the last word of a story, which can land anywhere between 4pm and 10pm, though I’d say it averages out to about 7ish. Fortunately there’s no commute to worry about. I hear traffic in this town can be brutal.
Of course there are exceptions to this lifestyle, however I would say the shitstorm days of non-stop work are about as frequent as the days I decide to take off without asking anyone’s permission, so it evens out in the end.
Life as a freelance journalist can be hard sometimes, there’s absolutely no question about that. But overall, on the average day, it’s pretty damn awesome.