Some days, the only other human I see between the hours of 9AM and 3PM is the postman. As a freelance copywriter working from home during school hours, I don’t really need to use my voice at all during the working day, with the exception of the odd Skype meeting and a few outbursts of singing (because I’ve got to break the silence somehow).
This has changed me fundamentally in two ways.
Firstly, I’ve totally embraced small-talk. I’ve always loved people, but the thought of having to fill air-time with strangers used to be my least favourite thing in the world. I’m some kind of weird introverted people-person. Get me talking and I want to know your life story. Ask me to initiate the conversation and I don’t even know where to start.
But since leaving the constant buzz of a busy office in favour of a solo desk in my bedroom, (and also since having kids and doing the baby group thing) I’ve learned to love talking to randoms. Those passing exchanges aren’t pointless at all. They’ve become little glimpses into other people’s lives, and brief pauses on long days spent in silence. Plus, some of them have led to new friendships I’m really grateful for.
Secondly, going freelance has coincided with me accumulating lots of items with motivational words of wisdom on. Mugs, notebooks, wall prints – you name it. In lieu of anyone to give you a pep talk when you work on your own and you’re flagging, sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of a few home truths – even if it comes via your mug of tea.
My favourite is a postcard I got from a friend in my first few months of freelancing, which I’ve kept on my desk ever since. It’s a ‘skills to pay the bills’ print from the Old English Company, which has since become my go-to shop for quirky hand-lettered stationery that strikes just the right balance of cute and quirky without veering into sickly self-help.
I’m far too cynical for full-on motivational messages, but this hit just the right note when I needed it most, and I’m really grateful to that friend for thinking of me that day. I’ve just discovered Old English have a new range of enamel pins, and are running a competition to win a set of three if you tell them your favourite pin from the range by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by May 30th.
At £7 they’re just right to post to fellow friends – whether they’re new mums or newbie freelancers – in the hope that a bit of happy mail might brighten their day like it did mine. And start that all-important conversation with the postman, of course…
Freelancing and self-employment has become a big part of my life in the last couple of years (more on my first year here), so I’m going to start talking about it more on this blog and linking to some of the resources I’ve found handy along the way in what will *hopefully* be a monthly post. I’ll file it under a separate tab so it’s away from the day-to-day family travel stuff, for anyone who’s interested in that side of things (just as soon as I figure out how to do that). The next post will be about this brilliant Media Masters podcast with writer and broadcaster Emma Gannon – if you’re a freelance content creator with multiple strings to your bow, have a listen.