Recession Mama

{July 27, 2009}   My Freelance Cycle

By Katy

I have my next gig lined up.  Whew!  R-E-L-I-E-F.  If you are a freelancer, you totally understand where I am coming from.  Now, I must say I actually LOVE freelancing.  It is very liberating.

Let me steal the pirate’s theme song for a minute.  Yo! Ho! Ho!  The freelancer’s life’s for me!

Freelancing like a pirate?!

Freelancing like a pirate?!

Really!  I love the life of a freelancer.  I jump from project to project, so I am never bored.  (Great for those of us with undiagnosed ADD.)  I am also blessed; I do work pretty regularly.  And it really is just as exciting as a movie pirate’s life, including the occasional spotting of Johnny Depp.

Capt Jack Sparrow was a free-booter!

Capt Jack Sparrow was a free-booter!

On the other hand, a pirate’s life has its drawbacks.  Try making your own plans, and you’ll most likely be staring down the plank.  Also, since I am seldom on land, having a stable life which includes seeing my Fiance, family, or friends regularly just doesn’t happen.  I’ve had to change course many times.  (Thanks for all the understanding.  You know who you are.)

The other drawback is the emotional rollercoaster (or waves, if we’re still using the pirate metaphor) you go through when you’re not working.  Usually, after I wrap a show, I make plans.  I write down a list of everything I’d like to do while I’m not working.  It always includes things like writing, cleaning the house, organizing stuff, exercising more, traveling, and seeing all the friends and family members I’ve canceled on many times before.  Let’s say my last day on a show is a Friday.  I’m writing up my list on Saturday.  Sunday, I file for unemployment.  By Monday, I’m completely unmotivated.  I sleep in.  I try to exercise, half-heartedly, but I really just end up watching TV.  A lot of TV.  The next day, this lethargic cycle starts all over again.  By Wednesday, I try to “snap out of it,” and I finally call, e-mail or facebook some friends.  Usually, the ones who have jobs are busy.  The ones who don’t have jobs are eager to go out, but they don’t have any money.  By Thursday, I am depressed, and I think I should go to therapy…but who has money to see a therapist when you’re not working?  By Friday, I think I’m never going to find a job again.

OK, I may have exaggerated the timeline a bit.  But as Spock would say, it is not logical.  I know.  I KNOW.  I KNOW!!!  But somewhere in the back of my brain, a little voice will keep telling me that I will…not…find…a…job…ever…again.  Not that I’ve even tried to find a job.  I just find myself thinking this.  I also think…maybe I need to change careers or why don’t I just find something more stable or why can’t I just win the lottery (hence last week’s post).  I know a lot of my fellow freelancers go through this self-defeating, self-absorbed cycle-babble every single time they’re unemployed too.  So, why am I even telling you all this?

Well, now that I have my next gig lined up, I am not in the worry phase anymore.  I can see more clearly now, and I hope that by writing down my crazy thought cycle, that maybe, just maybe, I won’t repeat them the next time around.  Because there will be a next time.  I’m a freelancer.  Shows end.  And I, for the most part, happily, move on.  I am also writing down my cycle of work withdrawal to help those of you who are freelancers or who are looking to freelance.  I want you to know that I’m here for you.  And hopefully, you’ll be there for me.  We’re all in this together.  I’m sure we all go through this, and I would love to hear more people admit it.  So, what do you do when you are unemployed?  Is there a cycle you go through?  Are you first in denial?  Then, after you get angry, do you start to grieve?  Finally, do you heal, move on, and realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that you will, eventually, find a job and not die lonely, poor, homeless, or end up in any other (semi to dramatic) life or death scenario?

I want to learn to enjoy my time off, finish that to-do list finally, and go on vacation.  Because eventually when I do start working, I will wish I had more time to excercise, travel, and see friends and family.

recessionmama says:

From Heather: I completely understand! I get a little antsy when I haven’t freelanced in a while. I always wonder if I will still remember how to do it. I haven’t worked in TV news in months. Normally I would have completely freaked about it. But for some strange reason I haven’t. Guess it’s because I still go in and do radio, so I get my “news” fix that way. Hopefully it means I’m growing up a little. Or perhaps I’m just tired of the chase. Not sure. All I know is that it’s raining today and I’m glad I don’t have to get out in it and do a story.

Katy says:

When I was younger and working in news, I was never worried. I knew I’d have a job soon, and I’d actually always ask to start later so I can squeeze a vacation in. But now that I have a mortgage, I seem to get into a cycle that I haven’t been able to break yet. Hopefully, writing it down will help me.

carla says:

First of all, CONGRATS on the new gig, Katy! I’m SO happy for you.

Like we talked the other day, you’re a seasoned pro at this…so of course you’re going to find work. Your defense mechanism just tells you those negative things to prepare you for the worse possible outcome. I know, I do that sort of thing, too. I always always expect the worst of everything, and when things go better, it’s like freakin’ Christmas! heehee.

You deserve a while off after you wrap a show. I mean, working those insane hours would make anyone feel like taking weeks off, so don’t feel bad for doing nothing for a week…enjoy it! Dude, seriously, ENJOY IT. Oh and come to Dallas to see me, OK? : )

Katy says:

Thanks, Carla! And I’m trying to find cheap plane tickets.

carla says:

worst …not worse. no more commenting late at night, Carla. (yes, 9:30 is late…lol)

Carrie says:


Congrats on the new gig. As a fellow freelancer, I have a different problem. When I finish a job, I am usually so burnt out that I never want to work again. I love not working; I just don’t love not getting paid.

Katy says:

Thanks, Carrie! Yeah it’s hard not to get paid. That’s why I wrote that post about winning the lottery. Then, you can not work and still have money. Best of all worlds, right?

This is great information. I’m starting to get story ideas zooming in my head.

recessionmama says:

Glad to help and inspire, Freelancer!

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