I’ve talked, over multiple platforms, about how different freelance/writing factions are often dismissive and condescending toward each other.
Business writers treat fiction writers like it’s a cute lil hobby. Many businesspeople who never write a word swear they’d write a book “if they had time.” Nope. They wouldn’t. They’re not willing to do the work. They’d talk the book to someone they hope not to pay and claim they’d split the non-existent profits, but it’s not happening any time soon.
Fiction writers treat business writers as sellouts, because writers should “write for the love of it.” These are usually fiction writers who aren’t getting paid for their work. Those who are getting paid understand the business as well as the passion.
Loving my job does not mean I forfeit the right to earn a living at it.
Before you got “not all” on me, yeah, I know. I know plenty of writers who do both types of writing, or who do one and don’t try to demean the other. But too many believe what they do is “real” and anything else isn’t.
“Making a living writing” means you get paid for your words and keep a roof over your head, no matter what box those words fall into. And, for freelancers, that often means more than one box.
In my post a few weeks ago, I talked about the need to expand your definition of “freelance” since it goes far beyond doing content or tech work for a typical corporation. Artists and entertainers are freelancers. Basically, anyone who works in an at-will state is a freelancer, although you might have a W-2 now and some temporary benefits.
That’s the reality of the modern work.
We were also told, for years, to compartmentalize our work from our lives. “Close the door when you finish for the day.” Great. Boundaries are a necessity. Sometimes we need boundaries to protect us from ourselves.
But we’re also doing a disservice with “work-life balance” and compartmentalization. Work and life are both portions of life.
Work is PART of life. It’s often a big part, because it gives us the money to live the other parts. But it is a part of life, not separate from it. Because so many people hate their jobs, because hating one’s job is considered normal, we’re trained to separate work from life. It can be a protection mechanism. It can also be weaponized against us.
The pandemic taught us many things, things traditional working environments want us to forget. One is that they don’t give a damn about their workers, as long as they profit. Another is that many jobs don’t need to be done within the corporate space, but they insist on it to have more control, and to give cover to bad managers who should have been fired eons ago. Keeping one’s staff controlled, overworked, underpaid, scrambling to survive, and tying health care to the job, are all ways to keep employees under control.
They are ways to prevent employees from living an holistic life.
Imagine if we all loved our jobs. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, since people are vastly different, with vastly different interests.
Imagine that, even if we didn’t “love” the job, we enjoyed the time spent at work. We found the work challenging in positive way; spent creative time with respectful colleagues who didn’t “yes” us or sabotage us, but worked with us; were surprised when the workday was over because the time flew, and we have the satisfaction of a job well done.
If we do work we love, we are better at it, happier in working with our colleagues, and happier in our lives at home.
Rather than subjugating employees, it would behoove corporations to enhance the lives of their employees, because then the employees would bring more creativity, energy, and talent back to work with them. Plenty of companies talk the talk. Few actually do it.
So we’re on our own to create a healthy work life for ourselves, which then creates a healthier overall life for us, our families, our friends, and, yes, our colleagues at work.
Where does your work fit into your life? How can you make it more holistic? How can your job positively feed the rest of your life in ways beyond money?
Is it about different tasks? Different colleagues? A more flexible schedule? Being able to decorate and personalize your space to make it a joyful and comfortable place to work? Genuine conversations with colleagues? The chance to learn new skills? More support during difficult stretches in your life? Stronger boundaries? (More money is a given).
If there isn’t a way to do that, how can you carve out the time and energy to find something that will?
The paths to this are different for each of us. There are times we have to make tradeoffs for the long and short term. But if we remember that work is part of life and not separate from it, we have a better shot at not only a balanced life, but an integrated, healthier one.