The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps. ~ Robert Benchley

Moving to Amsterdam has involved a whole lot of lifestyle change – and not just because I now live by a canal and a windmill. 

The biggest change is that I’ve now moved my ‘work’ completely from regular office work to freelance stuff. I’m not as busy as I’d like to be at the moment, but stuff is coming up little by little, and hopefully soon I will be full of fruitful commitments. I’ve even put together a website to help me snare some clients. 

When I first thought seriously about packing in my office job – last summer, almost daily – I thought I would be a communications consultant, relying on my years of experience as a communications professional, writing press releases, working on websites, doing outreach strategies and so forth. 

But now I find myself in the position of getting to do what I really want to do, and it’s kind of exhilarating. And a little terrifying.

Telling a story at Mezrab

The kind of freelance work I have lined up so far is all teaching and performing improv comedy, with a little bit of show hosting as well. The good news is that this is the stuff I really like doing; when I’m leading a workshop or telling a story (and it’s going well) I find myself thinking “THIS is what I should be doing, this is what I’m good at”. 

I have never had that thought while editing a press release.

And I have some paying gigs lined up – teaching at festivals in Bristol, UK and Tampere, Finland, and courses and weekend intensives in Brussels and Amsterdam and doing shows in Amsterdam and Switzerland. So I’m going to be relatively busy in the next few months. But stretching it into something long-term and sustainable might take some more doing. I’m still trying to get my mind around that.

Writing as a hobby/job (jobby?)
Turning the writing stuff into a satisfying and financially rewarding activity is a little trickier. In and around festivals and workshops I need to be able to fill my ‘work’ time with sitting in my home office (a dream come true!) and work on my writing projects (another – complementary – dream come true!). 

It is all easy enough in theory, but in practice a little more difficult. For it is here at this desk that I battle my attention span and overabundance of ideas. So much to do that frequently very little gets done. And when all of it is unpaid, and bills are looming it’s hard to prioritize. Plus, to quote Dorothy Parker, “I hate writing, I love having written.”

The good news is that regardless of the obstacles I’ve got projects on the go: writing sketches and a web series, and also compiling some non-fiction writing to put into book form. If this workrate, medium-speed though it is, keeps up, I should be churning out some work I’m proud of in short order.

There’s just the small niggling bit of getting paid. Sketches, web series and essays and memoirs do not pay – at least not to me… not yet.

Looking for clients
So, in the meantime, I’m shopping around for any writing work that pays. I’m looking for a client. Or clients, although just one client with a steady stream of work and a prompt payment plan would be ideal. 

I will of course bring all my professional communications experience and writing credentials to bear on whatever this imagined client wants me to do. 

But hang on, if I’m just imagining this client I’m going to imagine that he or she wants to pay me to write what I want.

So yeah, thanks, person I just made up, I will just keep going on this stuff I’m digging. Plugging away on the projects that make me happy. And sure, you can pay me in advance – that’s no problem. 

This is working out great.