Feast or Famine

I don’t know if all free agents experience this, but I’ve found it true for myself and many of my writer friends: The work is feast or famine. You’re either sitting around uneasily waiting for your next project to surface, or you have 5 people calling you at once, 4 of them after you committed all your time, with a sigh of relief, to caller 1.

It wasn’t any different when I worked at a “real” job. I was always either crazy busy or twiddling my thumbs and trying to LOOK busy — much harder when you have to be in an office for 8 hours or are expected to produce X hours of billable time. It was excruciating, and such a waste of time. But then, I still got paid. So in a way, it was all in a day’s work.

What do I do now when it’s slow? (I think my husband is dying to know.) It depends on how panicked I am about knowing there will be no money coming in 30-60 days from now.

I often check out Monster or the local want ads (maybe that dream job is just waiting for me — yeah right), clean out my e-mail Inbox and Sent folders so they’re under 400 each, maybe clean my desk (but not usually — it’s the one place where I thrive in clutter). I might send out some feelers to get in front of clients who might have work. Or if I’m convinced no one will call and suddenly need me, I tackle any of a thousand house projects (from the mundane laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping to the latest torture-du-jour — paint scraping, mortar chipping, wall sanding — fun stuff like that).

And lest you think I’m a saint, I do sometimes take an afternoon nap, tune into HGTV, or go for a walk. (I always ask the boss first to make sure she says it’s OK.)

Now, of course, I can add blogging to the list — more fun than any of the above and even like working … for free … so it’s like volunteering … or doing pro bono work … so I should feel good about it. Right?

Fortunately, my current mini famine comes without hunger pangs. I have 4 or 5 projects hovering out there, including a couple of white papers to write (major deals — a bit intimidating), an article, a bulk of editing, an internal safety campaign, another editing project…all committed to and all obviously conspiring to strike at once.

The feast is coming — better tighten my thinking cap and get those fat pants ready.

The supreme accomplishment is to blur
the line between work and play.
                         ~ Arnold Toynbee

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