A freelance journalist must be a resourceful person. A freelancer doesn’t have the luxury and safety net of sick pay, worker’s compensation insurance and workmates in the same room.
No one at your target publication cares about WHY you couldn’t get an article in on time, and professionally presented. Your broken computer, your illness, your crisis in the family . . .
Remember that if you were an employee and a loved one died, the most paid time-off you get is two days. Then, generally speaking, you’re expected to be back at work, unless you take holidays or unpaid time off. The world is harsh. Two days is the official paid time-off when a close relative dies.
Now if a death in the family happens to a freelancer, editors will be polite and will try to sound sympathetic. But let’s face it. They must be hard and dedicated to the excellence of their publications.
They aren’t allowed to be late with the issuing of the publications. Proprietors, shareholders and readers won’t listen to their excuses or even their good reasons. In turn editors don’t forgive you just because you have strong, logical reasons for failing to keep your promise to deliver.
Resourceful means that no matter what goes wrong, you find a way through.
When your computer breaks down you manage to borrow one. When you’re ill, you find strength within yourself to keep working. When a personal, romantic or family crisis arises, you put it aside momentarily and finish your work by staying up to 4am and finish it.
The resourceful freelancer finds a way around every disaster. Think of it like this: no matter what goes wrong in your life, you still find a way to brush your teeth, eat meals, wear clothes, smile…
You don’t fall to pieces. You use your inner resources to make sure life keeps going. You don’t just lie down on the couch, close your eyes and refuse to take part in life until everything is hunky-dory again.
Being resourceful is what we all do when life’s disasters strike, and resourceful is a keyword for the freelance journalist. Let me put it more harshly…a young child in your life, maybe your own, has been injured and needs urgent hospitalisation. You would never offer an excuse: “Oh, my car battery was dead . . . the phone wasn’t working . . . I had a bad back and couldn’t pick the child up . . . I just couldn’t help.”
You would never do that. You would immediately become resourceful, and no matter what the problems, you would overcome them and get the child to hospital, one way or another, never allowing yourself some excuse.
Think of your work in the same dramatic life-and-death terms. Your work simply has to get done, and you will get it done because you are resourceful when that’s required.