A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer

by Brittany McSorley

When people find out I’m a freelance writer and editor working largely from home, they tend to have questions. Some are sincere, while some are laced with deep suspicion, as though the asker is sure I’m an unemployed simpleton whose only joy is pretending otherwise.

In the past, describing my job has been met with responses like:

“Wow! So do you just wear sweatpants all day?” (Yes. Buttons are the work of Satan.)

“A writer? No but seriously, are you like, a waitress?” (Please throw yourself in the sea.)

and “Do you make enough money to live doing that?” (Uh, sometimes? But again, the sea.)

cape cod social media marketing

I wish more people would react positively. I’d love to be asked something like, “What’s your biggest career goal?” (Being mentioned on a true crime podcast and referred to as “a friend of the show,” obviously.) But I understand the skepticism. My work life isn’t standard. I currently have four jobs, with varying workloads and time commitments. Until this summer, every writing gig I’d ever had was remote. The client I’ve worked with the longest hired me nearly four years ago, and I’ve never met her. And doing my taxes is like trying to locate a complete sentence in a Trump speech. But hey, I’m writing this from bed.

Freelance life is beautifully unusual. So to the curious and the skeptics alike, I present this schedule of a ‘typical’ workday.

7:00 a.m.: My gentle phone alarm rouses me from a drooly slumber. Sometimes I have a Netflix hangover, meaning I’m still emotionally processing whatever happened on The West Wing before I fell asleep. Sometimes I have a real hangover, because red wine is the liquid version of an encouraging hug from Michelle Obama.

7:30 – 8:30 a.m.: While my coffee is brewing, I read the news and try not to scream. I then work my way through a chapter or two of whatever book I’m reading.

8:00 a.m.: I head to the gym or out for a run. You’ll notice the first big chunk of my day involves zero writing. That’s because I am living my truth, and I have spent several years crafting a schedule that allows me to begin trying at things no earlier than 10:00 a.m.

10:00 a.m.: The endorphins are flowing, I’ve showered, and it’s time to earn some money! I begin by editing political petitions for one of the websites I work for. This brings back the trying-not-to-scream theme from earlier.

11:00 a.m.: By this point, I have consumed roughly 8,000 calories, but I eat lunch anyway. It is nobody’s fault but my own, but my brain refuses to work properly unless I can see a snack in my peripheral vision. This very post is being brought to you by a box and a half (or one serving) of Triscuits. At some point, I stopped separating food and work, so I haven’t taken a lunch break in at least two years.

11:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.: This block of time is used differently day to day, but it’s a mixture of proofreading and writing for varied clients and looking for new projects. Not to sound like the coolest person you’ve ever met, but this has included: editing a novel that was pitched to me as “50 Shades of Grey but better” (which it technically was); entertainment reporting; writing lots of articles about books and book news; live-chat academic tutoring; blogging for an international girls’ education non-profit; reporting on local theatre; and editing a weekly financial newsletter. All told, I’ve earned approximately twelve dollars.

4:30 p.m.: Time for second lunch! This is not a joke.

5:00- 7:00 p.m.: I’m still starving. I feel like I’m wasting away, but I soldier on. With an occasional, conservative break to take important an quiz about which type of bread I am, I spend this time putting together a to-do list for the following day (with Monica Geller-esque concentration), responding to emails, then working on the writing that nobody pays me for (yet).

7:00 p.m.: It’s finally time for dinner. On most days, this will be followed roughly two hours later by Dinner II: The Reckoning.