August 03, 2015

The Tale of the Many Troubles in a Freelancer's Life

It has been more than a month. It wasn't easy to convince myself that I will quit the world's best media organization, Disney, to freelance. Friends and family were worried that the insanity they always sensed around me had probably materialized. My parents, sister and boyfriend, thankfully understood that I was simply doing the right thing and with their support, I gulped back the fear and took the big bungee jump into freelancing.

It has not been easy!

Thankfully, I didn't expect it to be and that made all the difference. I knew it would take at least three-four months for the money to be sorted and schedule to be clockwork. But I must say, the problems I encountered were of an entirely different and amusing nature.

What do I eat?!?
If you know me, you know how much I love good food! At work, there was always some diet chivda or biscuit or a canteen at my beck and call. There were assistants who I had to nod at who would deliver instantly, a cup of piping hot chai or tomato soup or what I had grown to depend upon- the Cafe Coffee Day cappucino. With about 4 machines a floor, I was in paradise. Once I began to freelance, I began to encounter the problems of staying at home in a locality that wouldn't deliver unless you order a minimum of Rs.500 worth goods. I never had anything to snack on!

I have begun to furiously research food blogs and bug my friends for snack recipes. Instagram helps immensely, as well. From toasted flax seeds, watermelon seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds to mug-cakes and microwaved potato chips - I am trying them all! 

If you are plunging into the freelancer life, while sorting finances, get hold of a recipe binder and start jotting down inexpensive (and healthy!) snacks you can make at home. It helps and how! Drink plenty of water and do not forget to try and get some exercise alongside.

Bad, Bad Server! No donut for you!
Yet another bogeyman I have been facing is erratic internet connection. Ever time it fails, I fight my urge to fling my Macbook out of my balcony (yes! I am blessed with a balcony in Bombay). I must concede, I have tried everything from screaming, threatening and wheedling the customer care agents. Yet there are days when the net simply rebels like I do with my parents. 

There just aren't enough places in Bombay where you get good free wi-fi. What you can figure out are places like libraries (that let you use laptops) or offices and homes of friends' where you could put up to get the work done. It helps to get a good data dongle as a backup to your broadband. However, I am yet to follow my own sound advice and hence, I continue to suffer.

No time!
The most irritating part of freelancing is the seamlessness of time. I was one of those boring kids who wrote 'You must exercise your will power' on her wall for reasons I can't seem to remember. But some how, it has helped me over the years only a few times! (Ha! Assumed it helped every single time, eh?)

I find it immensely difficult to concentrate and write. I get distracted by articles and keep reading stuff online for hours! Thankfully, I am not a social media addict and spend not more than 10 minutes collectively in a day on it. However, the fascinating universe that the web weaves always traps me in one of its silvery threads. What I have begun to do, is find the exact time when I function the best. Mornings are great for me and so are the slow quiet afternoons. Towards night, my screws begin to loosen up and I drift. Find your optimum productivity slots and use the many million apps and sites (I am trying Moosti now. In the past, Ommwriter has worked wonders) to help you face this demon.

Take a break!
I never anticipated how time eats itself up and the same crazy loop of days haunt you with their "You have not finished even one article" taunts. However, I try not to work more than my stipulated hours in the day. NO MATTER WHAT! It is very important that you find a way to unwind whether you have been productive or been staring at beautiful pictures of your dream holiday location. 

Thankfully, this needs no motivation. I have a few rules - I cook at least a few times a week. Since my maid leaves in the morning, I have no choice but to make dinner from what she has prepped for me (unless I get damn lazy and order). I am experimenting with new types of pastas and salads. I occasionally hound the net for some recipes with whatever I have in stock. Either way, I have had some yummy food made by my own hands in recent times.

I also watch a movie a day. This has been a practice I have maintained for almost a year now. If not a movie, at least an episode of a sitcom is a prerequisite watching. This is an immense source of joy to me! 

I have restarted sketching and uploading it on Instagram (cooking, art and photography. No selfies). There is something calming about colours and good stationery. I intend to do this as often as possible.

These apart, I have no idea what other crazy conundrums await me on this path. Not many websites tell you about how hungry you get when you work all by yourself and how important it is to unwind EVERYDAY to feel a balance. I hope to try and put these here so similar sufferers can take heart again. Meanwhile, I wish myself and all other lone rangers out there, the best on the way. May the force, creativity, money and good food be with us!

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Maira Gall