One day shortly after I became a full-time freelance writer, I stopped working mid-morning, hopped on my bicycle, and made three stops around town: my accountant’s office, the post office, and the bank. While I was out, I saw a friend walking outsider of her office. “Getting a little exercise?” she asked. And I was. It was a beautiful day, and the brisk pace of my peddling had produced a gleam of perspiration on my brow. But I wasn’t taking a break. I was working.
That’s the thing I’ve been most surprised (and frustrated) about in my freelance writing career: all the time I have to spend NOT writing. Like most jobs, there are lots of administrative tasks that accompany my work. But since I am self-employed, it’s up to me to make sure they get done.
I haven’t gotten my own system down perfectly, and even though I try hard to plan for both the writing and non-writing tasks of my day, my calendar doesn’t reflect the ratio perfectly. But if I had to make an educated guess, I’d say it’s about a three-to-one ratio. For every three hours of writing or editing I do, there’s about an hour of other tasks required.
You don’t have to be a full-time or self-employed writer to know the frustration of “wasting” your writing time doing something other than writing, even if it’s related to your writing. What’s most frustrating, though, is when you didn’t realize these tasks needed to be done and so you didn’t plan for them. Remove the surprise factor, and maybe these non-writing tasks aren’t quite as irritating.