Thursday, October 27, 2011

The more the merrier?

Some Gainfully Employed may be able to work 9 to 5, then go home and relax. They may be able to free their minds, put their feet up and not worry about what’s still on their plate -- except for dinner. Some have two jobs and/or other obligations, and need to summon the energy and discipline to take those on after putting in many hours at the office.

The Gainfully Unemployed often juggle multiple projects and have little control over when or how many additional opportunities will arise or how much notice we’ll get. When jobs and auditions come in, my instinct is to say “yes” (unless the terms are egregious, i.e., $100 for a national TV commercial). Not only because I appreciate and enjoy the work and the income, but because I don’t want the client/agent/producer to choose someone else. Not this time or the next. And if an upcoming week happens to be slower, I might regret passing on a prospect.

Some days, fitting in last minute auditions and jobs can be a challenge. I’ve tried being in two places at once … getting permission to leave one gig during lunch to pop in for rehearsal at another. That can be costly (cabs or parking lots vs. walking, taking the bus or finding street parking) and nerve-wracking, if I'm constantly checking my watch to make sure I have enough time to get back.

Too much work and socializing in one day can also be hard on my voice. Recently I had a singing rehearsal and a VO job a couple of hours later. I wasn’t sure how long the recording session would last, nor did I get a script in advance so I could see how much copy I had. Then a client called that morning with a rush VO job, which I did from home. The afternoon job turned out to be two hours with only a short break. By the end, my throat was starting to get scratchy. Maybe additional warm up exercises and vocal care (hydration, throat spray, lozenges, etc.) will help in the future.

A long day on set is usually interesting and enjoyable, but can be exhausting. So if I have an upcoming deadline for, say, a writing project, or if I’ve made plans to go out, do I push myself to do it all or not … and fall behind or miss out on the fun?

Each of us can find the balance between pushing ourselves and taking an appropriate break.   

Create Margin in Your Overly Busy Life

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Where is your time spent? 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Work before play?

Some freelancers justify playing instead of working by saying they became a freelancer so they didn’t have to clock in at an office or report to a boss. They may sleep in, take long lunches, and/or spend hours on personal pursuits. Maybe some can wile away the hours but still earn a good living and save. Others may choose or defensively rationalize getting less done and earning less than their full potential.

I tend to believe that because I’m a freelancer, I should work more than 9 to 5. And to me work includes preparing for the future of my career and for retirement, not just finishing jobs on deadline. Particularly in this economy…when so many who want to be gainfully employed aren’t, I’m even more grateful for every paying gig.

While the “work first” approach helps keep money and projects coming in, it can also lead to working too many hours a day. Yet even as my eyes blur from staring at waveforms and words on my monitor, I think about putting more irons in the fire. I wonder if I should take a break from any enjoyable but “free” pursuits such as improv teams, committees or chorus. Instead of going out on a given night, should I conserve energy for a busy tomorrow?

Bookings can be last minute. I’ve gotten emails after 9PM the night before, one as late as 11:20PM. Of course I can say I’m not available, but I’d rather not turn down a client...even if I already had a lot on tap that day. Fortunately a lot of my work happens to be fun, but that isn’t quite the same as actual play or relaxing.

Perhaps at times I put more pressure on myself to be productive than I need to. But if I don’t, who will? 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Spirit of Christmas Anthology

I've published assorted freelance articles, but I'm pleased to announce my first contribution to a book.  It's "The Scrinch," a true, short story in the St. Martin's anthology, The Spirit of Christmas, foreword by Debbie Macomber, which releases October 25th.

Here's the press release:

Publication date:
October 25, 2011
Contact: Jessica Preeg(646) 307-5568

THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS (St. Martin’s Press, October 25, 2011) is an inspiring collection of true stories from real-life people who have experienced such moments where the meaning of the season becomes undoubtedly clear. A man mailing gifts at the post office witnesses a moving scene that changes his life forever. An unhappy couple is drifting further apart…until a special Christmas gift allows them to renew their love and mend their fractured marriage. And a father tries to keep the spirit of Christmas alive for his son with a grand gesture--a gesture that will be remembered by his family and many others for years to come.

With a forward by bestselling author Debbie Macomber, who is widely considered the “Official Storyteller of Christmas,” THE SPIRIT OF CHISTMAS is filled with magic, wonder and deep meaning. It’s impossible for these stories not to touch your heart. I look forward to your coverage.

CECIL MURPHEY is the co-author of the New York Times bestseller, 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN. He has published 108 books and lectures widely. MARLEY GIBSON has written several young adult novels for both Penguin Group and Houghton Mifflin. They have collaborated on a previous Christmas book for St. Martin's Press, CHRISTMAS MIRACLES.


Jessica Preeg, Publicity

T: 646-307-5568/ E:

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Day by Day

Those who love showtunes (like I do) will immediately think of Godspell when they read the title of today's post.  But I don't have Stephen Schwartz's musical in mind. I'm thinking about how the random flow of work and schedule changes out of our control impact the Gainfully Unemployed.  How our plans for a given day can change at the drop of a hat.

For example, I found out that at around 11:15 that a print job I was supposed to do in Evanston had to be postponed because of problems with the camera.  Some freelancers may relish such cancellations, especially when the weather is as perfect as it is today, and view them as an opportunity to have fun.  Others, like me, usually prefer to be productive instead of playing hooky.  I now have several more hours to work on a VO job that arrived yesterday.  The sooner I finish it, the sooner I can start on the next project. 

Similarly, if we don't have impending deadlines, it's easy for the GU to schedule what seems like a full day...breakfast with one friend, lunch with another.  Add a doctor's appointment followed by that errand we've been meaning to run.  So we're busy, because our calendar is full and we're running from place to place.  But is that the best use of our time?

We don't report to a boss, and often have the freedom to choose whether to work or play.  I believe that relying on this freedom and giving into the temptation to take off (or fritter away hours on the Internet, Facebook, Twitter or other social media) too often can lead to less work coming in and thus to self-sabotage of our success.  Being a freelancer is a privilege, not a right, IMO.  If I don't have a project on my plate today, I can use that time to grow my business, to self-market and put more irons in the fire.

On occasion, however, I think freelancers should take advantage of the fact that our time cards are flexible.  One solution is to devote a portion of any found time from cancellations/rescheduling to additional work, and a portion to spontaneity and relaxation.  I've made progress on my VO project, so I'm going to enjoy part of the day...outside, not at my computer.  And run that errand while I'm out and about.