Might surprise you that working as a writer is a life fraught with peril and panic.
Working as a writer, the worst danger, you’d think, might be getting a paper cut. Of course that COULD happen, if you actually ever touched real paper. Which I don’t. In fact, I write on paper so infrequently that my once somewhat pretty penmanship now resembles the illegible scrawling of a med student.
So, paper cuts are out.
But there’s still danger, peril, and panic in this field. To celebrate International Panic Day, how about we look at the top ten (real and imaginary) causes of panic for freelance writers:
- Amnesia. Know those recurring nightmares where you’ve skipped a class all semester and now need to take the final? You know, the one where you’re not prepared, have no idea where the class meets, and know that if you fail this, you don’t graduate? Yeah, that one. In freelance writer world, this shows up as the project you totally forgot you were supposed to be working on. Your client ordered it some way that’s not the norm (maybe on the phone), you agreed to do it, and then totally spaced it. Now you’ve just received a message asking about the status of the project… and your heart is in your throat.
- Accidental Draft Delivery. You create a working document full of research, notes, and all kinds of mess. Works for you as you craft your client’s piece, because you just bounce back and forth from the working doc to the real one, happily working along. All’s well until you deliver the project and get an email reply that’s like “HUHHHHH?” and you realize you sent your client the working doc in all it’s train-wreck-y horribleness.
- Accidental Reply. You’ve got a client who’s on the bubble. You’re debating whether to persevere on their godawful project or to punt, eat it, and fire them. You vent to a friend or seek advice from another writer by forwarding the latest boneheaded email you just received from the client. You think. But what really happened was instead of forwarding, you actually replied to the client. No take-backs. No do-overs.
- Poof. You’re working – probably on a truly odious project. You’re about 95% done, and swearing to yourself you’ll never write another piece on XYZ if you can just get through this one. All of a sudden, BLOOP. Your document is gone. You swear you saved it, but it’s nowhere.
- Graceful. You’re walking through Starbucks with your venti salted caramel delight, eyeing the last comfy chair near an outlet. You’re so focused on getting over there that you don’t notice the wet spot on the floor, slip in it, drop your laptop (which for some stupid reason you were carrying loose), it springs open, and your coffee spills all over it.
- Premature Project Completion. You have a long conversation with a client about a new project he wants you to do. You’ve got all the info needed, and dig in. Probably your best work ever! You deliver with a flourish, and get an email response back saying, “Um, thank you, but I never actually gave you the green light on this. I changed my mind and don’t need it after all. But thank you!”
- Airport Thwart. You’re running behind on some projects and have a big trip planned. No problem, you figure, you’ll just work like crazy in the airport and on the plane. Trouble is, turns out your airport doesn’t have wifi – free or paid. And you still need a ton of research before you can write.
- Math Error. OK, anything with math is potentially panic-worthy. But what if you invoice your client, get paid, THEN realize you had the mother of all math goofs on that invoice such that you shorted yourself big time? How idiotic will you feel going back to said client saying, “Well, I can’t do Math, but at least I can write.”
- Go To Glitch. You’re doing a screen share with a client and foolishly forget to exit all the other tabs open on your browser. Oh, any number of panic-worthy things could happen next. Will leave that one to your own nightmarish imagination.
- Off the Record. You’re commissioned to interview someone. A big wig. You’re nervous as could be. It’s all you can manage to just not puke while you’re asking questions. So instead of taking notes, you focus on the questions and just let your voice recorder catch all the answers. Except it doesn’t. Because you forgot to turn it on. And then your client (and the interviewee) ask for a copy of the recording.
OK, so, happy International Panic Day!
Hopefully these disasters will live only in your nightmares, never in reality.