So you’re interested in becoming a freelancer? First, welcome to the club! While it’s far from exclusive (as it turns out, the barrier to entry is pretty low), it’s a fun society of risk-takers, free-thinkers, and non-settlers.
From what I can gather, there are two types of people who read articles on becoming a freelancer: The first are young people who are newly-graduated, under-employed, or in the infancy of their careers; the second are people looking to make a big life change. Either way, to go at it alone is daunting, so you’ll need to get your shit together.
In an old bio of mine you’ll find the following few lines:
I just like creating things… The result has been about 10 years of learning by doing, and developing a career that isn’t easy to summarize except to use the word “creative.” (At some point “creative” became a noun, which is good for me I guess.)
I was inspired to explore that last idea after I realized I had taken a point of view on this noun, and found myself trying to cleverly expand upon it. After all, this website is called Matt Williams Creative. While, in that context it’s used pretty ambiguously, what does it mean to be “a creative?”
I’ve been studying and performing improv for almost two years. Not only did I fall in love with the craft, but it has changed my life. I think everyone, everyone, should take an improv class. It has taught me a lot about myself, and it’s principles — from listening and agreeing to commitment and playing — have proven applicable at work, at home, hanging out with friends, networking, etc. Below are lessons and takeaways from the world of improv that apply to life in general.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) shares her unique insight into creativity and inspiration in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Rich with personal stories and anecdotes, Gilbert encourages readers to live creatively, let go of fear, and respect the mystery of inspiration. The book is wonderfully geared towards those of us who live (or wish to live) creative lives, but is perfectly suited for anyone with any kind of creative passion.
“I’m starting a blog.”
As I say it, I get a feeling in my innards like the first time I tried to say “I love you.” There’s an air of excitement, but I’m not sure what the words coming out of my mouth actually mean. I feel like I’m a child stepping into the shoes of adults, trying something silly with reckless abandon.
The notion of a “blogger” conjures up an image of a self-indulgent millennial with nothing better to do. It’s like a podcast, only with a smaller barrier to entry. That said, there are some amazing podcasts I listen to — and some amazing blogs I read!
Why then does saying “I have a blog” feel so icky?
I think because literally anyone with an internet connection can do it, the word has been diluted by adjectives: “Mommy” blogger; “DIY” blogger; or my personal favorite “Lifestyle” blogger.
If I’m being honest, I think my discomfort stems from fear, as well as one nagging question: “Why would anyone give a damn what I have to say?”
That’s a relevant question. People may not care at all. And what is an outlet with no audience — a journal? (While that would probably garner a lot more clicks, trust me, most things in my journal will not be shared here.) If not a journal, then maybe this is just an online database of meanderings from someone not using his time wisely.
The reality is this:
I care what people think.
I wish I didn’t. Sometimes I act as though I don’t. But I do. A little personal reflection (and online testing) revealed that fact to me — though I knew that before personally reflecting and taking online tests. According to my enneagram, I’m a 3 (Performer) with a 4 (Romantic) wing. Meaning I have a need to express myself, but I’m very sensitive to criticism. Great.
You see, I primarily consider myself an artist. This comes with a weird juxtaposition of extroversion against introversion. On one hand, I have the need to express my ideas to the world; on the other, I really enjoy being inside my head (when all is going well in there). I like thinking, pondering, questioning, and creating alone. But again, that all needs to come out somehow. In the words of Sigmund Freud:
“The artist has… an introverted disposition and has not far to go to become neurotic.”
Obvious fears about putting myself out there aside, it does seem a little masturbatory, doesn’t it? Here I am trying to cut through the noise of the internet because “I have a voice and something to say!” Whatever happened to just doing work, not being an asshole, and living your life without the need to share everything?
The sharing culture
Since I’ve gone down this rabbit hole in my head, let me say this: I’m uncomfortable with the culture of sharing and social media. I really am. And the irony is, when asked about that very subject, I respond with the one thing I fear will be said to me about writing a blog: “Who gives a shit?”
I don’t care about your baby or your dog or your vacation or your wedding or your lunch or your workout. And I certainly don’t need real-time updates about your life and your thoughts. What’s more, I don’t have time for the people who do care.
And yet here I am asking them to. Maybe I’m a self-indulgent millennial after all.
All I can say is that I’m going to try to utilize the positive aspects of the sharing culture. Sharing meaningful things, things that may connect people, or at least things that have the potential to bring people joy.
And so… a blog.
I do consider myself a writer, among the other things I do, to which I think the skill of writing is an integral part. The only way to get better at something is to do it. And I should do it. I want to do it, and no one is stopping me. To quote the wonderful Elizabeth Gilbert:
“Do it. Who cares? It’s your birthright as a human being, so do it with a cheerful heart.”
And so I shall. And I will do my best to bury any narcissistic tendencies that make my brain spasm when I wonder if people are reading. I hope you do. I hope you enjoy it. And I even hope you share.