Hello friends! I’m back from doing some travel (San Fran for work, Tahoe for play) and also just moved into a new apartment with my best friend who also happens to cook the best Italian food you’ve ever tasted.
I thought I’d share a little bit about what my days are like as I’m in a weird hiatus period for the TV show I work on, which is more and more the norm for those of us who work on shows with short orders that don’t fit into the traditional, 22-episode broadcast television season.
When I’m not working in a writers’ room, I work on my own projects and moonlight as a ghostwriter. My bread and butter is ghostwriting people’s memoirs and helping them find the right words to tell their stories. I work for fascinating clients I can’t really talk about here, but they include accomplished lawyers, former professional athletes, and people dealing with great loss and tragedy and finding strength through their experiences.
Oh, and I also write blog posts and short stories and op-eds for various companies and publications, so I keep busy. What’s nice is that I only take on work I believe in, and every writing project I’m working on I love. I also get to make my own schedule, which is so important.
Here’s a day-in-the-life of what it’s like being a freelance writer/ghostwriter:
//7am: coffee & planning the day
I have a Google home, so as soon as I wake up I tell it “good morning” and it turns on all my lights, my coffeemaker in the kitchen, and starts playing the news. (Creepy or efficient? Probably both but the faster I can get caffeinated the better my morning is.) It takes about 30 seconds of hearing about how much of a mess the world is in to get me to get out of bed and stumbling toward the coffee that’s waiting for me in the kitchen.
Coffee in hand, I immediately get to work plotting out my day. I use a BestSelf journal to track habits, record what I’m grateful for, and set my intentions and goals for the day. I’ve been using these for the past six months and love the pen-and-paper organization. I always have a mess of projects, to-do list items, habits, and other responsibilities I need to hold myself accountable to get done. It’s important to me to get everything I have to do on paper and out of my head so I can clear up brainspace for the work I have to do.
Since I freelance for my main source of income, I track my hours to make sure I’m reaching my income goals in this book, too. I color code using green for freelance work, blue for writing projects, purple for personal things, and black for other things I’m up to.
After I plan my day, I get to work on the most important task I need to accomplish first. Today, that’s submitting a story proposal to a magazine I’m writing short stories for, followed by putting together an outline for a memoir I’m ghostwriting.
//10am: breakfast on the patio & emails
We have a little garden on our patio with different herbs, so I make an egg sandwich with avocado, spinach, salsa, and fresh basil from our basil plant, all on a whole wheat English muffin. I try and sit out on our patio each morning before the summer heat hits to get some fresh air. My roommate usually joins me, and our neighbors say hi to us (we live in a complex with some really amazing, friendly people!) Occasionally, the nice people who live next to us will bring us fresh fruit. We’re making baked goods this week to give to them, also. (Trying to pay it forward!)
After breakfast, I check emails, get in a quick workout, and then hop on a call with a client about a kickstarter campaign I’m working on for her new product.
//12pm: Upwork Top Rated Freelancers Lunch
I freelance on Upwork, this great platform that connects freelancers and those looking to hire us. As a Top Rated Freelancer, I get invited to special seminars and workshops. At noon, I head to the free luncheon at Home Cafe in Silverlake. We all daydrink and talk about our war stories in the freelance world, and I meet some truly lovely people (several of whom work in the industry — it IS Los Angeles, after all) and swap business cards.
I prefer luncheons like this to mixers because you can actually have conversations with people, and don’t feel pressured to move on and meet somebody new every few minutes. I also love meeting other freelancers and hearing about their different approaches to this weird little lifestyle we’ve all created for ourselves.
//3pm: writing blog posts & playing guitar
I get home from the lunch meeting at 3pm, and after spending a few minutes basking in the air conditioning, make myself some iced tea and sit down at my desk. Feeling energized after the workshop, I work on a set of blog posts for a former professional athlete I do writing work for.
I also hop on the phone with a new potential client. I’m *almost* at capacity for my client list (I have about 8 regular clients who give me steady work, plus a few more that come and go with assignments every so often) but this project caught my eye, so I couldn’t help but take the interview. I always meet deadlines and manage to pick clients pretty well, but it still is a bit of a balancing act to hit my income goals while also carving out enough time to work on my own creative projects. It’s still a bit trial-and-error, but having a weekly writers’ group with other really inspiring writers helps me stay focused on why I’m here in LA.
My billable hours vary per day — I try and shoot for 4-6 hours/day so that I can preserve my weekends, but what usually ends up happening is that I’ll skip a weekday to go on meetings or do something fun, and need to make up those hours on the weekend. Outside of my billable hours, I also spend time doing work-related things like applying for new assignments on Upwork, or doing research for an assignment that I don’t have to do for a client but want to spend my own time doing so that I can be a better writer.
For example, I’ve been learning more about finance and investing for a new client I have. I’m doing that research outside of my billable hours because it interests me, and doing that research also helps me do better work for him. What’s nice about having such a diverse group of clients is that I’m constantly trying to learn more about them and their world, which leads to some interesting research. I charge $60/hour for my services, so I also want to make sure I’m as knowledgeable as possible on the subject I’m writing about so I can deliver my clients the highest quality work that I can, even if it means some extra work outside of billable hours for my own edification. So far, so good!
During my breaks between writing, I practice guitar. I used to play as a kid, and recently picked it back up again. I can’t play Wonderwall yet (yes, I’m going to be that person), but I’ve at least moved beyond Smoke on the Water. I’m learning how to play Riptide by Vance Joy right now.
//6pm: quick dinner & getting ready
My cat emerges from the nap she’s been taking under my bed all day and I play with her as I heat up the shrimp taco bowl I meal-prepped earlier in the week. She’s nocturnal (like I can be sometimes) and she’s just waking up for her day.
I have a mixer tonight so I throw on whatever clothes I have in reach that won’t make me melt in the heatwave. I’m fashionable I guess? I don’t really care a whole lot about make-up or clothes and have staples I just wear over and over again. My roommate and I went thrift shopping at the beginning of the summer and I’ve just been wearing those clothes on loop (thank the lord for Buffalo Exchange.)
I’m also wearing a scarf that a customer gave to my roommate. He had asked the customer where she got the scarf since he thought it would look good on me, and the customer just gave the scarf to him to give to me which was so sweet.
//7pm: Television Academy Summer Soiree
Back at USC, we were nominated twice for the College Television Emmy at the Television Academy for a show I co-created and was an Executive Producer on. The TV Academy has mixers with program alumni and former nominees every few months, and I always try to go. I love meeting other creatives (and the fancy hors d’oeuvre and open bar doesn’t hurt, either.)
This mixer is at the Liason in Hollywood. I take an Uber there because anyone who tries parking off of Hollywood Boulevard severely underestimates a) how bad tourists are at crossing streets, and b) how overpriced the parking garages are.
I meet a French set designer, some friendly writers, and a few other nice people. Mixers in loud nightclubs are not the greatest place for a conversation, but it’s still a good time.
//9pm: writing & winding down
I get home and shed my heels and mixer clothes. My roommate’s cooking some sort of meat dish he’s trying to get me to admit smells good (I’m a pescatarian, so it doesn’t) and we talk about important life things like what vegetable combinations will make a good juice.
I make some tea and get settled in front of my computer again to do some writing. I feel most creative at night, so I do most of my fun, non-freelance writing after dinners. I’m working on a novella, a pilot, and an immersive theater experience right now, so each night I pick one of the three to focus on. Even if I’m only doing some freewriting or journaling, I write every day with few exceptions. It helps to keep me sharp and keep all the balls in the air — otherwise I feel guilty and feel massively behind and frustrated when I don’t carve out time for what I care about.
Before bed, I also do some yoga with my cat and then read a bit of whatever book I’m on. I try and read every day also, whether that’s an audiobook while I’m stuck in traffic or right before I go to sleep. My recent favorite reads include The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris for encouraging people to break out of the 9-to-5 mentality, and Paulo Coehlo’s The Spy, a great novelization of Mata Hari’s life.
Then, as I feel myself drifting off, I turn on a Headspace meditation (my favorite meditation app) and tell my Google home to turn off all the lights, and then do it all over again.
//the ideal day in and day out
What’s so lovely about being able to set my own schedule is that every day is a bit different. The rest of this week I’m going to my usual salsa dancing class, a street art exhibit, throwing a game night, and doing my weekly things like meeting with my writing partner at our favorite coffeeshop and also going to my writing group. I’m going on a few dates and networking drinks, and I’ve got some travel plans I’m trying to solidify, too. I live a very full life, but it’s also filled with everything and everyone I care about.
I’m so very lucky I found what I was good at and that I’m able to do it full-time in between working in writers’ rooms. I’m also passionate about helping others do the same, too. If you’re interested in getting into freelance writing, I offer coaching services. Reach out to me on my contact page if you’re interested!