Creative Spotlight: 7 Tips for Dealing With Freelance Loneliness

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December 2, 2016 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

If you’ve been a freelance writer for any amount of time, you’ve probably experience freelance loneliness at some point. Unless you work with kids at home or collaborate with a few other professionals, freelancing can be a lonely profession. But the good news is, with a little imagination and creativity, you can take steps to help alleviate freelance loneliness. Here are seven tips to help:

1. Get a Parrot

Why not have a pet you can have a conversation with? Cats are alright, but they can be so moody, and all they want to do is sleep anyway. Dogs, well let’s face it, when it comes to witty repartee they’re just boring. It’s all about chasing rabbits and which brand of dry dog food is best with them. No, a talking bird is the way to go. And it turns out that there are many species of birds that are capable of vocalizing, you’re not limited to just parrots and mynah birds. Some are better at it than others of course. Some speak quietly, while others are noisy and obnoxious. Some can hold a conversation of sorts.

The great thing is, the bird will only say what you teach it to. So if you just want a sympathetic soul around to ask you how your day is going, or to tell you what an inspired writer you are, that’s perfectly doable. But be advised, they’ll also pick up all those naughty epithets they hear while you’re grinding out that fourth revision, and they’ll repeat them at the most unexpected of times, which can be embarrassing in mixed company.

2. Take Walks and Talk to Yourself

This is actually a quite useful practice in more ways than one. After all, who’s a more fascinating conversationalist than you? Recent research has shown that not only is talking to yourself not a sign of insanity (no, really!) it’s also an indication of high intelligence, and has several psychological benefits. It’s a great way a to focus and sort out the individual elements of a problem, such as when you’re dealing with writer’s block.

Of course, talking to yourself will inevitably cause some uncomfortable and embarrassing moments when someone catches you doing it. They’ll probably suspect you’re crazy. But hey, you’re a writer, what do you care? It might even enhance your reputation and lead to more gigs.

3. Listen to Talk Radio

Lot of writers listen to music while they write of course, though some prefer absolute silence. But nothing makes you feel like you’re in the society of other people like talk radio. And it doesn’t tempt you to watch it like a TV blaring in the background does.

Oh sure, depending on your political persuasion, you might absolutely hate the things the host is saying, but venting pent-up frustrations at the radio is therapeutic too. But usually you won’t pay much attention to the content while you’re concentrating on your work, it’s just a convenient way to simulate having actual, real live people around you.

4. Get Out of the House

Yes, you’ve got deadlines looming and a ton of work to do, and growing as a freelance writer, it often seems that if your aren’t constantly working, your next gig might be selling pencils on the street corner out of your new digs, a cardboard box. But your mental health is important too. Set aside some time out of your work schedule just to get out and be around other people, even if it’s just window shopping at the mall or having a drink in the local watering hole. There’s almost certainly a local book club in your area, or better yet a writer’s group, opportunities to actually meet and interact with people who not only share the same interests as you, but are probably experiencing the same feelings of loneliness that you are.

5. Network Online With Other Freelancers

Forget doom scrolling! Use social networks to your advantage and reach out to others in the freelance writing field. Join conversations, leave feedback on work you’re inspired by, and get active in a professional network. Find opportunities to collaborate, too, even if it’s just for a hobby project. You’ll have the benefits of human contact and creative engagement, which can definitely help combat freelancer loneliness. Plus, you just might find the right influencer for building your freelance brand.

6. Make Sock Puppets

Along the same lines as an imaginary friend, but better, because they have a face, kind of. Like an imaginary friend, they don’t eat much or mess up the house. Unlike the imaginary friend, they’ll go away into a drawer when you want them to, whereas sometimes the imaginary friend won’t, which can be pretty creepy. They aren’t demanding like a pet can be, and making sock puppets can potentially be a very lucrative sideline. Don’t believe it? Check out Kukla, Fran, and Ollie.

7. Make Social Plans

One of the best things about freelancing is the ability to create your own schedule. That said, it can still be tough to make time to visit friends and family, even on weekends or off times when you’d think you’d have more availability. But the truth is, frequent plans with close friends or family can be extremely beneficial for mental health and well-being. Make time to go out to dinner with friends or loved ones, catch some live music, or just get out and about and refresh.

Occasional mild feelings of freelance loneliness are just a part of a writer’s life, and they can be managed with a little effort and some help from your friends. But chronic loneliness can lead to some serious problems, including sleep issues, depression, and anxiety. If you start to feel like your loneliness is becoming harmful, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone to talk to about it, whether that be a relative, a close friend, or even a professional therapist. Don’t overlook the many forums out there for freelancers, where you’ll undoubtedly find lots of people who are dealing with freelance loneliness too.

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