Remember when you started as a freelance writer and you were so excited to work from home?
Now that COVID-19 has forced many families to stay home and stay safe, the luxury has probably started to wear off. The distinction between work life and home life has all but disappeared and this can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
While I have many freelancers and bloggers that I keep in touch with regularly through email and social media, it’s not the same as face-to-face time with a good friend.
I haven’t seen my IRL friend in over a year and, although we do keep in touch through Zoom, the effects of this have certainly taken a toll on me.
However, I have not let this affect my business and I am still thriving as a freelance writer.
Honestly, the current situation has created an ideal circumstance for freelancer writers: We can continue working while feeling safe in our own homes.
But while isolation does lend well to working at home as a freelance writer, it certainly doesn’t dismiss the fact that it can be a lonely lifestyle.
So, if you feel yourself facing loneliness and isolation, here are some ways to overcome these struggles and continue thriving as a freelance writer:
Create a Schedule (And Stick To It!)
When you work at home as a freelance writer, it can be tempting to work all hours of the day.
Your computer is right there and there’s work to be done but it’s important to put yourself on a schedule and stick to it.
Give your workday a start and end time along with short breaks. Use a scheduling tool such as Toggl to help break down your projects in hours to stay on track.
You may feel anxious about completing your work within your “working hours,” so it’s important to establish a writing routine.
Personally, I break my writing routine for client pieces down into seven steps:
- Idea Generation
- Rough Draft
- Edit Again using Grammarly
The more you practice a writing routine like this, the more quickly you’ll be able to produce content.
By sticking to a daily schedule, you’ll have more time in the day to for activities you enjoy. When you start neglecting things like hobbies or self-care, every day becomes monotonous and feelings such as loneliness and isolation will begin to creep in.
And this can be a slippery slope for me! I sometimes realize that every day I’ve just been in my PJ’s and haven’t even changed. So I make an effort to change and then run around doing speed cleaning just to get out of my head and find purpose in my days.
So put your freelance writing away at the end of the day and give yourself something to look forward to!
For more help on managing your time check out my post with 3 schedules to fit your freelance writing in your day!
Get Up And Get Moving
When was the last time you got up and moved around today?
Working as a freelance writer involves a lot of sitting (unless you have a standing desk like my husband!) and as the hours pass by you may not be giving your body the opportunity to move around.
Becoming sedentary throughout the day can affect you both mentally and physically.
Physically, you can start to experience back and neck problems. While there are ways to set up your workspace to relieve or avoid this kind of pain, your body still needs to get up and move around.
When you create your workday schedule, make time for small activity breaks. You could go for a quick walk around the block (fresh air and vitamin D!), do a quick yoga routine or even give your body a good stretch.
Not only will doing so help you physically but it will help to improve your mental state as well.
The pandemic has caused most of us to become homebodies, whether we are nervous to go outside or because the weather has gotten cold.
Either way, getting out into the sunshine can give your mood the positive boost it needs to get rid of those feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Also, getting in some activity throughout the day will help increase your focus and your productivity as a freelance writer.
I’m not sure where you are in the world, but where I live we have experienced some pretty strict lockdown protocols that have drastically limited socializing outside of our household bubble.
As I mentioned earlier, my friend and I have been communicating through Zoom for over a year.
Is it perfect? No, but it’s better than nothing and it creates a better sense of connection than merely texting, messaging or having normal phone calls.
With so many free video calling programs such as Zoom, Skype, Facebook Messenger and Facetime, it’s easy to facilitate face-to-face communication with friends, family and loved ones.
The pandemic has certainly forced us to be creative in the way we maintain important connections.
You can set up a cooking date with a friend where you prepare the same meal over video or use streaming services such as Netflix to have a movie night. Netflix now offers a “party” app that lets you watch a movie at the same time as a friend (without having to do a 3-2-1 countdown before hitting play).
While it’s definitely not the same as the real thing, it will give you something to look forward to after your workday and let you feel connected to other people again.
Create Some Goals
I think the hardest thing about working from home as a freelance writer is that feeling of having nothing to look forward to – every day starts to play out the same as the day before.
When you have goals, however, not only do you have something to work toward but also something you can use to celebrate your victories.
This can be highly motivating, especially when it comes to your freelance work – and your goals don’t even have to be writing-related!
You can set some major personal goals such as getting in shape or quitting a bad habit. However, you can even set smaller goals like cleaning out one room in your house at a time or trying out a new recipe each week.
Having something to work toward will give your day a sense of purpose.
If you do want to set goals for your freelance writing business, consider challenging yourself to pitch to a certain number of clients each week or signing up for an online course.
Whatever goal you choose, make sure it follows the SMART rules:
When you know exactly what you are working toward, give yourself a timeframe and can see your progress, you’ll be more motivated to continue.
And this sense of motivation and achievement can help you feel less isolated and alone.
Play Some Music
Sometimes having some music in the background while you are working can help you feel less lonely as a freelance writer.
Some non-distracting music can also help fill in the empty space around you and keep you focused on your work.
I will caution you from leaving on the TV or putting on music that will take your mind off your work. You want to stay productive so you can leave your work at the end of the day without worry!
So what are the best types of music to listen to while you’re writing?
Instrumental music and music without lyrics have been proven to activate both sides of your brain, increasing memory and focus so you can opt for some classical music or some meditative tunes. Sometimes I love to throw on some relaxing movie scores!
YouTube has some great channels for writer-friendly music such as Meditative Mind, Halidon Music and Gravity Music but if you have music services such as Amazon Music or Spotify, you can find some great playlists and stations there as well.
As I said, the right music will increase your focus and productivity but will make your workspace seem far less lonely.
I also incorporate some upbeat music when I do graphic design or tasks that don’t require much thinking – just doing.
If you need a more ambient feel, check out audio that replicates popular writing nooks such as libraries and coffee shops.
Face Your Feelings of Loneliness
Loneliness is just that: a feeling. It’s an unpleasant emotional response to isolation and a universal human emotion that is unique to each individual.
And that feeling might make you hate freelance writing.
However, because it is an emotion and not a state of being, it can be confronted and dealt with. In essence, loneliness is only temporary.
One way of dealing with loneliness, or any unwanted emotion, is to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness will help you live in the present moment instead of focusing on all of the “what-ifs” about the past and future.
You can also help cope with feelings of loneliness and isolation as a freelance writer by taking a break from social media.
Yes, it sounds counterintuitive since apps such as Facebook sometimes help us feel connected to other people, but you may find that you are comparing yourself to others who seem to have a less lonely life.
Remember that what people show the world on social media is not necessarily what their reality is really like.
But sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between what is real and what is not on social media.
Do yourself a favor and stay off Facebook for a week and see how you feel!
(Unless you run part of your business on Facebook, then you’ll have to find the fortitude to keep your eyes off your friends’ updates and feeds.)
How Loneliness Can Affect Your Health
Is there an end to this pandemic?
One certainly seems to be in sight but we have no definitive timeframe of when things will go back to normal.
Maybe you’ve resolved yourself to wait out the storm and suffer in your loneliness until it’s all over.
You don’t have to do that and you really shouldn’t do that. Loneliness can negatively impact your health, leading to feelings of depression and anxiety.
It can also cause you to inadvertently push people away who want to help and support you.
Trying to crutch on your freelance writing work as a way to get through this is not going to benefit you in the end. You may end up losing focus and even begin to not like your work.
The best thing you can do when faced with loneliness and isolation as a freelance writer is to try and maintain a balance between work and what fulfills you.
You may not be able to participate in the activities that used to make you happy, but it’s worth trying new things and finding new ways of connecting.
Loneliness and Isolation as a Freelance Writer
I can completely understand how, even though you work from home, you feel isolated and alone.
I like the saying that we are all facing the same storm in different boats. My boat may not look like yours, but we are all navigating these strange times together.
So I hope these tips help you overcome those feelings and keep thriving as a freelance writer!
Just make sure at the end of the day that you have something to look forward to. It may not be the same things you enjoyed before the pandemic, but there are definitely new opportunities and activities to explore!
How are you coping as a freelance writer during COVID-19?
How do you deal with your feelings of loneliness and isolation?
Share your thoughts with me!