Peggy Bechko: Trippin’ Out


by Peggy Bechko

So, when you’re a freelance writer, and making your living that way, maybe not yet top of the heap, how do you plan for a vacation (which believe me you’re going to dearly need)?

Like me, I’m about to head off to Las Vegas with my husband to celebrate our anniversary.

You just go, right? Nobody to tell you you can’t. No boss, no nine to five, no restrictions on your time. It’s okay, pack your bags!

Ah, but wait, not so fast. The down side is the obvious one, no workie no pay! You don’t have the restrictions of a regular job, but neither do you have paid time off or sick leave or insurance or any of those other perks many jobs come with. What you do have are projects that probably have deadlines. And, if you’re away from your work space any contacts for new gigs will be delayed or evaporate in your absence.

Well, the being away and losing contacts can be remedied these days with a cell phone and/or tablet (providing you can get a connection wherever you go) but that means you have to be ‘in touch’ even when you’re trying to relax on vacation.

Hmm, troublesome, but not overwhelming.

I used to do the cell phone and tablet thing. I’ve reached the point where I don’t any more. I pretty much cut myself off from electronics when I take a break. Because isn’t that what makes the break real?

But if you haven’t reached that point yet, remember, most things can be politely and temporarily put off. You can do a juggling act online. Or you can just cut yourself off like me and let things fall where they may. And if you lose a gig because of a vacation, well that’s life, you DO need time off occasionally despite what others may tell you and despite the rather peculiar ‘work ethic’ we’ve developed in this country. 24/7 is great!

Uh, no, it’s not.

But what about that money thing? Especially if you’re on a vacation where expenses are involved and not just visiting relatives and staying free at their house. You DO need money and that ‘no pay for no work’ gap is going to hit you some time. It probably won’t be right away when you’re actually enjoying yourself, but it will later so you better plan for it.
Until you’re a very highly paid freelancer these are the things that can really pinch.

I mean hell, Stephen King doesn’t have to worry about these things, either does M. Night Shyamalan or Peter Jackson (presuming none of them throw their money away as fast as they make it). But if you’re not them and you may be willing to live on beans, rice and corn to plan a fun vacation, you still better have the money tucked back to pay the rent and keep the lights on. Your work will REALLY suffer if you lose your WiFi connection. Hanging out at coffee shops just doesn’t do it for me. Reality bites.

Maybe it’s not worth it you say. Keep the nose to the grindstone seems the best path. Just keep writing, everything else will take care of itself. I’ll be able to afford a break/vacation later.

Not really. If you don’t make it happen, it won’t. It really is worth it and if you’re not a single hermit your family will tell you the same. Especially if you juggle a job and your writing as you work toward independence.

Just pull your head out of wherever and do some planning.

Peggy Bechko is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about her HERE.