Freelance writing is great. It gives you tons of freedom. You can choose the work you want to do, and turn down the assignments you just aren’t into. You get to be creative and you can work in your pajamas. What’s not to love right?
Why Does a Freelance Writer Need a Tribe?
You became a freelancer because you don’t feel you need a huge group of people around you. So why would you need a tribe?
- Accountability. Working in your pj’s is great, but you can easily fall into some nonproductive work habits when you don’t have to get up and shower. Having a tribe can keep you motivated and keep you accountable. A tribe can also mean more opportunities to find gigs you love.
- Loneliness. The loneliness factor also comes into play. Sure you might be the biggest introvert on the planet, but even you need human interaction sometimes. Everyone does. Humans are social creatures, even those of us who aren’t super social need a person around now and then.
- The creative process. Isolation does not help your creative process. Short periods might help, but long periods can leave you feeling like you have nothing left to write about. Having a tribe gives you someone to bounce ideas around with and give you advice when you feel stuck.
- They understand the problem (and can help you solve it.) If I were to walk up to my husband and ask him about a sentence structure issue I am having, at best I might get “Oh that sucks honey.” If I ask another freelancer, they are going to understand why I am fretting over sentence structure and might have some ideas to help me out.
The bottom line is people need people. You might not need people as much as some others, but human interaction is essential to the creative process.
If you are feeling lonely you are, well, not alone. Freelancers everywhere report the same isolated feeling. A few of them got together and started using coworking spaces. A coworking space is a space where many freelancers work out of the same office. There are no hours, nor time rules you need to follow, but coworking allows you to have a little human interaction when you need it.
Harvard business review even found people who work in these spaces reported being happier and more productive. Coworking spaces allow freelancers to find some like-minded people to interact with, without having a boss breathing down your neck.
Unions and Associations
This fall I was fortunate enough to attend the National Federation of Press Women’s national conference. What a blast! There was so much energy going around it was pretty amazing. There were workshops, and dinners, and amazing women who had been in the industry for years. This was my tribe!
In addition to meeting some amazing people, organizations like NFPW and the Freelancers Union offer some pretty interesting perks. The National Federation of Press Women offers business insurance at a deep discount to freelance writers and the Freelancers Union offers discounted health insurance. Both associations also offer meet-ups across the country where you can get some feedback and human interaction.
Facebook groups seem to be a hit or miss prospect for everything. Some groups are very active and helpful and some are black holes of nothingness. If you can find a good one, Facebook groups can be a great way to get a little social interaction and feedback if you get stuck on something. They can also be a good place to pick up a client or two.
Local Writing Groups
If a national groups seem a little too big for your tastes, there are tons of small writing groups in every community. Many times these groups are focused on authors, but they also welcome freelance writers. To find one you try searching Google or Facebook for writers groups in your towns.
The local library is another great place to ask about writers groups. Libraries are full of books, magazines, and other written art forms. The people who enjoy those kinds of things often congregate there.
Writers Need Other Writers
The bottom line is every kind of writer needs a supportive tribe around them. Fiction authors, poets, and even freelance writers need to find a group of people they can relate to and identify with. You will feed off of the energy, get great feedback on your writing, and you might even land an extra gig or two.