There are many stories of writers making it big by writing when they really ought to be doing other things. Anne McCaffrey, for those SFF buffs among us, wrote her first novel in Latin class. Writing in class can get you a few sideways glances, but what about in your cubicle?
If you are considering trying to freelance from your cubicle, there are some questions you need to answer, if only to protect yourself. Leaving aside the ethics of such a situation — I don’t condone stealing time from your employer, but that’s all I plan to say on the matter — it can become a big issue down the road.
- Do you have any sort of contract giving your employer the rights to work you’ve done while clocked in?
- Can you handle an increased workload? Can you complete all of the tasks your employer expects and still fulfill your freelance contracts?
- Are you financially comfortable enough to handle losing your job over your freelance work? If your boss finds out your plan, is it likely that he or she will fire you?
I have plenty of friends who seem to have a lot of downtime at their jobs. They seem to gravitate towards the idea of freelance writing, because they feel that they can do it in their spare time. For them, it’s like a hobby that they get paid for. They don’t really think about any other factors, whether it’s the taxes they may have to pay on their added income or it’s being sure that their employers won’t be upset about their sideline.
I know I rant a bit about professionalism, but I really do think it is important to take your career as a freelance writer seriously. If you don’t see your work as a business, you have less incentive to push yourself to earn more income, build a reputation or take on new projects. If writing is just a hobby that you do when the boss isn’t looking, what reason do you have to take new opportunities? After all, you can just do it later on, whenever you want, when the boss turns around again.