Being a Freelancer

Life has been (voluntarily) stressful of late what with the ‘running a theatre company whilst trying to make a living with lots of freelance jobs and also trying to have a life’ sort of thing. Instead of feeling sorry for myself or repeatedly kicking myself for all the mistakes I constantly repeat, I thought I’d write (in true Joseph Mills style) 16 facts I need to come to terms with about being a freelancer:

1. I will always have a home full of clutter, from books and workshop plans to random props, balloons and bits of string.
2. I will spend 1000s of hours a year on trains.
3. I will not be paid for these hours so should spend them reading high quality fantasy.
4. I will take on too much work. ‘Well, I’m in Hammersmith til 12 so I should be able to get to Wimbledon for a workshop at 2 then back to Hampstead for a meeting at 5pm, no problem’.
5. I will underestimate the emotional impact of my work.
6. I will have a complex love-hate relationship with my smartphone. I LOVE that I can read BBC News when I’m bored, turn on spotify and search for a song on the spur of the moment in a workshop, and use google maps to find a school when I’m running late. I HATE receiving work emails on the move, rubbish battery life, and google maps’ occasional lies!
7. I will forget I have to plan each session I do/meeting I have so I have to spend aforementioned travel time planning.
8. I cannot commit to regular evening activities.
9. I will go and see lots of shows that friends/colleagues are in (sometimes for free).
10. I will sometimes remember that I AM freelance and it’s OK to take a 2hour lunch!
11. I will get invited to awesome networking events and I go as me, not representing anyone else!
12. I can have creative meetings at midnight and enjoy them (although this mostly comes with living with WBN!)
13. I will constantly forget that if I work 20 days without a break my body will rebel and make me ill.
14. I will struggle to understand the concept of ‘the weekend’ and ‘payday’.
15. At the start of each new project I will completely forget what went wrong on the last one and remain steadfastly optimistic that this new project will be THE BEST EVER!
16. Whenever I get stressed I need to remember that being a freelancer is (usually) something that makes me happy.

OK, feeling a bit better now. Onwards!

Tales From Ovid: Day Eight

Let’s get something clear: I love a deadline. I think all writers secretly love a deadline (however much we moan about them and the late nights and fifty-three cups of coffee they involve). If I don’t have a deadline (self imposed or otherwise) I tend to fall into a hole of procrastination that revolves around twitter and reading blogs and watching another episode of Project Runaway when I should be writing. Deadlines are my friend.

The entire process of staging Ovid Reworked – The Brixton Project has been probably one of the biggest DEADLINES of my life (that and the fact that it has caused me to start writing certain words and phrases – like SHUTTER and SEATING CHANGE and DEADLINE in capital letters – just to emphasise the power – and fear – they hold over me at the moment). We have pretty much turned the whole project round in 8 weeks. And when you take into account that pretty much 1 and 1/2 weeks of the 8 were taken up with Christmas/New Year the fact that this is a deadline which we have not so much strolled towards as had smack us directly in the head is probably obvious.

So what do you do when you’ve had a deadline to the forehead? Well, you inflict it on other people is what you do. Which might have not exactly been the reasoning behind Cold Writing but it probably played its part. Cold Writing in a nutshell is us putting five writers into our shop in Brixton Village, having them take part in a three hour workshop, sending them away to write a short play in 48 hours, spending a day rehearsing said plays and then performing them for the public of Brixton on Friday afternoon. And that is what I call a DEADLINE.

I have to say that the cohort of writers who took part in the workshop were brilliantly enthusiastic and up-for the process, dealing admirably with both the fact that after two hours in the shop they probably couldn’t feel their feet and the fact that I had to swoop into the workshop twenty minutes after it had started to rescue Charlie who was very ill today.

Charlie’s penchant for extreme planning proved to be for the best (winging my way through a workshop after being awake for just over an hour with no plan would have been interesting to say the least). As it was I was able to work my way through Charlie’s workshop plan (albeit taking it upon myself to Corinne-ify it in parts – ie. the bit where I took everyone off to Etta’s Kitchen to have coffee because I couldn’t feel my toes any more) and I was incredibly pleased with the variety (and indeed quality) of ideas which the workshop generated. Indeed I almost wanted to have a stab at writing an adaptation in 48 hours myself (I say almost, sleep deficit is still too prevalent to allow me anything more).

Needless to say I’m really excited about reading what the five writers come up with on Wednesday night.