One thing that's wonderful about a big life change (such as, um, getting laid off from a job you've been at for 11 years) is that everything is upended, you're vulnerable and you put yourself out there in the world in a new way. I've been seeing people I haven't seen in years, asking advice of friends and former colleagues, getting different perspectives and basically gathering lots of information as I figure out how to shape this new phase of my working life. The best advice I've received in the last two months--or, at least, the advice that has resonated with me most--tells me a lot about what I need to do over the next year or so. Instead of giving in to my tendency to panic and fill up my time, I must make space for writing--for the time it takes to formulate good ideas, to sit quietly, to put words to proverbial paper, to pitch ideas and stories. I have to turn down projects that, as one friend so wisely said tonight, don't fulfill at least two of the following three criteria: fame, fortune or fun. "By fame," she explained, "I mean writing for a venue that I'm excited to work at. Fortune is obvious. And fun is something I'm excited about."
Another friend put it this way: "I don't take on any project that doesn't meet my 80 percent rule: I have to be at least 80 percent excited about it. That seems like a reasonable bar to me. I have severance. I should use that cushion to give myself the luxury of reflecting on and choosing mindfully rather than reflexively saying yes to stuff because it will pay the bills.
I am grateful for smart women friends who speak frankly to me about life in the freelance world.