Michelle Lipton

Michelle Lipton

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The Uncertainty Principle*

October 4, 2010 ,

Two of the most challenging things about working freelance are:

  1. The uncertainty of what you’ll be working on next, when, and for how long.
  2. The uncertainty of where the the next paycheck is coming from, when, and for how much.

For the majority freelancers, these anxieties will exist their whole career. There may be occasional pockets of stability here and there – but for the most part, the decision about whether you’re being recommissioned, or the length of time it takes to negotiate a contract, is entirely in someone else’s hands.

All this not knowing bothers some people more than others.  And everyone has their own coping mechanisms for living in a permanent state of uncertainty. Personally, I have five “rules” I’ve developed for myself to keep me sane and stop me drinking too much:



*If you came here for a discussion of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, may I instead direct you to this charming big-haired scientist who will talk about quantum mechanics using the world’s fattest piece of chalk and a LASER BEAM.

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I’ve been actively contemplating trying some freelancing (it’s either that or spend another six months on the dole!), and this is some of the most solid and practical advice that I’ve read on the whole thing so far. Plenty of food for thought. Thanks for sharing!

Lee Robson

October 4, 2010

Cheers Lee! And good luck :)


October 4, 2010

Hmm, good rules! Alas, I’m so compartmentalised I find I can only usefully work on a one writing job in a single day. Different strokes and all that.

David Bishop

October 4, 2010

Thanks for the post Michelle. It is very interesting to learn other writer’s process and as David says, different strokes for diff folks.

I really admire you ability to split up the day. Personally I need to get a run up on a project and keep ploughing through until it’s hit some rough semblance of it making sense.

Brett Snelgrove

October 5, 2010

I used to concentrate on one thing each day but I find I lose focus after about four hours and my productivity just slows right down. I get loads more done this way, but it took ages to work that out. As you say, different strokes.

I’d love to be one of those people who got up at the crack of sparrows, went for an invigorating run and then knocked out thirty pages before lunch but it’s never gonna happen!


October 5, 2010

Michelle, as ever, this is brilliant. And such a relief to see that I’m not a BAD person for starting to write later in the day. I tend to start writing at about 10.30am when I’ve built up a head of steam. It’s so refreshing that you’re NOT one of those people who gets up at 6am and starts immediately. Wish I could do that but I just can’t. I’m a night owl. I do that thing of watching TV first thing in the morning too. Fab posting. Oh oh oh and the holiday is SO important. xx

Sally Abbott

October 5, 2010

Good rules. It’s the first time I’ve heard someone suggest taking a salary and I think it’s a really good idea. I think you can safely count watching TV and listening to the radio as work. Just like my three hours of reading magazines today was ‘market research’ :)


October 6, 2010

2 notes

  1. Tweets that mention The Uncertainty Principle* « Michelle Lipton -- Topsy.com reblogged this and added:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sandra Bendelow, Robert Goldsbrough. Robert Goldsbrough said: Great new blog post by @michellelipton on 'The Uncertainty Principle' – http://bit.ly/bcLOZL […]

  2. my writing habit « drettworlb reblogged this and added:

    […] someone ask me about my writing habit. In the same week I read a bog post on the subject by the talented Michelle Lipton, which sparked some interesting discussion in the […]


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