My Typical (Annotated) Week Day

Okay, so I’m doing this post for two reasons: (1) because I want to keep putting content up here and driving traffic to the website—more eyes on that equals more eyes on my writing and editing work, and (2) because I want this blog to be an honest accounting of the freelance experience (warts and all) as it relates to me.

So, without further ado, I wanted to provide this look at the schedule I drew up before starting my Monday-Friday freelance routine. As with any schedule/plan of action, there’s a whole lot of good intentions meets cold harsh reality here…

Oh, and before I dive in, I should mention that I more or less employ a variation of the Pomodoro technique to my work day. 25 minutes of the assigned/selected task, 5 minutes of rest0

6 A.M. to 8 A.M.1: Morning time2/Breakfast and Coffee3/Get kids to daycare4

8:15 to 8:455: Correspondence6

8:45 to 9:45: Freelance Editing7

9:45 to 10:15: Free-time8

10:15 to 10:45: Exercise9 / 10

10:45 to 11:15: Correspondence

11:15 to 12:15: Freelance Editing

12:15 to 12:45: Lunch/Chores11

12:45 to 1:15: Writing12

1:15 to 1:45: Correspondence

1:45 to 2:45: Freelance Editing

2:45 to 3:15: Writing

3:15 to 3:45: Free-time

3:45 to 4:15: Correspondence

4:15 to 5:15: Freelance Editing

5:15 to 8:15: Pick up boys/family time/dinner/kids to bed13

8:15 to 9:15: Writing14

9:15 to 10:15: PBJ Time15

10:15 to 10:45: Read/Bedtime16

0: Usually that "rest" comes in the form of reading short stories or screenplays or something similarly s-titled. Unless, of course, it's before I'm on a writing shift. Then it's time to bullshit around on Twitter or the like.

1: This has evolved into something more like 6:10 to 8:30. And will likely change again in September when my oldest starts Pre-K.

2: What can I say? I’m a Morning Person. I don’t think I ever really got over the habit from high school and the ungodly hours they put teenagers through in that meat-grinder. I fell out of practice a bit in my college and early-mid 20’s days (Thanks, bad lifestyle decisions!). But even before I had kids who’ve never NOT seen at least the 8 AM hour, I was back in the practice of getting up early and kickstarting the day.

3: Mmm, coffee. 3 cups a day. Usually done between 10 to 11 AM. Peet’s French Roast is my poison/power potion of choice.

4: Do you wanna know what it’s like to listen to the Moana and Frozen soundtracks on repeat in 5-10 minute increments 5 days a week? Because I can definitely tell you ALL about it…

5: This "shift" really gets short shrift thanks to the increased commute time for dropping off the kids at daycare. It's now more like 8:30-8:40 to check my personal (and writing) email and my editing email. Then, it's on to the next one...

6: Correspondence = email checking (for freelance editorial work, writing/submissions updates, and personal correspondence, also includes checking Twitter and Facebook and limits checking both to this time period (definitely still working on sticking to that). Note: if Correspondence finishes early, I do try and roll into next activity (which currently tends to be Freelance Editing, but can also end up as housework).

7: Freelance Editing: My broad strokes term for any work that’s not creative writing. Editing/project management work, any other editing/writing work-for-hire. I do the editing work in hour blocks (25 minutes, 5 minutes, 25 minutes, 5 minutes)A

8: I feel like free-time doesn't really convey what I use this time for. Perhaps a better way to describe it is "media research"? I prefer to use this time to watch TV/movies, read, do online class work, etc. Okay, so, yeah mayyyybe it does kind of look just like free-time. But I think I more than make up for it with the next shift...

9: SEE?!

10: Since we live near a park and a lake (it's Minnesota after all) and because it's not yet arctic deep freeze time, I usually take my exercise in the form of a walk around the lake. This has done wonders for me physically and for my photography of birds, turtles, and other woodland critters. Once it gets colder, I've got an exercise bike waiting for me in the basement. Will have to hang a bird mobile from the ceiling though to get the same effect.

11: In the interest of wanting to use my freelance work time FOR freelance work and not as an excuse to do household chores, I decided to give chores their very own bucket (albeit one they also share with me feeding my face—which is what takes absolute precedence).

12: Given the realities of where I am with my writing and the professional goals I have for it vs. the day-to-day realities of bills and raising 2 kids and such: my current "work" week (40 hours, my fellow laborers) is currently divided into ROUGHLY 30 hours of freelance/work-for-hire editorial work, copywriting, etc. and 10 hours of writing (short stories, novellas, comics, screenplays, etc.—pretty sure I've got a audio drama podcast idea or 2 in me...). My aim is to eventually increase the amount of writing time and decrease the freelance "other" time. But until that becomes more financially feasible, this is the arrangement I'm working from...

13: I'm usually the one cooking dinner these days, and there's probably a blog post there about the advantages of taking on a hobby/task apart from editing/writing and how it's helped me as a writer and as a person. Plus, food...yum!

14: An hour (well 50 minutes) of writing at the end of the day. This is the BIG push.

15: My name is Patrick Barb. My wife's name is Jenna. PBJ...get it? Get it??? You know what, YOU'RE GROSS, okay, buddy? Annnnnyways, we usually watch TV for about an hour. We're at the point in our lives now where we average about 1 show marathoned 1 episode at a time.

16: I'll be honest, there often tends to be more sleeping than reading going on during this chunk of time. But I am trying...!

A: Often, especially when we were just getting settled into the new house and freelance work was slow to come, I would find myself using this time for unpacking the many, many boxes, doing chores, etc., etc. It's an easy trap to fall into, because it's like, "When ELSE are these things going to get done???"

What Have I Done? (Three Months into the Great Freelance Experiment)

Three months—give or take a day or two here. A quarter of a year (I think that’s right. Math’s never been my strong suit, since around the time they introduced long division in the second grade…) Regardless, it’s now been about three months since I left the security (Ah, salary! Ah, 401k! Ah, health benefits!) of a full-time job as an editor, and set off on the freelance path.

It’s a decision that was not made lightly. Believe that. I’ve been working in publishing since 2006—going from textbook to academic to trade publishing. Each step along the way, I learned a great deal and built up a network of contacts on both sides of the process (the in-house folks I worked with day-to-day and the authors, artists, scholars, experts, etc., etc. whose work I played some small part in bringing to their audiences).

That’s not even scratching the surface of having to live in New York and the Bay Area for those publishing jobs (thus necessitating holding onto said jobs and their benefits). But my thoughts on the problem with publishing jobs being largely limited to the most expensive housing markets in the US is probably best saved for another day…

Particularly with the last full-time role as editor I had, where I got to acquire and develop comics-making instructional titles and (eventually) graphic novels (both of the non-fiction and fiction varieties), I was damn proud of the work I did as an editor. I mean, I got to help bring a graphic novel history of professional wrestling to life (check out Aubrey Sitterson and Chris Moreno, et al.’s The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling to see what I’m talking about). There was plenty to feel good about, plenty to look back on and say “Hey, that’s not half bad.”

But then, when the opportunity came along—to leave California, to leave my full-time job, to move to the Twin Cities, and to take the plunge into the freelance waters—it was too damn good to pass up.

Thanks to an extremely generous and successful (and gorgeous and smart and wonderful and many, many more superlatives) partner, I’ve been afforded this chance to, well, take a chance.

And the results so far?

Well, it’s like old broken Magic 8 ball used to say, “Ask Again La[weird water bubble that disrupts the text]”

I didn’t exactly leave my full-time position burning bridges along the way. So I’ve been able to retain a select number of editorial projects (primarily graphic novels) for which I’m serving as a development editor/project manager. It’s interesting to be on the other side of things with this work. Having to be dependent on pages being delivered and similar goalposts rather than simply getting a regular paycheck every 2 weeks, certainly does change things in terms of financial planning and goal-setting. (Definitely cuts back on spontaneous purchases).

But the upside has been the ability to sample the wares (i.e. the available freelance gigs) at other publishers. Thanks to connections made at cons and festivals and through online connections, I have been able to find a small number of freelance editing/project management (and one transcribing gig) jobs with other publishers. It’s been eye-opening to see how these other publishers work.

These editing gigs—they’re kind of the meat and potatoes stuff. And, look, I like meat and potatoes. Can’t eat ‘em forever, but they fill you up, right?

But the dessert—with the cherry on the top—of this big change has been the ability to get some writing done. Right now, I’d say I’m dedicating about 10 hours a week to pursuing my own writing projects—including pitching, networking, writing, rewriting, rewriting, rewriting. And that’s during the week day hours kind of work now.

Honestly, that’s the part that’s made the biggest impact for me. I’m not squeezing in writing time when the kids go to bed (well, I mean, I AM—but I’ve scheduled for it in this particular scenario) or on the weekends. I am able to enjoy time with my family without this overwhelming cloud of “Should I be writing? Why am I not writing?” sort of guilt hanging over the proceedings. Having that balance of editorial work and writing work, of assignments and personal, has really made a huge difference.

And that’s not even getting into the fact I live near a lake now and can just pop out in the middle of the day to walk around and see ducks and robins and cranes and this one big ol’ turtle one time on my walks around it.

So that’s the view from 3 months in, folks. What do I want next?

More editing/project management gigs would be great. If you know of any publishers or individual creators/creative teams looking for help in that department (particularly for comics/graphic novels or illustrated/giftbook projects), please don’t hesitate to send them my way. I’ve got an updated resume and everything.

Writing work would be even better. Comics, prose, whatever. I’ve got a lot of short fiction pieces out on submission, along with some comic pitches. I don’t know what others can do to help with those outside of clapping their hands and believing in fairies and hoping my writing’s at least as good as I think it is. But I’m also available for work-for-hire and writing assignments, so again…if you know someone AND you like what you’ve read of my work (some of which is available on this site or can be read via links from this site), then don’t hesitate to share. (But if you don’t like my work, SHHHHHHHH.)

I want to continue to grow and to sustain. To build on what I’ve already done and forge new paths ahead.

I also want to blog more. So hopefully the ones coming after this monster will be a tad more breezy and manageable.

Until next time…