I’ve been thinking about this for weeks. No, months. Months as I’ve been struggling to balance what my clients need, and what they want, with how much time I can actually give them. When I first started freelancing full time, I was eager, fast, and cheap. I made my clients happy with the quick feedback I could provide them. And I mean quick. Like, two weeks turnaround time for full manuscript critiques (that were really more like developmental edits, but hey!). I was booking clients left and right. I was having fun.
And then I fell.
I didn’t work during that first month that I fell. But when financial struggles hit, I booked as many clients as I could without thinking that I’d still be feeling the effects of my TBI. I didn’t even consider that the weekly migraines were from how hard I was pushing myself. I didn’t think that my inability to do school work or even put a bookshelf together was because I was using all of my mental capacity to edit. Plus, I was editing better than I ever was before. I could see more details in the manuscript, pull at plot holes, call out weak character development. Suddenly, each project I worked on wasn’t taking me the estimated 2 – 4 weeks; it was depending on how long the project was and how much work needed to be done. That’s when I changed my menu from critique services to developmental editing, because the services I was offering had changed. My edit letters grew from around two pages to four, five, or even seven pages. But I was also slowing down. Somewhere along the way, I hit a wall and I had to take a week off. And then another. Some days I could work, some days I couldn’t.
I was doing too much. I was hindering my healing.
By pushing myself as hard as I have the past seven months, I’ve actually made my recovery time longer — by a year.
I take this business seriously. Editing, for me, isn’t just something to help supplement income. It’s not a fun side job I do because I feel like I have enough experience. I’ve put time and money into my education. I’ve done my time with internships. I’ve worked for years to get where I am.
But I have to say goodbye to editing. At least for now.
The thing is, I know there are faster editors out there right now. I know that, as an editing client myself at times, how frustrating it is to wait, and wait, and wait for feedback from someone (even if you know, deep down, you don’t want them to rush through your edit that you paid good money for).
What does this mean if you’re a current client of mine? I will be finishing out our contracts, don’t worry! From here on out, I won’t be taking on any new clients.
I’m shifting my focus back to writing: essays, novels, and whatever else comes my way. Right now, I’m able to manage freelance writing a lot better than freelance editing. I can meet deadlines with articles and essays, but I can’t keep living with the disappointment that comes from not being able to meet editing deadlines I set for myself.
Who knows, maybe when I’m healed I’ll jump back into the editing game. But I need to heal in the first place — and this is the first step towards that.