I regularly read the site FreelanceSwitch. Frankly, it seems a little bit more aimed at programmers and designers than us writers, but it occasionally has useful tidbits which apply to freelance writers as well. A recent post suggested 11 Ways to Banish “Lonely Freelancer” Syndrome.
This is one of those articles that could apply to writers who work from home. But, as a writer and editor, I can’t help but “see” the writing. My wife writes screenplays and has the same trouble with movies. The transition from first act to second act is like hitting a speed bump at 50 MPH for her. You can’t help but notice it, no matter how good the movie is.
What a Writer Notices
I thought I would write a quick post about the things that jumped out at me as I skimmed across the article, just so people could see what it is like to read when you are a writer.
First, the title is not 10 ways, but 11 ways. Did you notice? Did you wonder why the writer decided to abandon the standard 10 ways?
No doubt someone believes in the theory that Top 10 Lists are no longer the powerful search engine ranking strategy they once were. Or, perhaps 11 just seems more clever than 10. (I can hope that no one seriously thinks 11 is more original than 10 – Does anyone else see the editorial meeting scene in the movie 13 Going on 30 where the magazine gets scooped by the competition with an article on 11 beauty secrets when they have an article with just 10?).
I suppose, if one chooses to abandon their cynicisms, that it’s possible the writer simply had exactly 11 great ideas. Of course, any writer worth their salt can edit to be tighter if necessary, and Number 9 could be broken into three separate ones, so I’ll go with assumption that the writer purposely hit the number eleven.
But wait, there’s more, and it’s still just the title. A newly created syndrome lurks as well. “Lonely Freelancer Syndrome” will no doubt be heavily profiled in the forthcoming DSM-VI. This is a web only writing trick. Print publications generally won’t let you create your own health issues. Although, you can pump up health issues created by other people, especially if they have a PhD, or conspiracy theory to go with the new thing.
You have to hand it to the author though. An SEO flavored title that can’t help but get clicks from people whose interest is inevitably piqued by the word ‘syndrome’ is pretty crafty.
The next thing that pops out is a problem only writers have in our society today. That problem is taking language and meaning seriously and being rather exacting with both. Most people just gloss over it and move on. But for me, I can’t help but notice that although list itself provides 11 ways to not be lonely, only two of the eleven actually involve being with other people! The others could be dropped without editing into an article titled “How To Never See Another Human Being.” There is Twitter, IM, posting to forums, and Skype. Throw in ordering groceries online and you’ve got that bad Sandra Bullock movie.
Then, I can’t help but laugh out loud when a suggestion to be less lonely is to “socialize.” Sure, it’s sandwiched between two others, but there it is. Telling someone to socialize in order to be less lonely is like telling someone who is afraid of the dark to be in the light more.
Are you sure? Can someone please get me a hard source that shows it is a good idea?
Then, of course, the big smile on my face comes from good old number 11, “Interact with a pet.” Nothing like setting the hard working work at home freelancer on the path from lonely gal who misses the camaraderie of coworkers to Crazy Cat Lady as you help them banish that pesky new syndrome.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with the article per se. It’s just that as a fellow writer, I can’t help but see the little things. Now you can see them too. Muwah-ha-hah-hah-hah!