There is something magical about being able to work all day without the tediousness of having to put clothes on. You save on a lot on laundry being a freelancer, that’s for sure. Rolling out of bed, flicking the computer on, making a pot of coffee, and diving into a busy day of word ninjitsu – in your underwear no less – is both convenient and gratifying. Of course, there are plenty of other reasons why freelancing is the way to go, if you want to making a living writing about video games.
Greetings From Wherever The Hell This Is
In the U.S., most of the excitement in video game land takes place on the West Coast. That’s where a large number of the big game publishers, flashy trade conventions, and major gaming publications are based. When most people think about writing for a gaming magazine or website, they assume the only way to do so is by getting on staff. If you’re after a staff position at one of the bigger websites or print outlets, your only choice is to relocate to California and try your luck landing something solid on-site over there. Unless you live out that way already, reside within commuting distance, or are looking for a total change of pace from your current location, the idea of moving across country is both daunting and expensive. But thanks to the marvelous wizardry of modern technology, freelancers have a lot more options these days.
You can work in this industry from just about anywhere as long as you have access to a computer, gaming consoles, a phone, and a reliable high-speed internet connection. For example, at this very moment I’m typing this missive while sitting on my porch smack dab in the middle of rural Vermont. Years ago, I assumed the only way I could get a sweet gig like writing for IGN or GameSpot was by living out west. Thank the Demonic Trans-dimensional Forces of Halthor, God-Swallower of The Immortals that I was wrong.
I write myriad word configurations for most of the top game publications on a freelance basis. I do this from the relative comfort (except for the lack of GODDAMN air conditioning) of my own abode, surrounded by my loving wife and our mini-legion of adorable furry pets. With some heavy duty writing-based ass kicking, you too can catapult words into the vast nether of the internet in exchange for monetary currency from behind the ramparts of your own abode-fortress, poisonous lava-moat and all. Such is the dark and all powerful magic of the freelancer. Mwuhahahaha! *Cue ominous lightning…and snakes. Don’t forget the snakes*
All Your Egg Baskets Are Belong To Us
By its very nature, the act of freelancing is a polygamous activity – except we’re talking about magazines and websites instead of husbands and wives. Rather than being stuck writing for a single publication, freelancers get to sew their word-seed all across the land. It’s a marvelous thing. Having the freedom to write for competing publications on a piece-by-piece basis without (much) fear of getting canned for doing so is pretty cool. Beyond looking sexy on a resume, this is in-part a means of self-preservation, since steady gigs can dry up at a moments notice, and freelance budgets ebb and flow to coincide with seasonal shifts and fluctuating release schedules.
There’s a certain allure to being apart of a team that’s missing in the freelance life, but I enjoy the diversity of working with numerous outlets, writing in different styles and tones, and exploring coverage gaming coverage from each publications unique angle and focus. It also keeps repetition and boredom – two things that can set in with any job over the long haul, even a sweet one like writing about video games – to a bare minimum.
There Is No Dana, Only Zuel
As a freelancer, you are a sentence Ronin. A word samurai with no shogun. You are a master of your writing domain. While freelance writers do have to appease and answer to the many different editors they work with if they wish to stay employed, there’s generally a lot of freedom as to when, where, and how they get to go about the task of completing and turning in work. Not having a boss standing over your shoulder to micromanage your every move is quite empowering, but it also means there’s no one to crack the whip if you’re slacking off too much.
One of the best things about freelancing is the freedom to structure your day however you see fit. Routine is important, though it’s great to be able to switch gears on the fly or change things up from one day to the next. As long as you track assignments and meet deadlines, it doesn’t matter much how you go about the task of writing. This gives you more flexibility than that crazy stretchy dude from The Fantastic Four. You can chug coffee like a rabid wombat and turbo through all of your day’s work in a few hours then switch to beer and unwind for the rest of the afternoon. Every. Day. Now that’s freelancing! Woo!
Want to read more Shop Talk? Why not scope out the archive for past installments!
Dig this article? Why not BUY THE BOOK!
My new book Up Up Down Down Left WRITE – The Freelance Guide To Video Game Journalism is out NOW in print and on Kindle! The book is packed with over 256 pages of insider advice, expert insights, and pro tips to help you break into freelance game journalism, successfully pitch editors, deal with the challenges of the freelance life, and much more! Also, If you want to stay up-to-date on the latest developments, promotions, and other upcoming book releases, follow @gamejournoguide and consider signing my mailing list for important updates!
You can also follow @nmeunier on Twitter for regular blasts of freelance advice. Spread the good word via Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites below if you feel so inclined. Thanks!