Freelance Writing Truths and Myths from Sex and The City
About a month ago or so, I bought Sex and the City DVD set on Amazon before—unbeknownst to me—the 20th anniversary of the iconic HBO series. I remember seeing snippets of the syndicated show on TV growing up, only select episodes with limited sex scenes, of course. Little did I know that bits and pieces of it would resemble my life now as a 20-something woman.
Of course, the show is just that—a TV show, polar opposite from anything resembling reality. But as it turns out, Sex and the City got a few things wrong and some things very right.
Freelance writers work at home and in coffee shops: True
I smirked when Carrie told Big that she writes her “cute stories” at a coffee shop and at her apartment. I can relate. Now, in the era of co-working spaces, I’d much rather have a tax write off and distraction-free environment of my apartment than pay to be around others. I’m totally comfortable with spending a lot of time alone to concentrate.
Sometimes the best story ideas come from everyday life: True
Carrie’s life as a sex columnist meant that her personal life bled into her professional life. Since I’m off the market, I hardly ever weave personal narratives into my stories—except in the case of Vogue.com and Cosmopolitan.com. However, keeping an eye out for potential story ideas has led to my neighborhood news coverage for Chicago outlets like the late DNAinfo Chicago and Curbed Chicago.
One editor’s treasure is another editor’s trash: True
Thankfully, my experience writing for Vogue.com was painless compared to Carrie’s, but we’ve all been there. The episode when Enid cut Carrie’s debut article for Vogue—which she successfully negotiated to $4.50 per word! Wild!—had an aching verisimilitude. What writer hasn’t turned something in with high hopes that their editor would love only to find out later that it had been shredded to bits. Unlike Carrie, I’ve already given up hope for turning in a first draft that my editors love.
Freelance writing affords you a really fabulous life: Umm...
And speaking of $4.50 per word, is that an elaborate rate of yesteryear? Many writers these days are lucky to get $2 per word and a placement in their favorite print magazine. So, how on earth does Carrie afford her pricey shoe collection? Well, evidence suggests that her life is unattainable. Something tells me writing one column does not support an upscale lifestyle… at least not by today’s standard. Though I can say I’m making more working for myself than I did as a staffer, so I won't call this a flat-out myth. Carrie makes attaining a fabulous lifestyle look a lot easier than it actually is. It's not until Carrie is unable to buy her apartment that she's hit with a reality check.
Freelance writing = unlimited free time
Is it me, or does Carrie seem to have a lot of time on her hands to go shopping, eating, trapeze flying… I’m sure most of her days out and about are research for her column, but it seems like a far cry from the life many freelancers live. Deadlines and edits are depicted in the show, but Carrie seems to have more time for show shopping and clubbing than most.
In celebration of Sex and the City, I'll be binge-watching the show. Though Carrie's life seems pretty fanciful, I have to admit starting a freelance business—through the good and the bad—has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. No heels required.
What parts of Sex and the City mirror your life as a freelancer? Tell me in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.