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The Benefits of Building a Career

So, you want to be a freelance writer.

Something about working from home (and working with words) appeals to you.

That’s not too surprising. It appeals to an awful lot of people.

I’ve always said that freelancing provides a certain kind of freedom that every writer desperately craves. We grow up reading the work of famous novelists and daydreaming about the concept of writing one book every year (while making a fortune, of course). The reality of being a writer, as we soon realize, is nowhere near that luxurious.

We struggle to get paid a fair wage. We work our way through college just to take jobs in fields that aren’t our own. Why? Because we need to pay the bills. It’s a never-ending cycle. And, until you put a stop to it, you’ll never feel that sense of freedom.

It comes when you decide to take the leap into freelance writing. You aren’t crafting novels. You aren’t always writing fiction. But you get to do what you love.

While all of your friends are working their nine to five jobs, you get to stay home and sleep in. You get to go to bed at a reasonable hour. You get to save your gas money.

Freelancing comes with the benefits of comfortable living. You aren’t living the luxurious life of John Grisham. You don’t get the fame and the fortune of Dean Koontz.

But you get to be the envy of everyone around you.

Let me paint a picture for you.

  • You get to work from home. No more commuting, getting out of your pajamas or wearing a tie. You can wake up early, make yourself a cup of coffee, and settle into the couch for a few relaxing hours of writing. Afterward, you can put your cup in the dishwasher and pick up a good book to read. You can go visit your friends or watch a documentary. With your work done for the day, you’re free to do anything you want.
  • You get to set your own hours. Maybe you don’t want to work on Mondays or Wednesdays. Maybe you have church on Sunday and want to take the day off. That’s not a problem. You get to decide when you work and when you don’t. Stay in bed all day, if you want. You earned it.
  • If an emergency pops up, you’ll be prepared for it. You don’t have to call into work if your grandma ends up in the hospital. Just drop your things and go. Because freelance writers have such flexible schedules, re-prioritizing your work will suffice when you need to take an unexpected day off.
  • You are your own boss. If you want to drop a client, do it. I’m not saying there won’t be any consequences, but you certainly won’t have to worry about paying the rent on time. Your reliance rests solely on yourself in this business, rather than a higher-up who doesn’t know you well enough to make executive decisions that affect you.
  • You get to relax during tax season. As long as you keep track of your income and put aside 15-20% of every paycheck you receive, you won’t have to scramble for money later. Self-employment also means you’ll be able to write off any expenses that you incur for work purposes. AKA, you can take off your desktop computer, laptop, printer paper, ink cartridges, and Creative Cloud payments. Hold onto your receipts. It pays off.
  • You get to see your work published. Even though it isn’t always published under your name (when you’re getting started, anyway), you still get to see your work spread across the internet in a multitude of forums.
  • You get to experience dozens of subjects and ideas. Does somebody have a question about tomato plants? You’ll probably know the answer. Ever wondered how to make a pocket watch? You’ll probably write an article about it. You’ll know the conspiracy theories behind 9/11, the direct causes of the civil war, the inner working of a credit score, and fifty unique ways to make chocolate chip cookies. You’ll be able to immerse yourself in new and interesting things nearly every single day of your life – and you’ll get paid for it. Not many people can say that about their job.
  • You get to influence others. Even if your writing isn’t being recognized under your name, you still have the power to influence other people – sometimes on a very wide scale. There’s something to be said about having that power. And, in your free time (which you’ll have), you can work on your own writing.
  • You have the opportunity to write for a living. That’s the real benefit here. This has been your dream since elementary school. All you have to do is sit down, think lovely thoughts, and type. There’s no heavy workload involved. There’s no paperwork. You just write – and you never have to stop. Not for anything in the world.

Volunteering at Potter Park Zoo

Recently, my fiance and I were accepted into the volunteer program at Potter Park Zoo – one of our favorite places in Lansing.

We attended an orientation session and learned quite a few things about the zoo. I’d like to share some of them with you.

  • The zoo is active in three American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) programs.
  • The zoo specializes in educational programs, including the BIG Zoo Lesson that helps teach conservation and sensitivity to the natural world and the Zoo and Aquarium Science course that educates high school students about career opportunities in animal science.
  • The zoo is home to year-round animals and, thus, is open annually. In fact, the zoo is only closed a handful of days throughout the year.

Potter Park Zoo started out as a gift from James and Sarah Potter in 1915. A bear, deer, and raccoons were transferred from Moores Park in 1920.  That was the beginning.

In the 1930s, Monkey Island and the Bird House (along with a few small moats) were built. Monkey Island has since been removed. Following the Great Depression, the Feline and Primate Building was built, along with the main park pavilion.

In 2002, a new animal care facility was opened. It serves as a surgery, nursery, and recovery area. There is also a full-time vet on staff.

Today, the zoo is home to a vast number of animals, including bald eagles, otters, a tiger, several lions, a rhino, spider monkeys, kangaroos, moose, lemurs, and so many more.

In our opinion, you get all of the thrill of the Detroit Zoo with a third of the walking time and a third of the crowd. You also get far more shade and park exploration time.

Our first volunteer day involved raking and gardening. We were preparing a stage area for an upcoming event. It was fun to work amongst a rhino, a couple of meerkats, and a lion.

I think my favorite part was turning around, rake in hand, to find myself face-to-face with a peacock.

I’m afraid of peacocks.

It was a great time.

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