A Day In The Life of a Freelance Writer & Editor

freelance writer & editor

For some freelancers, their days are organized and regimented.

Then there’s the rest of us.

People ask me all the time what it’s like to work as a freelance writer and editor. They seem to be intrigued with how I manage to make money when we are traveling. I’ll be honest – I have no idea either! Just kidding. (But kinda – it still blows my mind!)

I am a digital nomad (a creative professional who works not from an office, but the internet as she travels about). This means my daily life changes. The whole reason I chose this career was to have daily freedom and location independence. My work life changes from day to day, client to client, and definitely depending on which country we are living in.

But the bottom line is: I need money to support my adventures. So I have tried to make my work days as structured as possible. This also allows my clients to know they can depend on me.

What Do I Actually Do For Work?

Lots! Typically, I write for companies that focus on women’s interests, health/wellness, and travel, but my clients vary. Projects could include:

  • Write blog posts for companies and publications (my #1 source of income)
  • Write ‘about’ pages, sales pitches, product descriptions, social media posts etc. for various companies.
  • Write resumes/bios for professionals
  • Edit web content/ebooks
  • Keep my own blog

How Do I Choose My Days Off?

When I first started freelancing, I was still trapped by the typical two days off in a row, Saturday and Sunday. Now, I have learned to take the days off when it makes most sense. There may be a few cons to being a freelancer, so I might as well take advantage of the pros and take days when I need them!

We have been taking days off during the week in Rome to have somewhat smaller crowds. Last week I took Tuesday off to go sightseeing and Friday off to visit the Colosseum. This week we are going to Florence, so I will take those two travel days off.

marble macbook caseThis is my new marble laptop case. I adore it. It makes me want to work more. 

Do I Work At Home Or At A Coffee Shop?

98% of the time, I work at home. This is probably atypical, but I concentrate best in my own space. Once in a blue moon, I’ll get antsy and move to a coffee shop. When I was living in Costa Rica, I actually worked at a co-working space a couple times a week. I really liked that set up too.

freelance workGetting some work done at a coffee shop in Las Vegas

What Does a *Typical* Work Day Look Like?

Let me repeat: this is not a fully regimented schedule. Sometimes I deviate when things pop up. This is a go with the flow job. Still, this is a general idea of how I structure my typical work day.

9:00am – Wake Up & Read

I don’t set an alarm 99% of the time. I like waking up when my body is ready. I typically stay in bed for about an hour to check social media and read. As a bibliovore, this is my #1 time for reading. I like easing into the morning with a good book. I also strongly believe that to be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. Right now, I’m reading The Bell Jar.

10:00am: Workout/Yoga

I prefer morning workouts. While we were in Costa Rica, I would often go to a morning yoga class. In Italy, I’ve been either doing a YouTube video or using my resistance bands for about 20 minutes.

10:30am: Get Ready & Have Breakfast

I am NOT a morning shower lover. I’m at my most productive late morning/early afternoon, so I hate wasting that time blowdrying my hair. I will rinse off with a washcloth after my workout, tie up my hair, put on a bit of makeup, and call it good.

Breakfast is typically eggs with veggies or yogurt. If I have gluten-free toast, I’ll have that with peanut butter and half a banana.

cute mugMy favorite mug to work with!

11:00am: Check Emails & Pitch

As a freelancer, checking in with my clients is my #1 priority when I start my day. I see if new projects have been ordered or if changes have been made. Also, I will respond to any new clients who reached out.

Then on some mornings I will send off a pitch or two to get new work. This process varies. Sometimes I reach out to a company I believe in to talk about doing writing and editing work. Sometimes I check job boards. Sometimes I network on social media.

11:30am: Start The Project I Am Most Looking Forward To

I know they say to get the hard stuff out of the way first, but that can put me in a bad mood. It also zaps all my creative power for the things I’m excited about. I like to start with the project that excites me. Sometimes this is my own blog; sometimes it’s client work.

12:30pm: Switch To The Project I am Least Looking Forward To

Finally, it’s time to begin tackling either the hardest project or the project I am not excited about. I will work hard to finish it before lunch, so I can enjoy the second half of the day.

2:30pm: Lunch

I love lunch. If it’s a workday, I typically try to make food at home or go someplace close by. These aren’t my days for sweeping and winsome lunch dates. In Italy, we have been sautéing veggies and meat for a filling spaghetti.

Many times, Kyle and I will chat during this time. I also might take a walk or run to the grocery store for dinner items. I try to use this time to play some music on my guitar too.

3:30pm: Social Media/More Emails

I try not to waste too much time by going to my email repeatedly. I normally recheck in with my emails after lunch and then spend time on social media. Facebook typically starts out work-related and then a James Corden video will pop up on my feed, and I’m lost forever.

4:00pm: More Projects/Blogging

I try to work hard for a good chunk after lunch. While I’m working, I will listen to music. If I’m in deep thought, I normally opt for instrumental music on Spotify. If it is an easier project – like blogging for my own website – I’ll often listen to chill music. My latest fave is Foy Vance (thanks Emily at Ember Grey for the recommendation!)

I do normally get up and walk around a bit in the middle. I may see what Kyle’s painting, make a snack, go for a walk, or just sit on the couch for a bit.

freelance writer & editor

6:00pm: Finish Deadlines, Send Invoices & Check Emails For The Final Time

This is my time to tie up loose ends. I normally try to wait for all my invoices until the end of the day. Like only checking emails a couple times a day, if I kept going back and forth to my invoicing system, I’d waste minutes. As a freelancer who only gets paid for billable minutes, I don’t like to waste a single one.

7:00pm: Start The Dinner Process

I probably cook dinner 1/3 of the time. Kyle definitely cooks more than I do. We have no written rule or set days. It’s basically who gets to the kitchen first. I’m a better sous chef than I am a head chef, so I often come in and chop veggies or boil pasta for my guy. Music during dinner preparation is a must! Country is a dinner go-to for us. I heart Sam Hunt.

Side note: In Italy, we have spent a few evenings enjoying aperitivo, the evening pre-dinner cocktail at some of the bars. This means, we don’t start dinner prep until about 8pm.

8:00pm/9:00pm: Shower, Read, Play a Game, or Watch Netflix

I will often take a shower after dinner. I only wash my hair about once a week (It has saved my damaged hair! I use dry shampoo in the mornings), so it rarely takes long.

Then it’s relaxation time. Most nights I read a bit, then we end up playing a game or watching a Netflix series we are obsessed with. Normally, we get obsessed together (we just went through a Modern Family binge), but recently I’ve been watching Call The Midwife (LOVE) while Kyle watches Peaky Blinders.

This time could also be used for: seeing friends, playing music, cleaning, making phone calls (I’m the stereotypical introvert who hates talking on the phone, but I realize it’s a must when you’re living abroad), or going on an evening stroll.

12:00am/1:00am: Bedtime

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I always go through social media when I get to bed. I know, I know, I shouldn’t. But I do. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I exercise and eat well. Allow me my one vice.


You will probably notice two things:

I work only about 6 or 7  hours a day. This is for two reasons:

  1. I won’t sacrifice my life for my hustle.
  2. I find that with creative work, I hit a wall at a certain point. My brain will not write or edit one more word after about 6 hours. I won’t be productive, so I might as well do something else.

I sleep about 8 or 9 hours a night. This is for two reasons:

  1. I have a benign heart problem that causes my resting heart rate to run about 105bpm. I have learned over the years that I can either live in a state of worn out, or I can sleep a lot and have a productive day.
  2. The whole concept of denying our body rest in pursuit of the hustle is disturbing to me. My mind is my tool. If I don’t let it rest, it won’t be as brilliant as I need it to be!

That’s it, folks – a day in the life of a freelance writer and editor.

  • If you too are interested in abandoning the traditional job life in favor of the freedom to pursue an interesting life you love, email me: taylorduvall1@gmail.com … I will send you a half off code to my The Interesting Project Workbook and be available for any questions!
  • If you are looking for a writer or an editor, be sure to check out my Work With Me section!

The Interesting Project

Why I Choose Integrity Over Profit In My Business

Why I Choose Integrity Over Profit In My Business

Why i Choose Integrity Over Profit In My Business

Being a writer/editor is rewarding, enjoyable, and sometimes even glamorous (and sometimes SO NOT glamorous). That’s all you can ask for, right?  Wrong! You can also ask for money! I have said it before, I’ll say it again: the word “starving” is not required before the word “artist.” Creatives don’t need to suffer in order to produce awesome work!

But.  (There’s always a but….)

Since I don’t believe money is naturally good or bad, we need to know when money acts as a good thing and when money acts a bad thing.

In my life and particularly my creative business, money acts as a bad thing the second I choose profit over integrity. That is why I have decided that the foundation of my business is and must always be integrity. It will be the ground I walk on as I grow, expand, succeed, fail, and succeed again.

Why I Choose Integrity Over Profit In My Business
Story time:

I recently landed a job (yay!) as a social media manager and content writer for a company, working only a couple hours a week. Without sharing many details, this company sells a consumable product with an all-natural ingredient that has a long list of benefits. As a proud hippie, I’m all about all-natural health products, so I was EAGER to create their content.

I spent a couple hours talking about specifics and negotiating my prices. Then I was hired.  I love being hired as a freelancer. I become giddy. But the giddy ended quickly after I immediately did more research on this super ingredient and found it has traditionally been used as an abortifacient and can cause heavy menstrual bleeding.

Women are my audience! Women’s issues are my issues! I want women to be healthy and safe.  Thus – I can’t work for a business with a product that can terminate a woman’s pregnancy and bring other potential harm to her health.

They were going to pay me good money, and I turned it down.  Honest moment: there was a twinge of sadness that I’d be losing decent weekly income from easy work I enjoyed doing. The Boyfriend had to take me out for a drink that night. And don’t think I didn’t try to think of other possibilities like “Well I’m not technically SELLING the product…”  But no! NO!

In her book Rising Strong, Brene Brown brilliantly gives her definition of integrity:

“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”

If I had kept that job, I would have been comforted by the fun, fast weekly paycheck. I’m a freelancer – any amount of money feels like a squishy pillow to rest my crazy head.  But I can’t talk about fighting for women and then work for a company that goes against what I want to see for women  – healthy lives!

My fellow creatives and business owners and human beings:

If we get rich, but lose our integrity – what was it for?

If we choose comfort, but lose our courage – what was it for?

If we choose what is fun, fast, or easy, but lose what is right – what is it for?

If we profess values, but don’t practice them – what was it for?

Profit is great and necessary. But profit means nothing if we lose who we are.  As for me and my business, we’re gonna take the hit every time.  Anybody else in?

Here’s our manifesto:

The Integrity Over Profit Manifesto

What does integrity mean to you?  Let me know in the comments!

This Blog is My Fight Song

This Blog is My Fight Song

blog_write

Why blog?  They ask all the time.  The store clerks, blackjack dealers (Vegas girl), professors, strangers, coffee shop owners.  Why even bother writing in a flooded market?  Why waste the time?  Why not make the big bucks?

My only answer: Because I have to.  I have to write.  I have to speak.  But the artist Rachel Platten gave me better, more elegant and poetic words to describe this phenomenon through”Fight Song.”

Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion

And all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

I know I’m that small boat in a very big ocean.  I know I’m a single word, and only one match. But here’s the thing!  I’m full of those wrecking balls she sings about.  They are the words I didn’t say for too long.  I spent years of my life feeling silenced.  Literally being told to shut my mouth because God values men’s thoughts more than women’s thoughts.  And I can’t do that any longer.

So I will write.  And you may or may not read.  But I will write.  Because this is my fight song. I’m taking back my life and I’m showing it off.  I got to wake up one morning as a 22-year-old and say “I’m going to fight to make my life the best life possible.”  Two years later and I’m still doing that.  You can too. This blog stands as documentation that I have fought and will fight for a beautiful life.

What’s your fight song?

Featured Image by the lovely and talented Bethany Paige Photography