November 1, 2017
It’s the day after that horrible act of terrorism in Lower Manhattan. I used to run, walk and occasionally bike that path, which was about a mile from the apartment I lived in the past five years. It hit home yesterday and today. I could have been one of those victims. I could have been a victim in the Las Vegas shootings, or in Times Square last May when a driver mowed down pedestrians. I had to let those realizations sit for a few moments yesterday. I said a few prayers for the victims and their families, checked in on my partner, and let my family and friends know I was okay.
I turned on the news to learn more details, but the businesswoman inside was reminding me that I had things to do, people to email, and calls to set up for upcoming articles.
Emailing people to set up phone interviews and follow up on outstanding issues felt wrong. Looking back to the past few months, it also felt wrong to email people pitch ideas while hurricanes were hitting our country and the Caribbean left and right since August. In between that were massive earthquakes in Mexico and wild fires in California and Oregon.
I’ve come to realize that I need to think about who I’m emailing for a source interview, pitching ideas to, or when I’m following up on projects. I made an error following up on a project with a potential client only to realize too late (smacks forehead) that they were located in Miami and their office was shut down for a few days. The editor was gracious, but obviously they had bigger things to think about than my business proposal.
Sometimes, I let these thoughts and concerns take over and use them as excuses. It felt strange to be promoting my freelance writing course to friends, associates, and former colleagues when others were shoveling buckets of water out of their homes.
But, I need to remember that if I worked for a magazine or website in-house (or anywhere else for that matter), I’d still be attending meetings, assigning stories, and conducting business as usual. Working from home as a freelancer seemed to give me more time to get sucked into the news and stories. (Also, I’m sensitive and susceptible to letting stories settle in and affect my day-to-day if I let them.) While I feel for all of those affected in these extreme circumstances, I need to create some barriers around me and not use these as distractions.
In case you feel similarly, I’ll share what works for me to help “reset.” I often feel the need to do something productive so I don’t fall behind on my professional goals when tragedies strike and it feels insensitive to send pitches, promote a service I’m selling, or contact sources. (I’m not saying it is insensitive to do these things, but when I feel uncomfortable and unsure of reaching out to others in my industry, I rely on these types tasks to pass the time.)
How do you deal when tragedies hit and you’re trying to not let them impact you and your work for too long?
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