Regular readers, you’ll have noticed I’ve been quiet. I haven’t written a single word of new thinking on freelance business or design since New Zealand went into level 4 lockdown two weeks ago.
The problem: I’ve lost motivation. It just doesn’t feel important anymore. The experience I have and the messages I share are less relevant than they used to be. Businesses are in survival mode. Fewer risks are being taken. Organizations and people are desperate to stay afloat. And those aren’t topics I write much about because, to be honest, I have little experience with them.
I’m lucky. For the time being it’s business as usual for me. None of my current clients cancelled projects when the COVID-19 storm hit. I’m used to working from home — I’ve been doing it forever — so the new remote work landscape hasn’t been a challenge. If I ignore the news, my work life would give little indication that the world is in panic.
But I know most people aren't that lucky. Some have clung to their jobs with reduced hours or pay because their employers are struggling. Some have lost their jobs altogether. Freelancers have seen their work dry up too. Some people are capable of working from home but simply can’t find any work. While others would have plenty of work to do, but it can’t be done from home therefor it can’t be done at all.
Those people need to know how to keep their businesses and lives afloat. How to scrape through the tough times having sustained little enough damage that they can rebound when things get closer to normal. They need to know how to turn today’s once-in-a-lifetime challenges into opportunities.
I don’t know how to do any of those things.
I write for an audience of creative professionals who want to take their businesses from good to great. But right now, good is enough. Hell, alive is enough. Few people are worried about improvement when it’s difficult enough just to survive. So my advice feels suddenly superficial. It’s too privileged.
I could leverage my extensive work from home experience to write tips for those who are struggling to make the transition to remote work, but it feels too reactionary and exploitative.
I could help those who’ve recently jumped into freelancing for the first time — out of sheer necessity — to build their independent business the right way for sustainable success. But I don’t know that people care about long-term thinking when there’s too much uncertainty to look beyond this week.
I’ve found success and fulfilment in writing because I’ve chosen to share topics that I’m passionate about and personally experienced with, rather than those I think will be most popular. Right now I’m seeing everyone jump on the work from home tips bandwagon and it feels like there are plenty of opportunists already spewing into that void — I don’t need to be one more of those voices.
So where does that leave me? Do my voice and perspective carry any value amidst a pandemic? I’m not going to pretend to be an epidemiologist or economist, so I’ve got very little to say these days.
Maybe I’m better off spending my writing time with my family, or enjoying those precious moments of fresh air and nature we’re still allowed to indulge in. Maintaining some sanity in a household with two young boys and an exhausted wife seems to dwarf a few paltry words I could put on a page, no matter how insightful they may be.