Greater than 4 minutes, my friend!
Being a freelance translator, or being a freelancer in any field for that matter, is a lonely business. I don’t need to tell you that. At times, it may hit you hard that you work at home, in front of your laptop, in the confines of your study room, bedroom or living room. If you live alone like me and are -devoid of a significant other, then it may get even worse and you find yourself listening to music or keeping the TV on while working just so that you have some sort of ambient noise other than the clicking sound of your keyboard or the echoing thoughts in your head. If all these describe you, then I might have a few solutions for you.
This post will not make you a better translator, get you more clients, or give you tips as to how to market your translation business. Instead, I will share with you the secrets of dealing with the loneliness that comes with working from home. For most of your friends, the idea of working in your pyjamas is amazing. You don’t have to be that 9-to-5 slave in a narrow cubicle. However, people may be blinded by the so-called advantages of what we do, there is the solitude we have to deal with. Here are a few tips as to how you overcome being stuck at home with work.
1.Pub-lancing, or café-lancing:
Assuming you have a laptop or an ultrabook that is portable enough to let you work without having to stay at home, I say, use that feature. Be portable yourself. One thing I find helpful is being amongst other people, be it people you know or complete strangers. Social isolation will do nothing but make you feel lonelier. An article published by Times on 26 March 2013 sums up the danger of being stuck at home. “The research, which was led by Andrew Steptoe, a professor of epidemiology and public health at University College London, followed 6,500 British people over 52 from 2004 until 2012. The most socially isolated in this group were 26% more likely to die during the study period than those with the most active social lives…” You may not be over 52, but still. For instance, I work in pubs, not behind the bar but on one of the tables, sipping my coffee or beer and utilising their free Wi-Fi. In a sense, I am a publancer. Recently, I set up a Facebook group called Pub-lancing Translators to see how many is out there that like their beer and work at the same time. I am sure I am not the only one that does this. Enjoying your chai latte while dealing with that dreadful text in a lovely café would work too. So, get your cue from scientists and get out!
2. Language or CPD courses:
Flower arrangement courses or cooking classes even! I think you may have a couple of hours a week to spare for such courses. They are pretty good at expanding your knowledge on certain subjects. Not only that, they provide you with the possibility to expand your social circle as well. Making friends through attending an evening class is another way to feel less lonely. Some of those people you met might make great companions and even teach you a thing or two about life. You never know. If you have just started taking, say, language courses as your chosen CPD activity, you can add another working language to your CV and earn more two years from now. Yet another advantage.
3. Networking events with colleagues:
I am not going to argue the plus side of attending conferences or seminars for translators. If you are wise enough to keep your antennae on to learn more from other experienced freelancers in our business, you already know by now how important it is to share a few days with other ‘like-minded’ translators in a city you haven’t been before. Professionally, such events are amazing. However, they do something else that is good for you: that is, pushing you to communicate with others. Some of those people you exchanged business cards with may become a friend in the future. You will want to meet them for non-business purposes after that seminar. Social gatherings with colleagues are great at shaking off that solitude. That has been the case for me. Depending on your budget and availability of your calendar, book your next trip to that international conference. You’ll love every minute of it.
4. Hosting a party at home:
No, you don’t need a party planner or posh wine and cheese, or to cook 5 course meals for a pax of 14. How about organising a film & pizza night? If you have social skills enough to provide you with non-freelancing friends, and you like their company, all you have to do is pick up the phone and invite your friends or family over. Order your favourite Italian and voila. You are in the company of other human beings. A few glasses of port might be a nice addition as well.
I am a member of quite a few translators’ groups on Facebook. The amount of photos of translators’ CAT tools (pun oh-so-intended!) I have seen so far should tell you something about us. A cat, or a dog, or even a pet turtle gives you the responsibility to take care of something other than yourself and that text before your eyes that needs translating. They are great in giving you back the love you give them and make you giggle as you watch them trying to catch their own tail! I had budgerigars for a while that watched me work on my shoulders and chirping into my ears. I am still toying with the idea of getting a couple. Adopt a furry friend. They are fun to be with.
Human beings are inherently social. Don’t be stuck at home but push yourself to interact with others. I was going to include dating in the list if you are single or sharing a nice evening out with your significant other, or even a gym membership but they are a given already for most people. I am interested in knowing how you deal with loneliness. Please share your recipe in comments.
@LinguALaTurca, English-Turkish Medical Translator, publancer, cake lover, word fetishist.