5 Tips on How to Deal with Freelancer’s Loneliness Secrets to eliminate solitude from your life

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.


5. Pets:

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.

Deniz Aker

@LinguALaTurca, English-Turkish Medical Translator, publancer, cake lover, word fetishist.



10 thoughts on “5 Tips on How to Deal with Freelancer’s Loneliness Secrets to eliminate solitude from your life

  1. Hi Deniz,
    I really like your post. As a fresh freelancer, used to working surrounded by other people, I have noticed that I work much better, and achieve more, when my family is at home. The noise and sounds are much better than an eerie silence!
    Thank you,

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    1. Hi Biljana,
      Thank you for your comment. I like that ambient noise myself. Silence gets me after a while. Being surrounded by family is great in many ways. However, if you choose to work in the same pub or cafe and go there regularly, befriending with regulars and people working there is also an added bonus for us loners. Have a great day! 🙂

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  2. Hello Deniz,
    Thank you for your very encouraging post. I do agree about pets as I have two dogs and a cat, I take the dogs out for a walk every morning to breathe and clear my brain ! I am a beginner in the translation industry but have a three decades experience in different fields. There are two tips I use to deal with loneliness : cooking even for myself but better for MOH and friends and the second is get in touch with ex working partners regularly. As far as working in a café is concerned, I know a lot of people in my home town and I would spend my time shaking hands, but I go down the town everyday to buy some bred and have a coffee at the café. I find networking a bit difficult as I don’t know the rules and habits of the industry. You are right about courses, I attended different webinars but unfortunately didn’t keep any contact with the other participants.

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    1. Hi there Jean Guy. Thank you so much for your opinions. Apparently, walking dogs is also a way to communicate with people. People would want to pet them and start a conversation with you, as my friends who have dogs say. And cooking for others sounds like a delightful way to engage yourself in an activity that contains communication with others. Thanks for the suggestion. One thing to note about networking; there are no set rules as to how you communicate with others in the industry. May I suggest you to attend international translation conferences and just say hi to people and don’t forget to exchange business cards with. Join Facebook groups for translators. Engage in conversations with members about posts on these groups. Add them as a friend. Becoming a member of a professional body is always useful too. Thanks again! 🙂

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  3. Hey there, Deniz!
    Great article for a person like me, who likes to be surrounded by people and yet lives alone. I can’t have pets where I live, so that is not a possibility.
    You can add coworking spaces to your list. In case you are not familiar with them, these spaces are places where you can sort of “rent” a desk and take your computer. You share the office with different professionals and freelancers, so you can even form a work team.
    Another way to deal with loneliness is taking advantage of being alone: you know, if you can’t beat them, join them. I like playing some music really loud and just dance, move, sing, or whatever I want to do. Nobody is watching, and it helps you get your positive energies back.
    Going out for a walk and enjoying nature is a great way to deal with lonelines. You are never alone in nature, right?
    Btw, I joined the facebook group, so as no to be alone 😉

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    1. Hi Julieta,
      Yet another great idea. To be honest with you, that came to my mind after posting the article and thank you so much noting co-working as well. It doesn’t have to be about “renting” a space though. Organising co-working days with colleagues living in or around your city is probably going to work as well. I am currently trying to organise one in my city.

      Enjoying nature has always been a great stress reliever for me as well. Walks on the beach or even a nearby park would work. Weather permitting, of course. 🙂 If you do that with friends, that’s even better.
      Thank you for your suggestions and wishing you a great week. 🙂

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  4. Hi Deniz,
    What a great post, thank you! I can totally agree with what you said, joining classes and working in cafés is a great way to not feel isolated. In fact, when I work in a café, I tend to be much more productive than when at home. However, I can’t do it every day as it does tend to become quite costly – I feel bad sitting there all afternoon only having one or two drinks…

    Anyhow, another thing I did was to arrange a coffee break with a good friend of mine over Skype. She lives in a different country and is also working for herself, so we both felt that to give our days some more structure, we could meet at a certain time for half an hour and chat with a cup of coffee in our hands. This way we have something to look forward to, can set goals as to what we want to have achieved by that time, and we see some other human soul during the work day and can bounce some ideas back and forth (or just catch up about our lives). If you don’t have time to go out and meet someone in a café, video coffee breaks are a great alternative I think! 🙂

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    1. Hi Berit,
      Thank you so much for the kind words. I knew I wasn’t the only ‘cafe-lancing’ translator in this industry. You are quite right about the costliness of it though. However, it can be done once or twice a week.

      I never thought of having skype tea or coffee breaks. Instead, I try my best to keep in touch with family and friends over the phone, parents being rather old and not savvy with gadgets and internet, hence no skype, but thank you for the suggestion. I might as well use it as my breaks. 🙂 Have an amazing day!

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  5. Hi Deniz,

    Another thing I know some people do is to hire a desk in a co-working space. I have not tried it myself, but after working in-house for a few months (I just quit because I hated it for other reasons – read: bosses and corporate bureaucracy), I realized I missed having co-workers. It can be quite costly, but I think, at least for me, that I would work more focused and productive if I did not have my living room couch just a few meters away. And some co-working spaces allow people to bring their pets, so for those of us two already have a significant furry other, that is not a problem either.

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  6. Hi Deniz,
    Great article, thanks for sharing your tips. I live in northern Norway where, in addition to the cold, we have 4 months of total darkens… so imagine, this is an extra weight on the mood.
    I find that working from cafes helps a lot, but I do agree with Berit; it can be a bit expensive to do it everyday.
    I sometimes work from the local library also, they have a very cozy sector to work with your computer and an amazing view of the city. It is nice to have a change of setting once in a while. 😉

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