Lessons Learned: Think Ahead & Accept Mistakes With Grace When Freelancing

I am currently working on a commission that is annoying me to no end.  This particular job started as a rush one (relatively speaking), and because I didn’t pre-shop the materials, I ended up under-quoting.  My profit margin plummeted.  So I began the project angry at myself.  I then tried to cut corners to save time, which ended up costing me more time in the long run.  That coupled with my son going through his 18 month sleep regression means that I’ve been getting even less sleep than usual (4-5 hours per night, although I did choose to catch up some this weekend rather than work on the commission), which means I made even MORE mistakes on the commission that I then had to do over due to sheer exhaustion.  And then I got annoyed that work on my illustrations for my poetry collection kept getting pushed back, which still pricks at me because I’ve been trying to get these done for MONTHS and things just keep blocking me.  I will finally finish the commission tonight, unless the client wants some tweaking, but as of right now, it has taken me four times as long as I thought it would, and my profit margin is half of what I thought it would be.

I have been whining and fuming this entire process, but the fuming has only caused more trouble and stress, and the whining only annoys my husband.  I SHOULD be looking at the positives: I will end up with a solid portfolio piece that will hopefully spur similar jobs, I will be able to use the framework of this commission for those future jobs thus saving me a lot of time, and I will know how to do things differently to save myself major annoyance on several of the steps.  And I learned a very important lesson on pre-shopping materials thoroughly before signing any contracts with a client.  I am human; I am allowed to make mistakes.  This is a lesson that I have yet to take to heart, but I have the feeling that I will enjoy life so much more if I can do so.

As the commission finally began to come together last night, I had one of those wonderful moments of “gee, this looks pretty great, maybe I don’t suck so bad after all”.  But if I had just been able to get out of my own way, the process itself would’ve been much more enjoyable.  Birthing a creative piece is very rarely easy and effortless.  I don’t always have the luxury to work on what I want to be working on.  So I have to take the projects as they come and enjoy each stage of creation.

Here’s hoping I can put these lessons into practice.

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