Nadine von Cohen is a Sydney-based lifestyle and pop culture writer, who regularly contributes to the Fairfax Digital online sources; The Vine for the arts and entertainment industry, and Daily Life for busy Australian women. She has also read short stories at Erotic Fan Fiction events and provides freelance services as a digital communications specialist. Nadine speaks with arts interview about the hurdles of being a freelance writer and how she copes with and manages stress.

Interview by Heather Jennings

What are the stresses of being a freelance writer?

 The most stressful aspect of being a freelancer is the uncertainty of income. There are times when a lot of work will be coming in with a decent amount of money, and other times when things are slower. For this reason I rarely say “No” to work, which can cause further stress if I have several deadlines on the same day or week, but I have to make it work.

I think one of the least obvious things about being a freelancer is that the job never ends. If I’m not writing then I am pitching new stories and ideas, and trying to make new contacts to ensure there will be enough work in the future. I rarely have sick days, because if I don’t work then I don’t get paid. Being a freelancer may seem as a more relaxed way of working in that you can sit at home watching TV and get out of bed at midday. However, this is far from the case for me, but having said that I chose this path myself and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do you find that writing reduces or increases your stress levels?

Mostly, I found that my stress levels have been reduced since I’ve started writing full time. I worked in the corporate world – in advertising and marketing – for many years, and the pressure and pace were extremely stressful. So for me writing is a much calmer career, except of course, when I have multiple deadlines within a short period of time, or when I’m suffering from a writer’s block or a lack of inspiration.

What are some of your favourite procrastination methods?

Since I’ve started working from home my house has never been so clean! I have a rule about turning on the television or reading for pleasure before 6pm – so cleaning, going to the gym and online shopping are my main sources of procrastination.

What are the three things you would typically do to relax?

I wish my answers to this question were more original, but these are my top three things:

1. One of the great things about working from home is the ability to have a bath in the middle of the day. If I have anything to read for research I will often do so in the bathtub. It’s indulgent but cheaper than a massage.

2. I am also a big advocate of gentle exercise, such as yoga, pilates, or a long walk as a form of relaxation. However, if I am particularly stressed then a spin class or a run will help me unwind.

3. And the third thing is to spend some time with my nieces and my nephew. They’re all under seven years old, so it’s not exactly relaxing, but it’s hard to think about work when playing with them.

What advice do you give others when they are stressed?

I used to give too much of my energy to the “little things” and let the stress of work really get to me causing extreme anguish. But then some things happened in my life to make me realise that it’s not worth it. I want to be successful and respected for my work, and known as someone reliable and pleasant to work with, but I no longer wish to do this at the expense of my health or sanity. So my advice to people about stress is to step back and think about how important whatever they’re stressing over really is. If you’re saving lives then stress of course is a lot harder to cope with – but if not then try to keep calm and get through it all with grace.

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