The Born Freelancer Looks Back Over 4 Years – Part 2

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer shares personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? Your input is welcome in the comments.



Having had some time off to pause and reflect, today I would like to conclude my look back on columns I have written as “The Born Freelancer”.

Here, listed in no particular order, are some additional thoughts on topics I have written about in the last four years. (Part One, which ran in July, is here).

Overcoming inertia

Nothing strikes fear in the mind of a freelancer like the possibility of confronting writer’s block. I’ve written about it here.

I’ve also written about the power of creating lists in helping freelancers organize and effectively take control of their own tendencies towards inertia.

I’ve read many interesting articles on this subject since then. All have had invaluable advice to share.

But when I feel my own willpower lacking (fairly frequently these days!) I find myself grateful to fall back on lists and routines that I would normally hate and shun in my personal life. Professionally, they remain the scaffolding around which my professional day revolves.

Another “trick” to overcoming professional inertia that I have written about is going offline. I would perhaps liken constantly being online and keeping busy for its own sake to working out at the gym too often. Your muscles eventually get numb with the constant exercise. So what do you do? You rest. You take a break. You stop doing the thing that has fatigued you the most.

So it has been most rewarding to read in a growing number of reports lately that there is a growing cultural shift against constant and continuous busyness.

This doesn’t mean a shift towards laziness or any lack of productivity.

It means a recognition that it is not healthy for us to be so busy, so engaged, so plugged in all the time.

And unhealthy means unproductive, ultimately.

Unplugging means recharging, refreshing and revitalizing.

I felt I was being courageous positing unplugging for just a couple of weeks a year. What I’m reading now is that two weeks annually is a ridiculously low number of days during which to unplug in order to achieve overall maximum health (and ultimately maximum productivity for us freelancers).

Max Ferguson

Back in 2012 I wrote about the passing of Canadian radio and television icon Max Ferguson. Many of you may not have been familiar with his work on the CBC as he had retired from active service with the Mother Corp many years earlier. But Ferguson was one of the first true radio stars on CBC in the 1950s through 1990s. He will long be fondly remembered by those of us who care about the cultural history of this country for both his pioneering role in promoting “world music” in Canada and for his satirical work as the unofficial conscience of Canada. (A title he would have no doubt rejected as too pompous and self-aggrandizing). His trailblazing satirical work on air would lead directly or indirectly to a fine tradition of such Canadian satirical reviews as Air Farce, Rick Mercer, The Irrelevant Show, This Is That, etc.

What has somewhat disappointed me since his passing is that no one clear successor to his role as the maverick lone voice of dissent on the CBC Radio airwaves has emerged. Perhaps there never will be one again. We live in such a corporate age. Most nationally broadcast CBC Radio shows seem to be over-managed and under-staffed by anyone capable of expressing rational dissent in a humorous and intelligent way. Pity. Perhaps they are all too fearful for their own job security today.

Something Max Ferguson never was in his day.

And so for that, and for all the other reasons noted in my original post, he remains a freelancing hero for many of us.

Death of CBC radio drama

I’m not here to bash CBC Radio. So don’t get me wrong. In fact I love CBC Radio! But I guess when you love and have listened as long as I have to it (and participated in its programming on and off for several decades as a freelancer) you care enough to hurt when it does things (or has things done to it) that clearly impact negatively upon its programming and ultimate legacy.

It was the result of our current federal government’s draconian cutbacks to the CBC that resulted in the death of all CBC Radio drama programming in 2012. I wrote about it here and here.

Despite the end of its drama programming, CBC Radio (of course) continued to produce fine shows and the sun came up the next day.

But for those of us who dearly love this country and the unique abilities of CBC Radio to express its vast diversities and unforgettable stories, the loss of radio drama marked a turning point. Under this current federal government there has been a continuing lack of respect for our own cultural heritage. Clearly (IMHO) this government has a long standing commitment to destroy the CBC or else render it into a ghost of its former self.

I still miss CBC Radio drama. I listen to those shows I have stored on tape offline as well as continue to explore the vastness of the internet for those I can find there.

When I listen to them I am reminded of the greatness of the radio drama medium as well as its profound role in shaping and exploring the cultural legacy of this country.

When I listen to them I am reminded of the passion and dedication and skill of its Canadian practitioners as well as the devotion of and enjoyment received by its loyal listeners.

When I listen to them I am also reminded of who is responsible for CBC Radio drama’s demise.

Rebirth of audio drama

In 2013 I wrote about the exciting “Project X” team in a column about the possibilities of the rebirth of radio drama in Canada post-CBC Radio.

I still believe it will be we freelancers who will take control of the means of its production and – using the internet or community access radio stations across the country –  return radio drama (or rather, audio drama) to the attention of at least a small portion of the general population.

The stumbling block remains financing.

I am not aware of any group currently engaged in this work which is actually making a living at it or even breaking even. (If you are out there, please let us know!)

I wrote that crowdfunding might be the answer. This has yet to be proven/unproved as a viable option.

Meanwhile, let this be another shout out to all of you who have known and loved Canadian radio drama. Now is the time to take it over! Now is the time to return to the “theatre of the mind” and address contemporary issues relevant to modern Canadian audiences.

I, for one, will be listening for you. I might even join you, if you’ll have me.


I recently wrote about the realities of attempting to achieve perfection.

Rereading it today I was reminded of the sheer delight of having a brand new perfect idea with which to play.

I used to think ideas were 100% internally generated but later I began to suspect they are free floating all around us like easily broken, invisible soap bubbles. The working freelancer has finely tuned their mind to receive such information from the universe in a form that makes sense to him or her. It is then up to our abilities and experiences to shape these mere wisps of ideas into fully functioning projects that can withstand the rigours and hardships of life in this cold, cruel world.

But ah, those initial moments of receiving a new idea from the universe and having it pure and perfect in your mind, a million possibilities awaiting your decision to begin! What could be finer, creatively-speaking? For me it’s still one of the most wonderful aspects of being a working freelancer. We get to play with brand new perfect ideas every day.

Posted on September 10, 2015 at 9:00 am by editor · · Tagged with: , , ,

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