Transitioning from broke-as-a-joke gaming freelancer and stand-around-half-naked-for-rent-money promotional model to full-time West Coast Co-Editor for The Next Web has been …
… Oh man.
What’s a good word, here?
Interesting? Fun? Crazy? Overwhelming? Humbling? Gratifying? Terrifying?
All of the above, I guess.
Everything I’ve had to do so far feels so familiar to me, and yet so much more intense all at once. It’s funny — I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to begin to describe this experience so far, and I don’t even really know where to start. There’s so much to say and recount terms of how different and mentally stimulating this whole adventure has already been. I keep worrying I’ll start my story off weak and you won’t be able to accurately grasp how exciting all of this is.
Just gonna go for it.
Do I like what I’m doing?
The TL;DR version? Duh. Of course I fucking like it. I wouldn’t have applied to work for a tech media outlet if I didn’t enjoy or feel fascinated by tech and the culture or people surrounding it.
I will say, however (for those of you who want more of an explanation), that not everything I write about is something that interests me. For example, what do I care about the XBOX 360 leading sales in July? Other than being helpful conversationally, Microsoft isn’t usually a topic that interests me on a personal level.
For me, I’ve always just written about the things I’ve wanted to write about. The beauty of freelancing is that you can sort of just pick and choose your own assignments, then send them in whenever you feel like it. You’re not really on any sort of deadline, and you’re definitely not under any sort of pressure that you’ll lose out on your already awful-as-shit income. Even on my blog, I only ever talk about the things that I want to discuss with my readers. No one is ever telling me what to do or say, and even in the event that they do, I usually just tell them to fuck off.
As a full-time journalist, however, I definitely have a quota to aim for in terms of how many articles I put out a day. Some members of The Next Web team put out six to seven pieces in a single shift — what the fuck?! Fuckin’ mutants, seriously (I say this out of envy, of course).
I’m sure seasoned writers are reading this right now and laughing because it’s just so simple for them to write at superhuman speeds about whatever assignment is given to them, but for me, that part is definitely a learning experience.
Zee says that it’s an acquired skill and he has all the faith in the world I’ll be able to keep up. I agree with him, of course, because I’m fucking awesome, know I can do it, and love to write. But as I’ve said before, I have this strange tendency to doubt myself and my abilities. Which is fine, of course, because I think every writer probably gets those jitters now and then.
Luckily, I enjoy the challenge of what I do.
It feels good to have responsibilities.
I feel useful.
So again, yes. I like what I’m doing.
My daily routine is changing.
With The Next Web, I am living in constant fucking fear that Zee is going to fire me.
Don’t worry — It’s not like he’s threatening me or chewing me out every two seconds (unlike some companies I’ve had the “pleasure” to work for that seem to rely on scare tactics to “motivate” employees). It’s more because my job is awesome, pays well (I can now purchase the good toilet paper from Safeway), and is “easy” in the sense that my ability to write is never questioned. There are way too many good things going on there to keep riding this roller coaster on up, and I have experienced failure far too many times in the past to avoid feeling like something bad is eventually going to happen.
I suppose I’m a pessimist in terms of my own personal success.
Keeps me grounded, yeah?
Due to the constant pressure I put on myself to only dish out exceptional work, I find that I am spending many nights up working late and trying to become the best at what I do in the shortest amount of time. Sounds like me, right? Is it really so hard to imagine me wanting to impress my team and new circle of readers? I definitely feel like I have something to prove.
The only problem with this is, of course, that even a full-time and work-at-home writer needs to sleep every now and then. Having to be coherent by 9AM every day usually means that I should probably not be getting my sleep while drunk after 4 in the morning.
After experiencing massive headaches and scary moments where I found myself nodding off while writing, I turned to one of our more senior editors, Brad McCarty, to get a feel for why he seemed so on top of things every day.
Cheri: What do you do when you wake up? Do you have an office? Do you make coffee?
Brad: Routine: Up, take phone off airplane mode, brush teeth. Take dog outside while I start to filter through mail on phone. Grab a Coke Zero, sit down, finish out the mail that required more than a “delete”. Scan Twitter and Techmeme for what happened while I was asleep. Scan TNW to see what we covered of what happened. Open Convofy, just watch. I don’t interact before 9 usually. I just watch what’s going on to start to gear up.
Cheri: Alright. That’s good to know.
Brad: Ramp yourself into it. Don’t try to get up and hit the ground running. If you start at 9, get up at 8 and slide into things.
Following Brad’s advice, I now set my alarm for 8AM every morning, get up, take the fastest shower of my life, brush my teeth, make myself some black tea with a bit of milk and sugar, then spend some time catching up on news before finally interacting with everyone at 9AM.
Again, my routine is changing.
I am no longer sleeping in past 2PM because I’ve spent the entire night before playing games on my PS3. I now have a job with both responsibilities to my team and to myself. And while I’m sure they’d be able to survive without me (though don’t ever tell them I said that, please), I’d much rather prefer that they enjoy having me around. A big part of that means getting up and showing up every single day to prove that I’m ready to make a difference.
As for my social life, it was pretty non-existent to begin with, so I’m not too stressed about that. I’ve always been the type to enjoy my alone time, so whatever it is that I’m missing out on isn’t really bothering me all that much.
No more riding solo.
I’ve been writing for a really fucking long time. One of the huge differences between what I do now and what I did before is … Now I’m not alone.
TNW has this channel where we’re able to gab back and forth a bit and kind of “direct traffic” in terms of what we are posting and when we are publishing our stories. Everyone seems to sort of know each other and feel very comfortable chit chatting casually amongst themselves. For example, a few of the editors have given each other hilarious nicknames (of which I won’t be sharing here because I haven’t really asked anyone’s permission to do so). It all seems very stable, and I don’t want to come in and sort of disrupt the environment with my presence or anything.
I get accused way too often of being an attention whore and obviously don’t want this same mentality to permeate the relationship with my team, so me being cautious little me, I have more of a tendency to lurk rather than post (especially when it comes to big groups of people online like that). It has definitely been my experience in the past that close-knit cliques of people online are both territorial and rude as shit to newbies (even though they might claim to be or act otherwise), and they will pounce on you if given the opportunity.
Naturally, this meant that I would only chime in every now and then just to sort of be like, “Yes, yes, I’m here. I’m listening. I’m not away from my computer. Don’t fire me.”
Noticing this, Zee prompted me to be more active within the group and start participating more frequently — not just be a squeak here and there. So, team. If I seem to be taking up too much breathing room at the water cooler, blame Zee. He told me to do it.
That being said, I’m still sort of learning how I’m supposed to be interacting with my team, and I definitely don’t believe I fully understand our “office environment” yet. I feel like I’m always saying stupid things and I have definitely both facepalm’d and headdesk’d on more than one occasion. On some days, probably the only words that audibly leave my throat while working are, “WHY DID I FUCKING SAY THAT?! I’M SO STUPID!”
The perils of trying to fit in with people you respect.
My team is so good at what they do — it’s really intimidating!
I thought I was a good writer and all, but man. These guys are pros. Literally.
Fortunately, they’ve been very welcoming for the most part. Here’s to hoping I don’t fuck that up, right?
I’m learning how to stop putting so much unneeded pressure on myself.
While it’s obviously important to me that I do well, I’m also learning that in order to keep myself from going crazy, I should probably still indulge in the things that make me happy. Fortunately for me, that means playing video games (which are conveniently located about five feet away from me while I type out this blog entry), or getting dolled up and taking stupid pictures (much like the photos I’ve raped this blog entry with).
It used to be that when I was scheduled to end my shift, I would stay online anyway “just in case someone needed me”.
As it turns out, no one really needs me around that often and many of my coworkers actually have lives outside of work (Techies with lives? Go figure!). This was important to note for myself, of course, as I really do have this habit of completely throwing myself into my work without any real need or want to stop. I can’t even tell you how often my mom calls me just to make sure I’m eating and getting sunshine. Sigh. I’m fine, mom. Seriously.
Taking a tip from my team, I’m trying to stay healthy while still being on top of what I do.
I guess I’ve just been a freelancer for so long that I’ve sort of forgotten what it’s like to balance my work life with my free time. But I’m definitely getting the hang of things quickly.
At the end of the day …
I’m really happy with my work. I’m proud of what I write, I’m proud of who I work for, and I can’t help but fucking brag about it because, seriously, I’m enjoying myself and can’t help but want to share it.
It’s a different experience, yes.
But it’s definitely not a bad one.
Off to play some PS3,
XOXO Cheri XOXO