The Shift: Issue #23

Frazzled Café: it’s ok, to not be ok; Creating community; Support for creative workers; Career development tips; #NaNoWriMo.

Feeling frazzled? I am. Here we go again with #lockdown2 which all feels a bit pointless as it’s not working. I’ve had my mother ranting down the phone this week. “You can’t stop a virus spreading! We’re just kicking the tin can down the road. They should sack the Sage lot! I’m listening to the other scientists…”
The Great Barrington Declaration is back on Google – big tech has no place censoring debate. It takes a holistic approach - we can’t focus on one virus at the expense of everything else - the economy, our mental health. Partial protection seems like the sensible option – protect the elderly and vulnerable and let the rest of us get on with it. There has to be a better way than full lockdown. We should at least have more public debate on this.
I’ve signed up to join the Frazzled Café, a charity providing a safe space to share your stories. “A place to connect with others to help us cope with the overwhelming stresses of modern life. A place where it’s ok, to not be ok,” i.e. to vent your frustrations!!!
Looking forward to the first meeting on Thursday with founder, writer and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax.
Ruby created Frazzled Café after her experiences doing book and theatre tours. She realised people have a real hunger to connect, talk, and be heard. She spoke to Elizabeth Day about mental health, mindfulness, job losses, and how community is the only way to get us through this. “It’s my anchor point at 5 pm.”
Communities are a lifeline, especially for freelancers who work alone at home so here’s a shout out to the groups keeping me sane. I’m very grateful you’re here and thank you for all you do. 🙏

1/ National Union of Journalists

The NUJ has helped me out financially during lockdown and given me legal advice on a book contract. I’m on the committee at London Freelance branch (4k members), and we have monthly meetings with inspiring speakers, affordable training and lots of debate! Good to know someone has your back and is trying to improve pay & conditions for all freelancers. See the latest campaigns, #FairDealForFreelances and calls for support for Creative Workers in the UK and EU.
The former chair and freelance photographer, Dave Rotchelle, died this week after a long illness – a big personality, always cheerful, funny and had time for people. We’ve compiled all the comments on social to pass on to his family.

2/ Society of Freelance Journalists

I spoke to John Crowley, one of the founders, this week and have joined the Slack group which is “going great guns”. SFJ is a voluntary effort and labour of love. They wanted to create a safe space for people to have a voice and a supportive community. Good piece by Laura Oliver on 5 career development tips for freelance journalists based on a thread with career coach Penelope Jones. Love the idea of doing an annual review and away day for Manual Me - more resources on her blog.
John has done a survey on whether stress is taking a toll during Covid – “more than 100 journos replied with startling frankness, offering newsrooms advice on how they must raise their game.” See his report here for Newspaper World.

3/ Hoxby

A global community of freelance experts working across marketing, creative, admin, innovation, PR and HR. I’ve been in the community for a while, applying for projects so it was lovely to have a payout this week as part of their quarterly profit share. You work with teams rather than bid for projects so it’s a slightly different business model to other freelance sites. They have an active Slack channel with tips, advice and work opportunities, and you set your own #workstyle. They believe flexible working is the future of freelancing.

4/ Twitter communities

Twitter feels a bit like a shouty pub and it’s hard to keep up with the conversation, so it’s about finding your tribe. I follow a few hashtags – #FJAssembly #copywritersunite #ProCopyChat #forgottenfreelancers #contentclubuk, and @LeapersCo. See this thread with my accountant on the merits of being a sole trader vs limited company, and the problem with agencies requiring freelancers to go limited. This has to stop! We came up with a few ideas – naming and shaming companies and creating a list of good places to find work. No story unless there’s a court case but in the meantime let’s make some positive noise…

5/ National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. A community-powered non-profit that believes in the transformational power of creativity. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days - be it a book, blogs or journalism. It starts today and you can sign up here.
Come for a coffee on 12 November and join Hannah Storm’s #flashfiction challenge.
As Ruby says, speaking from the heart creates community, and there are lots of safe spaces to do this. We tend to talk about the news, but we can watch that anytime, so save the small talk and ask someone “what’s the weather condition like in your head?”. Go below the radar.
“Talking is half the cure – a group can handle stuff, but an individual can’t.”
Vent away! We’re listening. Don’t work alone this Covinter.


Thanks for reading 🙏

👋 Hi, I'm Nicci - a journalist and writer based in East Sussex, UK. I write The Shift, a newsletter on work culture, creativity + tech trends.⚡️ If you like this and want to read more, please consider becoming a paid subscriber here. Or if you prefer, you can treat me to a coffee here. Find me online @niccitalbot.