Courtney M. McSwain, Writer

Anatomy of a Freelance Writer’s Life: The Tao of Frozen Pizza

Frozen Pizza Image by Ken Hawkins, Creative Commons

Photo by Ken Hawkins, Creative Commons License

My life relies on frozen foods way more than I’d like to admit. But it seems as though my dependency has paid off, as I recently discovered an important freelance writing life lesson while cooking a frozen pizza. It occurred to me that the 12 to 14 minutes it would take for the pizza to heat afforded me time to get some cleaning done around my apartment. In this short amount of time, I managed to:

  1. Fold blankets that were on my couch. FYI, I’m a descendant of Linus (from the Peanuts comics). I’m typically wrapped up, even in the summer, while sitting on my couch reading or watching television.
  2. Put away my iron and ironing board, which I had used that morning.
  3. Move a load of clothes from the washing machine to the dryer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to re-wash clothes for failure to do this in a timely manner.
  4. Unload and re-load the dishwasher.
  5. Discard sticky notes that were littering my desk and no longer relevant.

To some, this list will seem unimpressive. The fact that I am impressed by it might indicate some domestic shortcoming on my part. Nevertheless, completing those tasks in the time it took to heat a frozen pizza was a revelation. It pointed me toward a central tenant of my freelance writing life: clean in the small windows of time.

This is a critical lesson because in the few weeks that I’ve been working on my own, I’ve realized two very important things: 1) tidiness is essential when you live and work in the same space and 2) using time wisely is everything.

Companies hire people to do things like talk to the website host, run checks to the bank or order office supplies because all of those things take time, a lot of time. It is quite possible to fill one’s day with administrative tasks rather than doing the work itself. Thus, in order to maintain enough time to actually write, it is important for me to make use of idle time (i.e. while waiting for a pizza to cook) to get cleaning and other small tasks out of the way. Further, I’ve discovered that tidiness is a virtue when working from home. Staring at clutter typically sends me into a tailspin because I get overwhelmed thinking about all of the time it will take me to de-clutter, which in turn leads to anxiety about when I’ll have the time to clean, which in turn creates a mental block that keeps me from writing.

But with frozen pizza, I am gifted 12, 14, maybe even 15 minutes of time to make my freelance writing life a little bit more peaceful. This is the Tao of Frozen Pizza. Take solace, and use it well.


  1. LOVE. I’m going to try to incorporate this into my own (non-freelance) life!

  2. LOVE. I’m going to try to incorporate this into my own (non-freelance) life!

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