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Occupational Hazards In Freelance Writing
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Writing seems like a safe enough job, although for those who have worked in highly technical fields you know that’s not always the case. Some technical writers actually carry liability insurance in case an error in the documentation results in some kind of problem that involves property damage or personal injury.

Writing work like web content and copywriting, however, are safe enough generally speaking. There are, however, certain elements of writing on a freelance basis that either constitute health problems, or are conditions of the freelance writing life that can lead to health issues.

Fortunately, you can take actions to reduce or eliminate the effects of these occupational hazards. The first step is to ensure that you have an awareness at least of the most common such hazards in writing on a freelance basis.

The first hazard of living a freelance, or telecommute life, involves the freelancer developing a sense of isolation. This is technically not a health problem, but it can lead to health-related problems so becoming aware of this issue has importance. This situation is not limited to writers who work on a freelance basis. Others who work in a home office setting such at editors and transcribers may also experience a sense of isolation. On the other hand, virtual assistants and telecommute customer service representatives who interact, even by telephone, with customers may not experience ea sense of isolation or may experience it to a reduced degree.

Fortunately, there are some steps the freelance writer can take to ward off the sense of isolation. Another thing to note about this element of the freelance writing life is that some writers experience during the course of switching from an on-site job into freelancing (or back into freelancing after a contract job on-site.) The circumstances in which individual writers freelance can impact the likelihood of this effect on the writer, as well. A writer with a busy family environment may not feel this effect as much as a writer who remains at home alone all day.

Some steps you can take to help reduce or avoid developing a strong sense of isolation include things like mixing up the way you structure your work efforts. Some writers have used techniques such as doing some of their writing work at the local library or at someplace with wifi connections and laptop ports such as Starbucks.

Another action you can take involves blending a different kind of work that takes you out of the house a part of your day or work week. Some writers work a part-time job blended in with freelance clients. Another valuable technique, especially for the transition situation between an on-site job and working solely or primarily at home is to consider blending other freelancing with more outside contact involved: things along the lines of mystery shopping, retail merchandising, or tutoring students. A well established writer may also have opportunities to take on speaking engagements or do brief instructional programs at a local high school, adult retirement community, or community college.

Another tactic to alleviate the sense of isolation freelance writers may develop from working in a home office involves seeking out contact with other professionals. Even involving yourself in an online writer’s forum, or forum in the niche you write about (or both) can help you feel more connected with other professionals with shared interests. Of course, you can also get valuable information from these sources as well.

Your community also almost certainly offers opportunities for in-person networking events, also. These can serve as a valuable source of project leads, but also can help the writer develop a sense of connection to the outside world.

The reason recognizing that a sense of isolation constitutes an occupational hazard for freelance writers involves that, if intense enough, this circumstance can lead to actual health problems. Freelance writers seem prone to a sense of depression, for example, and this can sometimes develop directly from a sense of isolation.

Although isolation doesn’t necessarily lead directly to certain additional health problems, there are other occupational hazards related to depression and to working in a home-based office that freelance writers may also encounter. These include two separate but related conditions known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Light Deficiency Syndrome (LDS). These particularly affect freelance writers (and others of similar lifestyle) during autumn, winter, and into early spring in climates with shortened daylight hours during those seasons, cold temperatures, and winter storm conditions. SAD is a more pervasive condition that LDS, and can involve additional symptoms than just a sense of depression. SAD may also arise from causes in addition to lowered daylight conditions, such as cold temperatures and air pressure related to storm systems: although the medical profession does not fully understand these conditions at this time even though medical practitioners recognize that they exist.

For LDS, your can reduce the effects by providing to have as much natural or near-natural light for you home office as possible. Also, avoiding fluorescent and even halogen lights in your task lighting can help. Incandescent lights in a full spectrum form provide the best task lighting. Sylvania and GE each make a full spectrum incandescent light bulb.

Another related condition of this type involves Vitamin D deficiency, which has reached epic proportions nationwide. If you can get about ten minutes of sun daily, this can reduce the deficiency, however, for this issue you actually may need to consult a physician and make a determination on an appropriate Vitamin D supplement to combat the condition.

Another occupational hazard involves eye strain. Many of the same lighting techniques that reduce the effects of SAD and LDS can also help alleviate eyestrain. As can regular breaks away from the computer and doing some of the reading in printed form rather than on-screen.

Finally, there are the skeleton-muscular occupational hazards of a freelance writing lifestyle. While certainly not limited to freelancing as a professional lifestyle, freelance writers may experience a range of discomforts, ranging up to injury needing surgery, that fall into a broad category known as Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI). Most people think of carpal tunnel syndrome as the hazard in this regard. However, this is actually a range of potential injuries ranging from bursitis or tendonitis in either or both shoulders to something similar to tennis elbow to serious back strain.

A freelancer who works on fast turnaround projects may develop any or all of these difficulties: or may aggravate such injuries developed on prior work assignments.

The actions to take to alleviate this set of occupational hazards involve actions ranging from avoiding super-high production rates except when a deadline really demands it, using an ergonomic chair if possible, and taking regular breaks. You can also find products such as wrist supports that have the intent to RSI-related problems. However, many RSI sufferers have found these commercial products less than effective.


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