Writing has been a safe space for Rachel since she was 9 years old, but she only recently turned it into her profession. Whilst she was the first of her family and friends to take the bold step into freelancing, she loves the newfound freedom she has over her time and the merge of her work/home-life routines.
Hi Rachel! Where in the world are you based?
Currently, I live in Lagos, Nigeria. I was born and raised in Kano ― also in Nigeria ― where I spent a significant number of years.
How long have you been a writer and what drew you to this profession?
I started writing when I was 9 years old. I was a timid child so writing was a safe space for me to express myself without restraint. Writing was and is still my safe space. I remember writing a play in my notebook using characters I created based on some of my classmates and teachers. It was an interesting one, such that, when it was discovered, my notebook was passed from person to person and I never got it back. For my English language exams, where it was optional, I always preferred essay or fiction writing to letter writing. Much later, I discovered I had a love for writing short poems too.
I only started writing as a profession a year ago. I finally told myself I was ready to take up writing as more than something I did for passion.
What's the best part about being a freelance writer?
I can work anywhere and anytime. It is great that I can be pigging out and still getting work done. I love the fact that it gives me time for whatever else I want to do. I feel more in control of my time.
Working a 9-5 job in a city like Lagos can be very stressful. The roads are always so busy and the heavy traffic makes getting to work an arduous task. That and the pressure at work were a terrible combo which I struggled with for a while. Almost all my friends thought I was crazy when I quit my day job and at one point, I thought I was crazy too but I stuck to it.
Even though switching from a 9-5 job to freelancing was a big decision for me, I haven’t regretted it so far.
"Almost all my friends thought I was crazy when I quit my day job and at one point, I thought I was crazy too but I stuck to it."
What does your average week look like?
I’m a real homebody these days. My average week is spent mostly in front of my screen, writing or studying. When I have a full week with a lot of work, I create a schedule that I try to adhere to strictly. When all the work is done for the day, I cook a meal, scroll through Netflix, go shopping, read a book or take a nap. I'm a part-time commercial model as well but I haven't accepted any new gigs since the lockdown because I want as little contact as possible with other people for now.
What brings you the greatest satisfaction in your work?
Learning. There's always something new out there. Something I didn't know before like a new word or a new fact or an event in history. I find it fascinating. The intrigue drives me to want to learn even more. It is satisfying but it also creates a new hunger for more. An endless cycle really.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
Most of my life, at the moment, is tied to my work so I guess there isn't much to balance. I mean, with the current situation, I am still a little paranoid about leaving my house. On a normal day though, I do find time to take walks, go to the beach, hang out with friends, attend a few concerts or events and my work doesn’t come in the way of any of that. For now, I just try to ensure I keep in touch with my family and close friends via video calls and instant messaging as regularly as possible.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
"Even if you don't know what you're doing, keep at it. The worst that can happen is failure. If you already know the worst, you're half prepared"
This little piece of advice has made me a lot more adventurous. It made me feel like I could do almost anything if I tried and I need not be afraid to fail.