I’m an introvert. I did an online test once and it said I am 3% extroverted and 97% introverted. That seems fair. (It was this test, if you are interested.) However, I still understand the isolation that can come with working from home or alone in an office. It can sap your confidence and make it hard to maintain your motivation.
In a quest to make sure that I still had some social skills, I joined the nearest Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) local group for a lunch meeting. I came away from that lunch with the feeling that I had finally found my people. It was great to be able to speak to people with a lot of the same concerns as me, and who had been through a lot of the same experiences on the journey to becoming a fully fledged editorial professional. Not only that but they were friendly and kind and welcoming.
I had colleagues to speak to now, but that was every other month. I still spent much of my working time with a feeling of having no connection to other people in my field. The SfEP forums are great, and Twitter fills some of the social void, but it was still easy to get caught up inside my own head.
There had been a discussion at one of the local SfEP meetings about accountability groups: a group of individuals who share their goals, report back to each other and keep each other on track. That felt a bit too big for me, so instead I sought out a buddy. I knew if I told someone I was going to do something, instead of keeping it to myself, I’d be much more likely to do it. Luckily, my new buddy felt the same way.
We send an email every morning with our goals for the day and then send another email in the evening to report on what we achieved. We’ve been doing that since March. In that time I have:
- Passed the SfEP basic editorial test
- Upgraded to professional membership of the SfEP
- Become one of the coordinators for the West Surrey and North Hampshire local group
- Worked on 16 projects – 12 of those books
- Gained a new publisher client.
I wouldn’t have done all that if I didn’t have my buddy keeping me accountable, telling me I could do it (particularly in the case of the editorial test!), and sharing her knowledge. We were at the same level of training and experience when we started, and we have progressed together. We both have someone to support us and tell us when we are worrying for no reason. We both have someone we can ask questions we think might be silly. We both have someone to talk to who understands our work and our processes. We’ve become more than buddies; we are friends. Our emails are now just as much about our cats and what we are having for dinner as they are about work.
Our buddy arrangement has been one of the best decisions I have made since becoming a freelance proofreader. If you would like to give it a try, find someone and ask them. There’s a good chance they feel as isolated as you do.
(This blog post only exists because I told my buddy I would write a blog post today.)