The Origin of Freelance

I love working with words. They are, after all, my main currency of exchange, 😉

One word that has always fascinated me is, “freelance.” It has a nice, “Old World” ring, doesn’t it? It conjures visions of horsemen raising their lances for a charge, sworn to no king. The term “freelance” was first coined by Sir Walter Scott in his 1819 novel Ivanhoe, describing mercenary warriors:

I offered Richard the service of my Free Lances, and he refused them — I will lead them to Hull, seize on shipping, and embark for Flanders; thanks to the bustling times, a man of action will always find employment.*

Nifty, no? Although “mercenary” is not a terribly flattering title, it’s not far from what I do now as a freelance writer. I was a sworn sword for many years, and I certainly enjoyed it, but I’ve always been a self-starter. I don’t think I ever worked less than 55 hours a week during the height of the recent boom. I’m kind of hardwired to give 100% to writing and editing projects.

So now, as a freelance writer, I can help someone populate their new website with content, research a product/service, create an SEO copywriting campaign, write and edit technical material, and so on, devoting the most optimal amount of time to each project. There’s plenty of people in the world who need dedicated freelance writers to help them create words that sizzle, inform, and inspire.

Maybe I should adapt Sir Scott’s phrase … “a freelance writer will always find employment.” 😉

*(Although the Internets are not always reliable for sources of trivia, I found attribution here, here, and, of course, here. N.B. I need to purchase a copy of Ivanhoe.)

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