The Freelance Writer's Pre-Surgery Checklist

Today I am having surgery. It's the first surgery I've ever had, so I'm a little nervous. I'm not a real fan of doctors and I've never broken a bone or had a disease, so all of this medical poking and prodding has been new to me and has made me a bit paranoid about my own longevity. I mean, I actually believe I might just die one day--I've never believed that before.

But not only is this my first surgery ever, it's also my first uncontrollable absence from my freelance writing business. I've taken vacation days and sick days before, but I've been near the computer and conscious during them, so I didn't do any real emergency business planning for them. For this surgery, however, I have taken some steps to prepare my business for an unexpected, extended absence. So here is a copy of the checklist I am using:

1. Notify some clients.

Since I'm supposed to have outpatient surgery and be back to work in three days, I'm only notifying those clients and editors that I work with daily or who have frequent work requests. A simple email letting them know I'll be unreachable until Tuesday is all I'm sending.

2. Work ahead of time.

I'm writing this post about 5 days before it's due. I'm doing the same with many others. Unless you handle social networking for clients, there is pretty much no need to miss assignment due dates because of surgery--you can simply get them done a few weeks or days in advance. I'm making sure to get all my assignments done ahead of time so that I can take a full 5 days to recover, if need be.

3. Don't set any due dates near your supposed recovery date.

You need to focus on healing after surgery--not that article that is due 4 days after your procedure. So leave yourself a few days after you are supposed to be back at work with no due dates so you can ease yourself into it.

4. Set up your email auto response.

I usually respond to emails with lightening speed so I'm setting up my auto responder so that people know I'm not ignoring them, I'm just unavailable.

5. Create an email to be sent in the event that you are out longer than you expect.

There is a possibility that something could go wrong during your surgery or that your surgeon could find something that requires a more extensive procedure while he or she is all up in your business. If that happens, you may become an inpatient or require even more recovery time. Create some form letters to be sent to your clients in this event and ask a friend, family member or fellow freelancer to send the letters to specified clients if this occurs.  Be sure to include the clients' email addresses, names and project descriptions.

6. Change your voice mail.

Just like your email auto responder, you should change your voice mail to let callers know you'll be unavailable until a certain date.

7. If you use bidding sites, be sure to be specific in your bid about when work will be turned in.

You might bid for a job on Elance and say that you can turn it in in a week, but if they approve your bid early that means it could be due while you are in recovery. So make sure you are specific in your bids about the date that the project will be due and also clarify this in the acceptance terms.

Did I forget anything? Leave your advice below.

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Yolander Prinzel is the profit monster behind the Profitable Freelancer website. She has written for a number of publications and websites such as American Express,, Advisor Today, Money Smart Radio and the International Travel Insurance Journal (ITIJ). Her book, Specialty Ghostwriting: A New Way to Look at an Old Career, is currently available on Amazon.

10 thoughts on “The Freelance Writer's Pre-Surgery Checklist”

  1. Good luck and I hope your recovery is so fast the doctors are astonished!

    A few more tips.

    Make sure the fridge is stocked before you go. Cook ahead of time and make pre-packaged food. Or, stuff that’s easy and quick (mac and cheese boxes, sandwiches, etc).

    Get help if necessary (ask friends or family). Depending on what sort of surgery, or how quickly/slowly you recover you may not be able to do much for a while.

    Books. Lots of books.

  2. If you’re having the same surgery you mentioned before (lady parts and all that), you might be surprised how much you can get done even after surgery. You won’t be able to move around much and you might have some pain killers, but a laptop and a smartphone will let you continue with most of your business if you’re looking to stay on top of certain things. Of course, rest and relaxation is important, too.

    I just always found myself more than a bit antsy following both C-sections. I’m not used to laying around and actually recovered much faster being on the move rather than lounging about. Friends that moved slowly after surgery took longer to heal interestingly enough. I’d suggest making sure you have time to heal, but if you get antsy about work, go ahead and work when you feel like it. Just be sure you aren’t doing any hard painkillers at the time. 🙂

  3. Hope everything goes well with the surgery and the only other thing I’d recommend (although not really for part of the checklist) is to have a lot of books / magazines / CDs / MP3s handy.

    I (luckily) haven’t been out of action for any great deal of time, but I’ve had colleagues who have been and the one thing they told me that bothered them the most was the the boredom during the recovery period.

  4. A whole few days without Yo. What am I going to do? 🙁

    Feel better soon chica. But as for being nervous… bullshit. You were practically jumping for joy before. 😉

    If you need anything, just let me know!

  5. You actually do heal faster if you move around. My wife had a c-section with both our kids and she got up and moved around fairly quickly. She healed much faster for it.

    Good luck though :).

  6. Thanks everyone–and no worries on the movement for recovery. Not only have I been moving around every couple of hours or so, but I actually worked for a few hours this morning and haven’t even picked up my prescription for pain meds. I think this’ll be a quick recovery 🙂


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