Why Freelancing Works for My Life With Duchenne

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by Hawken Miller |

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Since my internship at The Washington Post, I’ve done freelance work at outlets ranging from The Forward, a Jewish-focused website, to Dot Esports, and of course, BioNews, the publisher of Muscular Dystrophy News. In the past year and a half, I’ve realized that working for myself can have its perks, especially when dealing with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. I can set my own schedule, pursue stories that interest me, and work at my own pace. 

Because my muscles tire out more easily, I usually need more rest and sleep than the average person. A freelance position offers the flexibility to start when I want. That doesn’t mean I sleep until 10 a.m. every day, but I can wake up in the morning without stressing about getting to work. It usually means getting in an extra hour of shut-eye, which makes a huge difference in the day.

Part of the reason I love journalism is because it satiates my curiosity. As kids, many of us incessantly asked our parents questions like “Why is the sky blue?” or “What does [insert word] mean?” For me, that childhood curiosity never went away. Thankfully, my questions now, at age 24, are a bit more mature and well-researched. 

With freelancing, I have the opportunity to pursue topics that pique my interest, such as healthcare, rare diseases, and esports and video games. Obviously, some stories are assigned, but now I have more control of where to spend my energy during the workday. 

I mentioned earlier that I feel fatigued more quickly than others. I can take a nap, if needed, to be more productive the rest of the day because I can work at my own pace. I don’t feel pressure to perform as much as I would in an office setting. I know my body the best, and I can determine when I need to take a break, and when it’s time to work. 

While working from home as a freelancer is nice, I’ve discovered some drawbacks in the last year and a half. I’m someone who does better with structure, and going into an office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. forces me to put my head down and work hard. At home, I have to make my own schedule and I’m only accountable to myself. 

COVID-19 has forced an experiment. I’ve learned the best way I work, and I’ve molded my career to fit the realities of living with Duchenne. I see how freelancing can help overcome my disability, but I’ve also seen how it can detract from my work ethic. While I haven’t decided one way or another, I’ll always know this path could benefit me.


Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.


Stuart McDonald avatar

Stuart McDonald

I am a male in my 40's with Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy. I want more stories about my type of MD.
I am trying to gather as much info as possible, maybe there is something I can do to make my life easier.


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