Whatever anyone tells you about freelancing doesn't really encapsulate the feeling of being cut loose, set free into the abyss to choose your own destiny and figure out what you want to do with every hour, minute and second of the day.
They also don't tell you about what that freedom actually feels like. I go through phases of few projects coming up, or being blocked on multiple fronts so there's nothing I can do in a given day, and the feeling is the opposite of free: it's paralysis. Have I failed? Is having no work OK? It's hard to say.
On the quiet days, which I tried to build in as intentional, I try to still myself: not having work to do is a normal thing, from time to time. That's why there are passion projects, side-hustles and other ideas kicking around that I can noodle on, rather than simply work away on other people's things full-time.
Occasionally, the off days lead into two, three, sometimes four. It's how freelancing goes; in ebbs and flows, which we try to control but are dictated by external forces, like staffing, deadlines and company politics.
I still get paid, and I still earn enough so far, but the anxiety never disappears. What if the work goes away, I worry subconsciously. What if clients never want to pick me up again? What if I've reached the end of the line? It's a wondrous feeling, in theory, having an entire day to do what you please with it: but how to escape the thoughts that you should be productive, when you've been trained for your entire career to be busy?
It's been two years since I went into the full-time freelance dance, and I'm no closer to figuring out the answer to that question. Some days, I fantasize of logging off and just sitting in the park, aimlessly. That is my mandate as a freelancer after all: I do what I want, when I want. But, pulling yourself away, and forgetting that those are not always hours to be monetized, is difficult. It sounds dumb, but it's just how it is for me so far.
I did succeed, just once at doing this, recently, and it was delightful: I didn't log on, when a dreary Thursday morning rolled around. Instead, I got up, layered up for the weather, and went to the museum at nine in the morning. It was empty, and I wandered the halls, wondering if Picasso worried about his next paycheck, or reveled in knowing that the world was his while everyone else is at work.