Famous fictional freelancers (and what we can learn from them)

4 minutes to read

Contractors come in all shapes and sizes, across all ages and professions. Every now and again, they’re even known to cross the boundary between fact and fiction. This got us thinking about our all-time favourite fictional freelancers, and what lessons they can teach us about contracting in the real world. Here’s our top three:

3. Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

The self-professed ‘world’s only consulting detective’, Sherlock Holmes is a genius polymath, self-taught in many wildly varied disciplines, and specialises in the cases that have proven to be too baffling for the authorities. Based in London, his investigations have taken him all over the globe. He has a bit of a big head about it.

What makes him a great freelancer?

Sherlock Holmes is, quite frankly, a bit strange.

To put it another way, he has been known to – variously – starve himself for days on end, fire pistols at a target painted on his living room wall, and claim not to know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, because the information is not of any practical use to him.

All of this bizarre behaviour, however, is in service to one thing – his chosen profession. Holmes is a very specialised freelancer, but his absolute single-mindedness is as applicable to any other industry as it is to the practice of, um, ‘detective consultancy’.

The only thing Sherlock Holmes cares about is the task at hand. But much as in real life, the job description – and the skills required – evolve over time. In order to ensure that his methods and knowledge are sufficient to perform his duties, Holmes keeps abreast of every new development, in a great many varied disciplines, in his spare time.

Sound familiar?

2. Carrie Bradshaw
Carrie Bradshaw

Carrie Bradshaw is the writer of a weekly column for the fictional New York Star entitled ‘Sex and the City’, in which she talks at length about sex and shoes and the city. In the field of lifestyle journalism, she stands out as a particularly significant and influential figure, fictional or no.

What makes her a great freelancer?

On the surface, Ms Bradshaw doesn’t seem to have too many obvious similarities with the average contractor – she spends her weekday afternoons drinking Cosmopolitans and once admitted to having spent over $40,000 on shoes.

The reason Carrie made our list, though, is because she absolutely lives and breathes what she does. Her weekly column was called Sex and the City, but it might just as easily have been called Writing, Shoes, Writing, Food, Writing, Sex, Writing and the City. We imagine that was the working title.

The point being, there is not one moment in Carrie’s waking hours in which she is not thinking about, and actively engaging in, all aspects of her subject matter. It’s total immersion – for Carrie, there is no job, there is only her life. A pretty good life, admittedly, but you can’t deny her dedication.

1. Batman

Batman, The Dark Knight, The World’s Greatest Detective… that’s a lot of impressive nicknames for one man. And they’re well-deserved, since Batman (AKA Bruce Wayne, billionaire philanthropist, for anyone who doesn’t know) is internationally renowned for his track record in rooting out and defeating crime, sometimes internationally (and occasionally on a stellar plane) but mainly in his home city of Gotham. Batman might just be, on top of everything else, the world’s greatest freelancer.

What makes him a great freelancer?

The world’s greatest freelancer? Depending on your point of view, right now you’re either nodding and thinking “Yep, that’s about right,” or you’re deeply, deeply confused. Don’t worry. We’ll go through the evidence together:

1. Focus
Much like Holmes, Batman only has time for one thing – crime, and the prevention and eradication thereof. It’s a bit of a task, and as a result old Batman doesn’t have much of a social life. He doesn’t mind. He’s got far too much work to do anyway.

2. Passion
Let us be the first to say this: Batman has more in common with Carrie Bradshaw than you’d think.

In a very real way, both of these people draw no distinctions between how they live and the job they perform. They both live and breathe their own respective professions. Granted, there’s a bit of difference in the actual job specifications, but the point still stands. Batman is passionate.

3. Determination
In contracting as well as crime fighting, determination is a necessary trait to have if you want to achieve your goals. In fairness, Batman is determined to fight crime, continuously, for the rest of his life. If there was a competition for setting the most unrealistic goals possible, Batman would win every year, but it’s the intention that we find honourable.

So is there anybody we’ve missed? Be sure and let us know of anyone you feel should have made the list, and maybe we’ll do a sequel!