Fighting freelancing woes with BreathingRoom

Ask Sweta Mantrii what has been the biggest challenge of being a freelancer and prompt comes the response, “I was a work-from-home freelance writer for about four years. There would be days when I just wouldn’t be able to get through a working day. There’d be some distraction at home or I’d be so relaxed working from the comfort of my room that I would doze off even without realising.” Sweta goes on to say that having meetings would become an issue. When the meetings wouldn’t happen at the client’s office, she would meet them at a coffee shop, where the loud music and chaos would be a hindrance.  

An MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Sweta worked in the PR industry for a year before becoming a full-time freelance writer. A random blog post during her MBA led her to the realisation that she had the knack of telling stories differently. So, after an extremely short stint in the PR industry, Sweta took to writing to tell stories. “In 2011, my doctor had advised me to undergo physiotherapy thrice a week. I was on a break for about six months. I couldn’t take up a full-time job at that point in time, so I started writing for a couple of local newspapers,” she reminisces. Sweta has ‘spina bifida’ and walks with the support of crutches. Although there’s no cure for her condition, physiotherapy helps muscle strengthening and build stamina, so that she can walk long distances, if need be.

Sweta has been working out of a shared workspace in Pune for about two years now and availed of BreathingRoom’s services when she needed a breath of fresh air.

Sometimes, a change of environment is all that a writer needs to churn out some fresh content. I have worked out of two BreathingRooms so far, and the experience has been fabulous. I not only use BreathingRooms when I need a change of space but also for some of the client meetings. Sometimes when clients don’t want to come to my side of the town, I book a BreathingRoom at a midpoint, which works as a win-win for both of us. I wish we had something like this in Pune when I had just started out!

From writing features for newspapers to writing content for websites and blogs to writing voiceover scripts for documentaries and subtitles for movies, Sweta’s journey as a writer has been quite fulfilling. But there’s more to her than being a writer. Sweta studied at a residential campus, so the university provided her with an electronic wheelchair so that she didn’t have to cover long distances by foot. That’s when she realised the restrictions that came with using a wheelchair.

I’ve always had an active social life. I would be slow at climbing steps, but it was manageable. However, when I started using a wheelchair, that’s when the issue of having an inaccessible infrastructure hit me hard. After I left college, I got back to manoeuvring the way I used to, but my realisation about inaccessible infrastructure did not leave me!

Soon after her post-graduation, Sweta started working towards reducing barriers – both, physical and social, that stop the differently abled from coming into the mainstream. She is a part of an initiative called Give Some Space that works towards creating a space for the differently abled in the society, by facilitating a Barrier Free Infrastructure (Environment). She has also been raising awareness about the cause through numerous independent initiatives. She directed a movie called ‘Disability – A State of Mind’ that highlighted the plight of the differently abled in the country. Her latest endeavour was a Stand-Up Comedy Act, which was a satirical take on people’s perception of disability.

“While booking a space with BreathingRoom, I was specific about the kind of space that I wanted, because of my disability. I’m happy that the team recommended and guided me to a BreathingRoom that was easy to access. I look forward to collaborating with BreathingRoom sometime in the near future, to make most if not all of their BreathingRooms in Pune accessible,” asserts Sweta, who believes in beating the worst by the best.

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