When you’re operating on the maker’s schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting. That’s no problem for someone on the manager’s schedule. There’s always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker’s schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it.
Graham is right on about this.
Update: Gina Trapani adds:
As a freelancer, I get lots of requests to “grab coffee” (as Graham describes) with folks who are just interested in seeing if working together is a possibility. Whenever that happens, my heart sinks. If I’m on deadline or deep in a programming project, grabbing coffee midday with someone I don’t know and might not have any good business reason to talk to changes the tenor of the entire day. When I can, I usually I turn down these types of speculative meetings because the costs are too high-but I always feel bad about it, and never know how to word my response. (Generally I say, “Sorry I’m just too busy.”)
A common misconception about freelancers is that they can do whatever they want whenever they want, but that’s not actually true if you want to get anything done. Large chunks of uninterrupted time is the only thing that works.