A couple of weeks ago, I did it. I put in my two weeks’ notice at my current full-time (non-writing) job. Starting this Thursday, I am officially transitioning into full-time freelancing!
After almost two years of part-time writing work, this step is a huge milestone for me. There is so much to unpack with my decision. Since I was a kid, I wanted writing to be my career. For most of my 31 years, I have been filling up notebooks with happy words, angry words, confusing words, rhyming words – pretty much any writing you can think of. One of my earliest memories is of my grandmother and a cabinet she kept a stack of paper in. She’d let me “write” on the paper when I visited (I was three when she died, so that tells you how early and fundamental that memory was).
Although I wanted to write for a living these past three decades, I pushed it away for years. I believed the myths about writing that are so pervasive. The ones that say:
- You can’t make a living writing
- Writers are unhappy by nature
- Writers need to have months of free time available
While I’ve been writing all along, it wasn’t until the last few years that I started changing my way of thinking about writing and jobs. Everyone’s journey is different, and my particular one took me through a rough patch a few years ago. I came out of it realizing what I was thankful for in life, what were healthy habits for me, and what I wanted to do with the remaining part of my life.
Writing was one of the things that hit all three of those points, and I dove headfirst into the writing world for the first time in my life. I learned that I’d been lacking in confidence in my writing, so I worked on addressing that issue. I discovered I was anxious about what others thought of my writing, so I stopped caring. Little by little, I was able to peel away all of the nonsense and self-doubt I’d been feeding myself (and letting others feed me), and here I am, making the big move.
You Can Make a Living Writing
“Writing isn’t going to pay the bills” is one of those myths most people have heard. The weird thing is, I know a lot of writers that do pay their bills with writing. And on time, too!
It’s amazing how once you realize something is possible, you can start to envision yourself doing it. I don’t know why art and writing are those clichéd “starving” jobs, but wherever the trope came from, it doesn’t have to be accurate. Once you find one person to pay you for some sort of writing (maybe it’s an editing job, a magazine submission, or a full writing piece), it’s like the poor-writer-curse has lost its power.
If one person is willing to pay you for your writing, surely there are many others? For me, the ticket was getting an essay accepted for a magazine and then landing my first client on Upwork.
Like Everyone, Writers are Emotional
Yes, I’ve been an unhappy person at some points in my life. I’ve also been a very happy person at many others. Just like everyone, writers go through a roller-coaster of emotions during life.
While it’s true writing carried me through the darker periods of my life, I’m fortunate that writing also happens when I’m content or, dare I say it?, outright happy. We’re fed the idea that writers have some mystical underlying layer, anguished and tortured souls, but honestly, I don’t know anyone, regardless of profession, that doesn’t have that layer to them.
Once you realize that you don’t need to wait for periods of supposed emotional turmoil to write, things get a lot easier. You can just as well write that short story while watching a rerun of Friends, and chances are, the outcome is going to actually be better since you’re not an emotional wreck while you’re writing it. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
The thought of a month in a cabin, just writing away, is a dream I’ve kept for a long time. While I still hope for opportunities to hide away from life for a while and focus on writing, the older I get, the more I realize that those chances are few and far between.
I’ve come to terms with not being able to write in an old, abandoned hotel for a winter (and really, that didn’t end well for Jack Torrance, did it?). So, for now, I have to make do with the time I have.
While, thank God, my schedule is finally changing so that I can write during the daylight hours, for the past year and a half, it’s mostly been cramming in writing before the sun comes up or late in the evening. It turns out, writers write when we can, and that’s what we’re working with.
I am excited to have more time to update my blog in the near future! I love connecting with other writers, so leave your own blog links in the comments section. Keep following Paper Crow Blog to learn more about my writing journey!