I used to be afraid that the moment I started getting paid to write, I would never enjoy it again.
I was out of college for over a year before I figured out that the pressure I had always thought would come from having to write for a job was actually coming from everywhere and everything else. School, relationships, adulting. Things got in the way of writing all the time. But the moment I would sit down to write, and didn’t have anything else hanging over my head, all that stress would disappear.
Not every writer is like this. No two writers are the same. Some feel pressured to write, and that’s what keeps them writing. There’s nothing wrong with that. Some don’t feel pressured to write at all, which is ideal, except they sometimes have a hard time getting as much writing done as they’d like.
I’m somewhere in-between, I guess. I think, in some strange way, writing energizes me. Like if I could never write again, I wouldn’t be able to function. That’s kind of a scary thought.
I’ve let fear stop me from doing a lot of things throughout my life. But being afraid that adding a sense of urgency to my writing would make me hate it never felt like a justifiable fear to me. I just decided one day that I needed to give it a try before I decided I wasn’t going to like it. It took a few months to find work. Then I realized I was in love with it before I’d even started. And I’ll never go back.
I’m writing this post after spending 12 straight hours on an assignment for my graduate class. I cried a lot. I’m tired. It was really weird thinking about how I would much rather be working than doing homework. I never would have thought that in college. I won’t lie to you, once you start this whole writing for real thing, you really want to do it full-time. At least, you don’t want to do things you did when you weren’t working, like school.
I write a lot for my classes, but this class in particular has been a challenge for me. I’m not good with numbers. At all. They give me anxiety. I’m behind on my novella and April is almost over. I was planning on working on it today, and I just can’t. It’s late. I’m sorry for all the whining. I just want to write!!!! My characters are lonely!!!!!!
I feel like everything I’ve done this month has been sloppy and unhelpful and wrong. I knew this month was going to be hard and I didn’t prepare myself enough for it. Life’s pressures, all these things in and out of my control, just threw everything off balance. I’m sad.
But the pressure to write, even though I’m technically behind, it’s not there. All the other pressures are just sitting on my keyboard and preventing me from writing. Maybe that’s the problem. If all we had to do all day was write, maybe we really would. That’s why non-writers don’t understand why being a writer is so hard. Because we don’t, we can’t, just sit in a chair writing all day. We have other responsibilities. THAT’S what makes it hard.
If you want to write, if you want that to be your job and then someday maybe your career, don’t worry about the pressure. It’s not the pressure of writing you’ll have to worry about. Someday we’ll all figure out how to balance all this madness. Someday. Not today. But soon.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.