Writing is what I do. It has always been what I do. There is some kind of misconception circulating that says because I have been writing for a long time, because I have experience, because I am relatively good at what I currently do and have always done, I for whatever reason “have” to do it.
I certainly don’t. No one is making me write. It’s my choice. But not because I’m good at it; that’s only half of it. I also enjoy it. I have always had a passion for writing. But that was only the beginning. At some point, passion either gets you to where you want to be, or you have a revelation that it never will.
Writing is not usually a glamorous job. Getting a new idea, watching it come to life, filling a blank page with words that somehow emerged out of your own head – these are all wonderful things, and many of us wouldn’t be writing without these promising glimmers of worth. But a career in writing is also a lot of doing what other people tell you to do, and watching other people change your words around and force your creativity to follow a specific set of guidelines. Contrary to what many apparently believe, writing is just like any other job. Writing, as a profession, is mostly doing what you do because you are good at it.
But that does not mean you do not, cannot, enjoy writing just because someone is paying you to do it.
You cannot be good at something you do not, at least remotely, enjoy. You are not going to spend the time, the energy, the finances, to develop a skill you have no interest in developing. For the most part. I’m pretty sure all writers start out writing simply because they love to write. Becoming a writer, transitioning into a position where you get paid to create words for a living, is in my opinion, from my personal experience, one of the hardest things a writer will ever do. Because in going from writing because you are passionate about it to writing because you have to, you have to learn to love what you are good at, even when it is anything but glamorous. Even when it sometimes feels like you are always being used, and never appreciated.
Successful writers are good at what they do because they find joy in it, even when it’s hard. Even when it’s nothing like they thought it would be. Even when their hard work and dedication has gotten them to where they are, but the only questions they ever get about writing are how to find a quick and easy way to “make it.”
I’ll be completely honest with you. This journey, this balance between doing what you are passionate about and doing what you have to do, I’m still on it. All journeys like these have low points, and I’m at the lowest point I’ve ever been. That doesn’t mean I’m going to quit. That doesn’t mean I’m “settling” for work that doesn’t make me happy just because my skills are in demand. It just means, for now, there are going to be rough days. And I’m going to have to put on a smile when people ask me how I’m enjoying my career as a writer. And I’m going to have to write about things I’m not particularly interested in, and do things the way other people want them done, even if I don’t always agree.
I have yet to earn any other kind of writing life. And that’s okay. I can accept that. Nothing worth having is ever handed to you. If it were easy, I wouldn’t be so proud of all I have accomplished so far this year. I do what I do because I’ve trained, long and hard, to get here. That practice, that effort, never stops. But deep down, I love it. That passion for creating things, it never goes away. I wouldn’t put myself through this if I didn’t care enough about what I might someday be able to do with it.
When it comes to writing, passion alone isn’t enough to turn a dream into an achievable goal. But it is still necessary. Passion is where it starts. And passion is what keeps it going. Passion is what transforms “I don’t want to do this anymore” into “I’m doing what I need to do, and for now, that’s okay.”
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 for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.
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