Well, you’ve finally done it.
You got The Job. Landed The Client. Started The Project.
You’ve been waiting for this moment for what feels like forever.
But how do you know — FOR SURE — if it’s really the right thing after all?
Give it a little time. And then see if any of these things apply to you.
You wake up most mornings excited to start writing.
There are a few things I look for in a good writer. Skill obviously comes first: you have to be able to write well, quickly, effectively. But I also want to work with people who are genuinely excited to sit down and do the work. I don’t mean you have to bounce into work every day acting like the happiest person on earth. Passion makes a difference, even if it’s not the only thing that will get you to where you want to be (only hard work can do that).
Will there be days you don’t feel like it? Days you wish you could just give it all up? Of course. That’s why I said “most mornings.” There’s something wrong with you if you’ve never delayed getting out of bed because your human brain has half convinced you your best option is to stay in there.
You’re actively looking for ways to challenge yourself.
In the early stages of writing, in whatever capacity, you’re already using all your energy to figure things out. How do I write a blog? How do I make my content sharable? How do I compete with everyone else writing about the same things I’m writing about? All that fun stuff.
But you get to a certain point where you’ve all but “mastered” those more basic things. That doesn’t mean you have to, or ever will, know it all. It DOES mean that, sometimes even without realizing it, you’ll start seeking out personal/professional challenges. You go from “how do I make words” to “how do I make better words?” Your focus shifts, from the how-to-do to how-to-excel.
You can handle the stress and anxiety that comes with the territory.
I knew I needed to quit freelancing when I admitted that I couldn’t handle one more “urgent” message from a needy client. I could handle the occasional stressor — it’s part of working in the publishing world, or any job, for that matter. But I started waking every morning dreading going into the office, and that needed to stop.
There are going to be stressful things at any job or throughout any project you work on, no matter how much you love it or how close to your “dream work” it might be. But you can handle a reasonable amount of it, if you’re in the right place, doing the right thing. It becomes worth it, because you get to do what fulfills you, even though, sometimes, times get tough.
So how do you figure out where you’re supposed to be in the first place? You try a bunch of different things until you find your fit. Does that sometimes take awhile? Yep. I’ve been writing consistently for over 10 years and I’m still sometimes not sure what I’m doing. You get used to that. Sort of.
Pay attention. When you finally find your place, you’ll feel it.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.