When you start out as a writer, you quickly realize you’re responsible for a lot more than just writing.
You also have to market your own stuff. And before that, you have to take/find your own pictures. Add your own metadata to things. Make your blog look nice. Try to understand SEO even though only God knows how Reader X found your old posts from 2015.
You not only learn to do it all … you kind of learn to LOVE doing it all.
I mean, most of the time.
Which is why climbing up the mostly unpredictable ladder that is Writing For A Living can catch you off guard. It did for me. I sprinted into my first staff writing job ready to be the woman of many talents I’d trained to be, only to have everything but my writing responsibilities handed off to … OTHER PEOPLE.
YOU MEAN … somebody else does all my pictures for me? And I don’t have to come up with my own Yoast keywords? And … I don’t have to completely fail at proofreading my own words??
I should be excited, right?
Because … MY LIFE FEELS EMPTY.
OK, so maybe all the rest of you absolutely hate doing All The Things. You can’t wait until you don’t have to do all the tedious extra stuff. Or you did a public happy dance when you no longer had to.
Change is good. But it also takes a lot of getting used to.
All of a sudden, you realize you not only don’t have to do all those things anymore … but you sort of can’t. Because those things become other people’s jobs, things they’re paid to do. And instead of getting to do All The Things, you become just “a writer.”
Yeah. That thing you always dreamed of being, except only having one job feels wrong somehow.
It’s more than giving up full control over everything you produce. It’s agreeing to collaborate when, maybe, part of you liked that writing was a responsibility you didn’t have to share with anyone else.
It’s trusting other people to take what you’ve created and add their respective elements to make it ever so slightly better.
It’s realizing that you now have the luxury of focusing only on writing, and don’t have to worry about a lot of everything else that goes into publishing something, even though you kind of liked having a bunch of small tasks to keep you occupied.
Now you have to re-learn how to structure your entire writing workflow. Redefine how much time you can, and should, spend on the actual writing portion of your workday. Re-assess whether or not you’re OK with giving up the full control you once had over everything you created.
Sometimes, that requires taking a few steps back. Slowing down. Recalibrating, if you will.
It’s definitely a downside, sure. But in the end, it’s probably for the best.
In general, we work ourselves way too hard trying to establish some kind of foundation. Trying to prove that we can do what needs to be done. Trying to make ourselves as marketable as possible. And when the time comes we no longer have to do that, major adjustments to our mindset also have to be made.
But that’s the price we pay, for finding even a small amount of success in all this. Being able to sit back, tell the stories that come to us, and put as much energy toward them as we know how.
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.