It could happen to you.
One day everything is going the way it always has. You have a job, you’re getting closer to achieving your dreams. You’re finally making time for the things that truly matter.
And the next, it’s all gone.
It’s happened to me. I will never forget what it felt like to arrive home from work at the start of what was supposed to be a setllar weekend — four months into the first real job I’d gotten since graduation — only to be told not to return on Monday.
Freelancers are no stranger to the “we no longer need you” email. Clients are under no obligation to give you any notice before severing whatever contract the two of you came up with.
And recently I watched as many of my very talented, capable friends lost their jobs because in online publishing, there are just some things you can’t foresee, control, undo, or fix.
It’s heartbreaking to witness. Devastating to experience firsthand. It makes you feel like you aren’t good enough, or makes you worry you did something terribly or wrong.
Even when it isn’t your fault — even when you worked hard and did the best you could — sometimes life happens. Things come to an end unexpectedly. And the last thing you want is to scramble to scrape together something that will keep you afloat if and when things go wrong.
This is the reason I very rarely maintain only one job or “gig” as a writer. I always have multiple backup plans, things to fall back on, a reasonable amount of savings in the bank. Always a list of potential clients I can contact, always a handful of ideas. Always seeking to build my blog, Patreon, and Youtube subscriber base.
Never underestimate the difference a single day can make.
Nothing is guaranteed. And nothing is forever.
You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Today, even. You could wake up and discover everything you’d worked so hard to nurture, to accomplish, to build and create … is no more.
I’m so grateful to have what I do. But in moments like these, I worry about my future as a writer, as an editor, as a person who creates things on the internet. It’s wholly unpredictable. And that’s terrifying.
It doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your passion, chase your dream, believe you’re capable of amazing things.
But you can’t rely on just one project. You need more than one source of income. More than one outlet. More than one backup plan, in case things don’t go in the direction you expect.
It’s OK to worry about losing everything. A little apprehension makes us cautious, helps us plan for worst-case scenarios.
Be prepared. Work as smart as you can. Be brave. Go forth and write on.
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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.