I used to dream about what it would be like to live like a “real” writer.
I assumed I’d be able to get a writing job I loved right out of college, if I worked hard enough as a student, gained the right experience, and proved I deserved it.
But here’s the thing about jobs: They’re hard, and they aren’t always fun. Even when writing is involved.
And that’s the case for any day job. I think it’s safe to assume the majority of adults don’t enjoy going to work. They do it because they have to.
That doesn’t mean all of these people are miserable. Many — especially creatives — likely have something worthwhile to come home to. A hobby … like writing for fun.
There’s one thing no one ever told me growing up that I wish I’d heard daily.
You do not have to love your day job.
You don’t even have to like it.
But sometimes, it’s the day job that grants you the opportunity to pursue your dream job. Or just write on the side.
There’s nothing wrong with making a little money doing what you love aside from the consistent paycheck you get from an employer.
Writing full-time isn’t what makes you a writer.
You’re not a writer because you work for yourself, or don’t have a commute, or you technically don’t ever have to wear pants.
You’re a writer because you tell stories.
It doesn’t matter how much money you make doing it — if any at all. It doesn’t matter if you spend all day writing or squeeze in a few hours at night after everyone else goes to sleep.
All that matters is that you’re making it work. You’re figuring it out. You’re doing what you have to do to make writing happen, whether it’s fun or not.
Writers don’t always live the glamorous, stress-free, relaxed lives people think they do. In reality, most of them — especially in the beginning — start out working jobs they don’t like so they can go home and eat dinner over their laptop keyboards.
These are the sacrifices we make when we choose this path.
We choose to put responsibility first, creative adventures second.
Maybe someday you’ll spend all day doing what you love. Maybe not.
But do what you have to do so you can also do what you want to do. Make the most of the situation you’re in. Make it work. Make it count.
Don’t wait for someone or something to come along and offer you the writing gig you’ve always dreamed of. That’s not how it goes.
Go to work. Work hard. Earn that paycheck.
Come home. Drink that coffee. Write that book. Impress that client. Grow that blog.
Nothing you’re doing is pointless.
Never forget how much your writing time means to you — and always cherish it, even if you can only handle the minimum amount of “outside-of-work” work for now.
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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.