Some days, I do not want to be a writer.
Don’t get me wrong. I love to write. I NEED to write.
But “writing” and “being a writer” are two very different things. One is mostly fun. The other often is not. One comes without obligations or true commitments. The other involves pressure and time constraints and, well … effort.
There are days I question whether I’m really built for this life. The long hours in front of a screen, the need to concentrate deeply for long stretches of time. The research, the rewriting, the unsolicited criticism …
As much as I love sitting down to write, and actually writing, I do not always love what comes along with it.
There are a lot of writers out there who write things on their own time and do not expose themselves to the pressures of deadlines and feedback and Making It. Sometimes I wish I could be one of those people again. Get a “real” job. Write only when it suited me.
But I know that’s not how I meant to do this.
I know because I often question myself. I don’t simply wake up, write for 10-12 hours, and simply assume this is where I’m supposed to be whether or not I struggle. When I do struggle, I sit back and I ask myself, out loud, “If this is so hard for you, why are you doing it? Can you stand to keep doing it? Is it worth it?”
So far, the answer has always been yes.
Because what starts out as frustration quickly turns into an opportunity to reflect not only on how I am feeling, but how I have been feeling, and how that relates to my recent work.
I think we all go through periods like this. When we just don’t know if what we’re doing is worth the struggle.
If you take the time to think about it and realize it isn’t worth it at all, well, that’s not a bad thing. You don’t have to keep doing something you hate — not forever, at least. (Yes, there are exceptions to this, but stick with me.)
And if you’ve accidentally reminded yourself why you’re doing this difficult thing — because it makes you happy? Because it brings joy to others? Because it’s all going to be worth it someday? — that’s amazing.
Questioning our motivations, checking in with ourselves, can remind us that (hopefully) what we’re doing, we’re doing for the right reasons.
But we also need to remember to breathe in the moments as they come. Enjoy the writing time for what it is right now. Take in how magical it feels to get pulled into a story and feel like you’re there …
And come back to that when you’re struggling. Remember the good times. They’ll make the bad times worth living through.
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.