You probably clicked on this post after rolling your eyes, thinking this was just going to be me complaining about my job or my blog or just life in general.
Yeah, I don’t do that. It would be a waste of both your time and mine to take up space on the internet just to whine about my privilege.
At the same time, this blog exists as a way for writers and non-writers alike to see the real, raw truths of a creator’s life. Sometimes what you see isn’t very pretty. I could sugar coat everything for you and make writing sound like the most fun, rewarding, worthwhile job on the planet, but I’d be lying.
Every job — even writing — has its challenges. And sometimes, in order to face them, we have to look at them from all angles. Question the way we are doing things. Ask ourselves, more than once, if this is REALLY the way we want things to be.
Today, after spending a full Saturday doing what I love — writing about things I love — I am in that place of questioning. Is living a life as a “nights and weekends only” writer really what I want? Is it what I need? Is it what I can handle?
Come along this journey with me as I piece together the solutions to my woes. Maybe there will be something you can take away from it all and apply to your own struggles as a writer.
Here’s the truth: At the end of 2018 I decided to leave my full-time job as a writer and instead spend eight hours a day editing other writers’ work.
This was an opportunity presented to me by my employer — I didn’t have to switch companies or readjust to a new work environment for this to happen — and one I said yes to almost instantly.
A lot of writers, especially those in media like myself, dream of being “promoted” from writer to editor. This is often the expected progression of one’s career.
To be clear, I am very grateful for the opportunity to do the work that I do every day. I am learning new things every day. Overall, I’m happy with my work and adore the people I work with.
But with each day that passes, I miss the thrill of writing more and more.
When I agreed to take on an editing role, I agreed to let go of my identity as a full-time writer. It didn’t mean I couldn’t write anymore. It simply meant that a company would no longer be paying me to make my own words, just to make other people’s words look nice.
Technically, I am only a writer on my own time. From the hours of 5 PM to 5 AM, let’s say. Though to be fair, about half that time is, on a good night, spent sleeping. I write these blog posts, I freelance, I work on personal projects when I have the time, space, and energy to do so.
But there are days I wish I could spend eight to 10 hours writing during the day … and the rest of my time not having to push myself so hard to make some kind of name for myself outside of normal work hours.
I know “normal work hours” really isn’t a thing in this industry anymore. Just understand that when you’re questioning the reasoning behind the way you’re living your life, you have to lay everything out on the table and be honest. My honesty, at this very moment, is that I’m flipping tired of working 12 hour days. There, I said it. I am grateful for the opportunities it has granted me and will continue to grant me, but I AM TIRED.
This isn’t a sustainable way to do this. I know that. I can’t work full-time as an editor and also full-time as a writer. Believe it or not, these two things, at least in my experience, use different kinds of energy that make balancing both so much harder. As a writer, you’re telling a story through your own voice. As an editor, you’re trying to figure out how to tell the best possible story using someone else’s. It’s wonderful. It’s also exhausting.
I love editing. I really do. But I don’t want to BE an editor. I want to spend the majority of my time writing. But I’m also past the point of feeling like I need to write about anything and everything just to have more stuff out there. I might be at a point where I get to pick and choose what I do and don’t write about.
But that’s also scary, because it implies I might actually know what I’m doing, and … I’m not sure I do.
I don’t want to leave my job, I don’t feel like this is the right time for that kind of major life change. But at the same time, in life, no time is the right time. Sometimes … you just have to make the jump.
Again … I say that from a highly privileged position. I’m aware of that. I am at a place personally and professionally where I can leave one job for another if I wanted to. A lot of people cannot do that. I’ve been there. I remember.
What’s the right thing to do here? Do I keep pushing myself as hard as I can until I can make writing my full-time career again, but sustainably this time? Maybe. Maybe I can still do good work, but not work so much.
Maybe once I’m done writing this book I just need to take a break from that kind of writing for a bit. It’s really draining me — in a good way, but also, yikes.
I think we all face moments in our writing lives during which we just have NO CLUE WHAT’S HAPPENING. And maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe we experience doubt and fear and frustration because we need to be reminded that long with doubt and fear and frustration often comes confidence and hope and excitement.
Do I know what the next 12, even six months of my life as a writer are going to look like? Absolutely not. Maybe things will change drastically. Maybe they won’t, but I will find, little by little, ways to make all this work. To balance out my life as best I can. To focus more on the things I truly enjoy writing and less on the things I don’t.
Thank you for all your support. I know each and every one of you is struggling with something whether it’s writing related or not, whether you’re talking about it publicly or not. I’m always happy to offer my support right back to you in any way I can. Weird for a total stranger to offer, I know — I’m not saying you can come over and sit on my couch and vent about all your problems. I’m not a doctor.
But if there is any way I can help you begin to sort through the tangled parts of your life that make writing more difficult, please let me know. I’m not doing this so I can write about how challenging my life is, I’m doing it to remind you that life is challenging and it’s OK to talk about it. It’s also OK to ask for help.
Keep going. Keep writing. You got this. We all got this.
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.