No job, even your dream job, is perfect. For all of the things that are brilliant about it, there will be another thing that sucks. I think sometimes we’re not as honest as we could be about this. We’re afraid that admitting there are problems will be the same as saying that our job is terrible. But that’s not how it works. So today, let me tell you about the things that make writing a great job, and the things that make it suck.
I love writing, and I get to do it every day.
Sure, this seems obvious. It’s a common theme in dream jobs – after all, part of it is your dream. And writing is freeing for me in a way that few other things are – the only thing that’s just as good is roleplaying. And, let’s be fair, that’s because it’s just another form of storytelling.
I can’t stress how big a thing this is, though. I get, every day, to sit down and do something not only that I love, but that provides me solace from the relentless noise of my mind. I get to escape the reality of being me, knowing that it’s not something that I’m being a bother with. It’s my job. I never have to feel bad for doing it.
This is hands down the single best part of my job – as you’d expect.
But if I don’t do well with writing on a given day, it feels awful.
When you put all your eggs in one basket, dropping that basket – or even spilling it a little bit – sucks. So if you have a day where you sit and try and write and it just doesn’t happen? You feel immediately terrible. It’s the same kind of all-or-nothing feeling that leads me to feel like I can never admit my dream job is problematic.
This might be an experience that is specific to having an anxiety disorder. I don’t think it is though. The extent and frequency to which I experience it might be, but I don’t know a person who at some point or another hasn’t felt like the world is crashing down because something small went wrong. Everyone understands what that feels like, even if they don’t have to contend with it daily.
And when it’s about something that is so precious to you, from which you derive so much enjoyment, it’s even harder. But everyone has bad days. Everyone has slow days.
I get to share this thing I love with other people, and feel their love for it in return.
Feelings better than the escape of writing? Giving that precious thing I have made to other people, and seeing their reactions. The fact that I get messages from people whose lives have been improved by reading my work, who have derived even a bit of enjoyment from it – that’s incredible to me. I will never stop being overwhelmed by that feeling.
It’s this feeling that made me pursue writing as a job. I got into it by posting flash fiction about roleplaying characters on my personal Facebook. My friends’ love for it and their effusive feedback made me confident enough to do this. And even more than that, it got me addicted to that kind of feedback. I had been so afraid of it before, and now I am hooked.
But sometimes it feels like I’m screaming into a void, and no one is listening.
I post at least one creative writing work every week, even if it’s just a poem. I post longer works less often, but when I do I have a lot more anticipation around doing so. And sometimes? Sometimes no one responds. Sometimes no one likes the post, or my social media posts about it, or talks to me about the thing that I’ve written. A lot of the time, I’m just writing.
That’s tough. That’s really tough. And I can’t tell you how many meltdowns I’ve had where I am sitting there, sobbing about how no one wants the things I am making. Or about how I don’t know why no one is responding. It’s incredibly tough, and it’s been especially tough recently. I’m grateful to have an incredible support network who are helping me move from overwhelmed to a place where I can identify the problem and solve it.
The other aspects of my job mean I’m never doing the same thing constantly.
I’ve always been a polymath, and I’ve always enjoyed that about myself. If you asked me what my favourite thing about myself was, that’s what I’d say. Maybe that’s a bit of a cop out, but it’s true! So I was never going to be happy in a job that didn’t let me use that in some way. Being self-employed, and being a writer, does.
I have to do so many different things, and there’s always some new thing I need to learn how to do. It means that in my day, I’m always doing a bunch of different things. The great thing about this is that if one side of my job is going wrong? I can make the other sides go right, and still feel like I’ve achieved something. I might drop a ball, but I can still juggle the rest.
But sometimes I wish there weren’t so many ‘other’ things I have to do.
Some days, I just want to write. Some days the number of different things I have to do is overwhelming. Some days I’m juggling so many balls that dropping one is a cascade effect, where next thing you know everything is tumbling down.
This is a difficult situation to be in regardless, but with anxiety and depression it’s even worse. Everything is magnified, and when it tumbles down so do I. But even still, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Because even on the worst days, it’s still my dream job. My worst days now are better than my best days just a few years ago, and so much of it is due to this.
Did you know that I finished my next novel last week? Did you also know that I’m releasing it as a beta to ALL of my Patrons this Thursday? Don’t miss your chance to pledge as little as $1 a month and get your own copy.