As I connect more to writers online, I stumble upon chatter about the idea of whether or not one should write full-time (spoiler alert: the answer seems to be only if you have money and insurance coming from somewhere). I might string to that some of the unease I’ve felt as I dabble with blogging, tweeting, and writing because I realize there are some people blogging, tweeting, and writing as part of a tenuous existence in the so-called “gig” economy, without the modest safety nets that I have as someone who worked a day job for over twenty years. I am drawn to the dream of writing, those times when I get lost in the words, and occasionally indulge in pleasant yet innocuous fantasies of publication success. But I am pondering tonight how the attempt to “do what you love” could lead someone to feel nothing but stress and anxiety about how to pay the bills. It makes me worry about my fellow writers.
I lean toward compromise. Perhaps it is not necessary to have every moment of one’s day match some idealized version of a creative life. A day job helps, whether part- or full-time, enough to make sure the bills are paid.
I think it helps to find ways to love some of what you do, both the creative parts and the day job. As you undertake any task, be present. Observe what is (or could be) satisfying about the work you do.
I want to bring that same mindfulness to my writing when I get distracted by doubts. Instead of spending time on the fears and what ifs, I want to focus on what I love about the writing. My joy in chasing after a phrase or an image. The tools of the trade. I want to dive into the blank spaces to see what might emerge. And later to prune and shape those early attempts to see what more is possible.