Building a life writing requires finding some balance. Many writers are bitten by the guilt monster. They may feel they write too much or too little. Finding balance means not spending a bunch of time thinking about writing. In addition, this means not spending a lot of time writing about topics that don’t interest you. This focus may also mean not writing topics that don’t pay the bills. While writing is fun, and an incredible job to get paid at, the brutal truth is that we all have to pay bills. The utility companies do not audit where money comes from; they simply need payment. For many writers, this forces a side gig relationship to occur. You can also read that last sentence as “love/hate” relationship. Loving to write, and hating that it is not possible to pay the bills with this craft. Here are five steps to make peace with this thing called writing.
Step 1: Stare the monster in the eye
The biggest stress a writer has to face is not strength of coffee in their cup. Instead, authors find difficulty paying all the bills. For many writers, they write on the side and use their day job to pay the bills. I am currently using a mix of dog sitting, IT consulting, and writing to pay my bills. Understanding your bills and how writing fits in is a crucial thing to making peace. If your writing doesn’t make much, perhaps writing pays a particular bill each month? Knowing this particular detail can help motivate a writer.
Step 2: Word count vs. real world
As a writer, the more words we bring into existence, the more power we gain. It is simple to make the conclusion that increasing word count is the key to success. However, if we don’t make this word count, or burn out reaching the goal, writing becomes a chore. The trick with writing is finding a comfortable word count goal. It is better to err on the side of easy, as writing one thing can often lead to more.
Step 3: Practice
Now that a goal has been put into existence, try it on. Don’t simply think about writing, try writing. Writing is the only way to know how well your daily life will work with the chosen word count.
Step 4: Modify word count
Once the word count has been attempted or achieved several times, don’t be afraid to change the number. Perhaps the goal was set too low? Perhaps the word count was set to high? There is no shame in modifying the word count. The goal is not to rule the world in a day. Instead, the goal is to make peace with writing so you can do more of the activity.
Step 5: Evaluate Money
Now that a daily rhythm has been created, how well is the written word doing? Are the articles or chapters being produced doing well? Evaluating the real world impact of each written word is an essential way to gain traction as a writer. We don’t want to focus on spending too much time on activities that SHOULD be paying out, but are not.
The following are the steps I am going through to make peace with writing. I am not sure I will ever fully make peace, but these have helped me more forward. Do you have any suggestions or comments on how you slay the writing guilt monster? Let me know via Facebook or Twitter. Looking forward to hearing more from you!