Learning To Love the Hustle

Hello and welcome to another embarrassed and more than a little self-conscious edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

I took last week off from blogging, simply because my brain was a complete desert of ideas on what to talk about. I’m pretty proud of my blogging habit this year, in that I’m finally managing to maintain a consistent posting schedule. So, I’m not going to beat myself up over missing a week, even if there wasn’t much of an excuse for it.

So, this morning, as I was bemoaning in my journal my rather sluggish word count pace for my first “work” project, I came to a stark realization about myself. An uncomfortable one. Dirty, even. Something I’m not even sure I should admit in a public forum. But this blog is about the struggle of writing so here we go.

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few days about how quickly I burn myself out whenever I try to cram extra writing into my days. Which lead to the realization that the cause is that I am giving up my typical leisure activities in favor of getting my words in. Which then got me wondering why don’t I consider writing a leisure time? I mean, it’s work, obviously, never let it be said that it’s not work, but… why isn’t it fun for me? Isn’t it my passion? Shouldn’t time spent writing invigorate me? Which then had me asking myself the age old question: why do I write? This morning, I think I found the answer, and it was a major disappointment.

I was 11 years old when I started my first novel (a surprisingly dark Harry Potter knockoff, for those curious), so to say I’ve always been a writer wouldn’t be that much of a stretch. But almost nearly as long as I’ve been a writer, one of my chief concerns regarding my creative passion was how to monetize it. I grew up poor and have lived below the poverty line multiple times as an adult, and constant worry about having money is still deeply ingrained in me today. It’s a sad, sad thing to attach to one’s passion, but I did it without even realizing it. Though my dreams of making a living off my writing have tempered somewhat as an adult, and especially over the last few years as I have taken it more and more seriously, the point remains that my goal has never (or at least rarely) been to create something that people love, but something that people buy.

Okay, to be fair, that’s not entirely true. I wrote fanfiction for fifteen years on the back of my desire to create and fueled solely by the people that read it and loved it all along the way. So I know I can do it for the sheer joy of the thing, but it’s just been so much harder to start from the ground up with completely original material and no sure audience waiting. The anxiety and self-doubt, and the imposter syndrome stemming from my successful fandom years, has really weighed on my creative ambition. And in the void left by friends and strangers telling me that my writing is good, I turned back to money for motivation.

Word to the wise: money is a shitty motivator.

The answer to my question about how to avoid burn out is really to rediscover how to love writing as a past time rather than a career in potentia. It’s learning to let go of my fears that I won’t succeed as a writer, because I’m measuring success by the wrong metric. It’s relaxing the intense sense of urgency I feel, like I’m running out of time to be a professional writer, because… I’m 32.

Letting go of all these neuroses isn’t going to be easy. But the first step of solving a problem is recognizing that it exists, right? So, here’s me taking that first step.


As the blog continues to creep toward another major follower milestone, let me take a moment to thank everyone who has followed my extremely ponderous journey. Thanks to everyone who has offered encouragement, insight, and advice. But most of all, thanks for reading.

Kerry Share

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One thought on “Learning To Love the Hustle

  1. I think we all have to face ourselves once in a while when it comes to writing, and really ask those tough questions of ourselves. So good on you for asking the question!

    I recently read Late Bloomers by Rich Karlsgaard (in part because I’m 35 and not yet “made it” as an author (whatever that means)). It kind of helped me reorient my timeline mindset to something more realistic, less unkind to myself. It’s a learning process! Having a lot of fellow aspiring writers in my age bracket (and older!) to commiserate with and share support also really helps drive home the fact that there’s no one-size-fits-all for writers, no matter what their motivation is. And being paid for your work is totally a fine motivator! Fiction just pays like crap right now. (I think I just about had a melt down when I learned Shirley Jackson’s paycheck for “The Lottery” in the 50’s is STILL the going rate for pro-level short fiction! But she could rent a house in rural VT for three months with that payout! XD Oh, the pain.)

    Like

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