I came to the realization a few weeks ago that I’ve been treating writing as a hobby.
A hobby, as defined by the dictionary, is “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.”
Writing is something I pursue for pleasure. I wouldn’t have a blog if not! It’s something I love doing. It’s something that fulfills me. It doesn’t exactly relax me, but it is something like therapy for me. I feel the most honest when I’m writing. This is where I can say everything on my mind and it doesn’t get jumbled. It doesn’t feel forced or fake or overwhelming. When I’m writing, I am at my happiest.
It’s the second part of that definition that struck me: pursued for pleasure… not as a main occupation.
I wrote a few months ago about how I want to make a living from my writing – either as a published novelist or a full-time freelancer or both. Somehow and some way, I am going to quit the 9-to-5 world to make writing my day job. It’s not going to happen suddenly and it’s not going to happen without hard work.
I read a post awhile back where the author questioned if she would actually enjoy full-time writing; if making it work, would it become less of something she enjoyed? And I completely understood her point and it made me take a step back and decide for myself: do I want writing to become work for me? Would full-time writing simply burn me out and make me less excited about writing?
I’m not sure. I can’t say yes and I can’t say no until I try it out for myself. All I know is that when I wrote for NaNoWriMo in November, where I was writing around 2,400 words a day as well as maintaining three posts a week on my blog, all I wanted to do was write more. Every day, I was excited to come back to my computer and continue my story or write a blog post or send a long email to a friend. I was so in love with the writing life!
I want to pursue this dream of mine. I have let so many dreams crash and burn because I didn’t put the effort and discipline into achieving them. I made a decision to make writing more than a hobby for me. It’s become something to do if I get around to it. Blog posts are put together sloppily with little thought, guest posts are submitted at the last minute, and that freelancing career I need to get started on? I haven’t even started it. Not even a little bit.
From this moment forward (well, actually from the moment I decided on this which was last Friday), I’m treating writing as my side job. It is my second job, my other occupation. I’m not making money from it (yet), but it is still just as important to me as my regular full-time job. (Well, with a little more flexibility.) I need to put time, effort, and maybe even some money into carving out a creative writing life.
It means waking up on Saturday and spending hours at Starbucks to write. It means more thoughtful and meaningful blog posts, where I spend time editing and proofreading. It means taking my guest posts more seriously and sticking to the deadlines I set. It means reaching out to other bloggers and pitching ideas to post on their blog to continue my guest posting goal. It means signing up for freelancing websites and scouring the web for different places to submit my writing, even if it gets rejected. It means signing up for e-courses on copywriting, online marketing, and publishing. (And possibly crying every time I find a kick-ass e-course on Media Bistro and then seeing the price tag.) It means actually writing fiction and not just daydreaming about it. Doing research.
Ever since I graduated from college, I’ve spent my weekends doing things for me. Sleeping in, lazing around, reading, shopping, lunches out, pedicures, adventures to Orlando. It’s been nice. After spending all of my life in school where weekends meant my one time to catch up on homework and studying, I let myself go for a little while. I didn’t want to spend my weekends doing any kind of work. And once I accepted my full-time position, it was even more of a release for me to have the downtime I craved.
But it’s time to get back to work.
If I want to one day quit my full-time job to make a living from my writing, I have to start putting in the work now. I’m not going to have people clamoring for my writing if I’m not hustling to get my work read now. I don’t want writing to be a hobby for me. I want it to be work. I know this isn’t a sentiment some people share and that’s okay. For me, I need to look at it as work so then I’ll be forced to treat it more seriously. Stop letting laziness and my fear of not being good enough hold me back from what I’m meant to be doing.
I know I write better at home than in a coffee shop, but I’m more focused about finding freelance work and replying to emails in a busy setting. I know I write my best in the afternoon, and I need to take breaks between writing sessions to give my mind a break. I know I am easily distracted and need complete silence when I’m writing.
And I also know this: I was born to write. My life would be empty if I didn’t have somewhere to flesh out my thoughts and writing is where I feel completely at peace with myself. It may take a long time for me to get to a place where I am making a living from my writing, but this has always been my dream. Even when I was a little girl, all I could imagine myself doing was writing.
Writing is ingrained so deep into my bones, it is so essentially who I am, that without it… I am lost.
So while I still intend on filling my weekends up with much-needed downtime (and pool days because summer!), I also intend on becoming more serious and dedicated about pursuing a writing life.