Why Writers MUST Write for themselves

None of the writers that I know ‘fell’ into writing. It’s not a job you generally stumble into to pay the bills, or because your Dad has a friend who has a sister who can get you a job. Most writers start off as writers quite simply because they love writing. They love the feeling of pouring your thoughts onto a blank piece of paper to make something substantial, something that can elicit emotion and inspire ideas. Why then as a busy freelance writer is it easy to fall into a ‘writing is a chore’ mind-set?

I guess like anything that pays the bills there can become an element of the ‘must’ about your writing and anything that becomes a ‘must’ can feel like a drag. Certainly on a rainy Wednesday afternoon with three deadlines hanging over you and an article about ‘the best ways to care for your pet chinchilla’ staring out from your screen writing can start to feel like an odd form of torture.

That’s why I think that as busy as you are, as tired as you are as thoroughly irritated with the sound of your fingers tapping over the keys as you are, you must, must, must carve out time to write for yourself. Write about what you love, write in a style you love, publish it online or don’t but make sure you do it. Writers are by their nature creatives, but for many writers who need to pay their rent they won’t always have the luxury of writing what they enjoy. By taking just a few minutes a day to write a little of what you love you can keep the creative fires burning.

For me that might mean a few scribblings before bed time or the first few pages of a novel that I probably won’t ever finish.  If you love to write, WRITE and occasionally do it selfishly and only for you.

How I Stopped Being Embarrassed and Started getting Stuff Done

I’d say the single biggest force in stopping me turning freelance sooner wasn’t the fear of not being able to pay the bills or the worry I wasn’t good enough.  It was embarrassment, embarrassment at admitting to myself or to anyone else that I wanted to write full time and deviate from a career path I had been working at for nearly ten years. I had visions of people simply laughing at my decision or worse at the work I was producing.  My fear of the opinions and criticisms of the people I knew or even the wider world meant that at first I kept my burgeoning freelance career as a closely guarded secret, telling only my partner for months and months.

I realised that my embarrassment reflex had always been pretty high since childhood extending to being incapable of watching people being embarrassed on TV (I still can’t watch X factor!)  But letting embarrassment or perhaps more rightly fear guide my life decision seems like a pretty poor way to get along so I made a conscious decision to factor it out of my choices.  This was tough, remains tough and I still find myself supressing this fearful part of my psyche but eventually my need to be happier and have a more fulfilling (if sometimes less well paid) career won out.

So I left a well-paid but stressful career and embarked on the scary but much more fulfilling path of freelance writing.  I still get worried, I still even get a little embarrassed of telling people what I do for a living (like it’s a pretend job!) but I am doing it, so I guess I partially conquered the fear for the moment.  It got me thinking about how many other people have remained or do remain in a situation that makes them unhappy because there embarrassed of what people may think of them if they make a change.

I guess the question to ask yourself then is ‘Why am I not doing what I want?’ and if the answer is rooted in fear then you should reassess.  Trust me, stop being embarrassed and you will finally start getting the important stuff done.