Last night, I went to sleep with tense shoulders and a clenched jaw, thanks to my masochistic habit of reading work emails on my days off. However, on this most wonderful day of hindsight-induced clarity that the Lord hath made, I vow to never — ever, ever, ever (!) — do that again. In a recent article published in The New Yorker, the author explored why Americans work so much, but just like I can’t explain my obsession with continuously checking my email, he too, came up rather empty-handed when attempting to answer his question.
Part of the blame goes to the fact that I chose to write full-time and nearly two years after taking the plunge into making my own schedule and working independently (to an extent), I still struggle to maintain a healthy life-work balance. After feeling that old, familiar stress-related neck strain forcing my ears to damn near touch my neck, I thought to myself, What part of the game is this? Truth be told, I didn’t anticipate half the experiences I’ve had with freelance writing for a living, including some of the troubles that have recently landed in my inbox.
And you wanna know something else? I don’t feel like writing a damn thing. In fact, it’s the last thing I want to be doing at the moment. But then, I hear my voice of years past echo from beyond my old cubicle and make its way through menial tasks and co-workers I hate(d). It rounds the bend by where my old desk was located and gently taps me on the shoulder to say, But this what you asked for. You’re living your dream. And I am instantly grateful for the courage, growth, opportunities and knowledge it has brought me. But honestly, sometimes this entire arrangement feels more like a nightmare.
Two years in and I’m far removed enough from the beginning to realize that I had the game all twisted. In the emo words of Drake, “Nothing was the same” once I found out the real deal. So, in the spirit of my prior naiveté and overall shitty attitude du jour, I’m here to set the record straight for anyone who’s all googly-eyed over the prospect of living out their dream of writing full-time.
I’mma let y’all finish daydreaming, but here are five fallacies you might currently have about freelance writing full-time that are nothing more than lies from the pit of hell:
Mellifluous words of profound inspiration will constantly spew forth from my pen.
I tried to come up with an elegant way of saying this, but all I got is HELL NAH.
I am overflowing with gratefulness that I’m living my dream.
OK, so there’s a caveat. It depends on what you’re paid to create and I’ve learned that a) sometimes I’m expected to cover topics that don’t interest me and b) I don’t absolutely love everything I create. It’s difficult to remember gratefulness when you’re struggling through a godawful assignment. For this reason, I plan to be more selective about what I write, but depending on the circumstances, beginning freelancers may not always feel like they have that luxury.
It’s so much easier to write a book now that you’re writing full-time.
I mean, the ideas are just nonstop, right? You’re already writing other shit, so just ride that creative wave into a book, right?! Um, that’s cute and all, but my mind has repeatedly rejected that notion. I haven’t abandoned the idea altogether, but I’m finding less reasons to put up a fight.
People will praise me constantly for breaking into a competitive field – and I will expect and need them to care about my writing.
Bottom line is they really haven’t, they ain’t and I don’t.
Since you’re doing what you love, it’ll never feel like work.
SIGH. Maybe when I’m Oprah, I’ll agree with this sentiment, but until then? Lies.
And that, my dear would-be full-time writers, is ALL truth, no backspace.