I’ve teased many a would-be writers by reminding them the secret to being a writer: writing. So when I decided to pursue freelance writing and editing, I had to eat my words. If I’m going to be a writer, I have to write. Right?
Immediately after making the decision to pursue this career, I realized how I have naturally surrounded myself with professionals in the field. I was an English major, and words bring me together with certain people anyway, but some of my closest friends are successful, published authors or professional editors. Their support has been fantastic, giving me three very different projects in the first days of my new career.
One project included coauthoring a middle level book with a NY Time Best Selling Author. I had never written fiction, and I was concerned that I may not be able to do it. I knew that I need to write, though. And I would be a fool to pass up this opportunity.
Turns out, I’m not too bad at it. I know I have a long ways to go, and I’ve given myself a lot of grace through this process. But I did it. I wrote. It’s done. Even if it’s a terrible book (which it isn’t), it is done.
I am celebrating the completion of the manuscript, but it’s important to reflect on what I’ve learned through figuring it out, learning from mentors or making mistakes.
- I am blessed. As mentioned before, I have a ready-made support group. Not only have they helped me find work, but they believe I can pretty much do anything. They are excellent sounding boards, sometimes giving ME ideas. Unlike traditional workplace associates, there isn’t a sense of competition or offense. In fact, I’ve found out there is an amazing creative community out there! I’ve been welcomed by established groups and advised by world-famous artists. I’d feared writing and working from home would be a lonely job; it’s the opposite.
- I write/edit best in the mornings. I am not very disciplined in getting up in the morning, unless I have an appointment to go to. Luckily, my first full week of writing my kids went to a morning camp. I had a few hours every morning to focus on writing. It was wonderful, and I realized how much more productive and happy I am working in the morning.
- I get very focused. I’ve learned the last couple of years I am not a multi-tasker, but it affects my writing job in a way for which I hadn’t accounted. Basicaly, if I am reading and someone talks to me, I am pretty much oblivious. And if by miracle my family does get my attention, I am annoyed by the interruption.
- I like writing at home. My first week of writing professionally I took my kids to day camp. I would come home and set up my tablet, keyboard, dining chair and little table on my little porch with a cup of coffee and work. About the time the sun would directly shine on me to the point of being in arable, it was time to stop and pick up the kids. It actually made me love my home even more, but I know would love a home office.
- Perfection isn’t necessary. I’m an all-or-nothing perfectionist–I either do it perfect or not at all. Since perfection is impossible, my attempt at obtaining it can cause a lot of stress. This being my first manuscript, I knew it wouldn’t be perfect, so I let it go. But I realized this isn’t just true of my first manuscript, but of every manuscript. It won’t be perfect. Do well, but don’t lose sleep or progress over it.
- I need to get into a routine. Sure I need to write on a more consistent schedule, but I need to make sure I don’t neglect some very important aspects of my business. It was easy to spend all of my work time writing the book, but now that I’m don’t I don’t have the next project lined up. My routine needs to include creative as well as networking, marketing and reading/learning. But because of #3, I can get just as negligent of the creative as well. A balance of all will help provide consistent generation and completion of work.
- I can’t wait for school to start. I’ve never understood why mothers were excited about school starting–I love being with my kids all the time. I’m fortunate enough that my husband has been home with me, too. I hate that summer is ending, it’s been like a dream. I am ready to seriously pursue this career, but it’s pretty difficult with waking up late in the morning, spending hours watching Doctor Who with my family, and having no necessary structure in my schedule.
- I need to stretch my writing. I had never written fiction, and I did pretty well. I enjoyed it, but I wonder if there are other types of writing I may prefer. Or maybe I can at least find writing that is faster and pays sooner than long fiction.
- I need to write on my own. As I mentioned, I was blessed with an experienced coauthor. It was a very positive experience. I feel equal ownership in the story, but I definitely want to try it on my own. I didn’t mind sacrificing my ideas for the greater good, but it would be nice if I didn’t have to…at least not until I hear from an editor.
- I wish I’d done this sooner. I’m so thankful for all the professional opportunities I’ve had, and I was never ready to work for myself until this summer, but I still wish my business was built up more than it is. I wish I was able to do this full-time without concern for income. I wish I had the ability to go to conventions for learning more about whatever, networking with other artists and marketing my own work and services. I want to say “I’m a writer and editor” without feeling like an impostor. Although, for the first time in my post-college life, I don’t feel like a fake. I suppose I don’t want to feel like an amateur. Though I don’t feel that either. Maybe I just want to not feel unqualified to feel as confident as I do.
And now I have a digital stamp to mark these revelations, requiring much more accountability than the floating, uncommitted thoughts would. I can wait until school starts back up in two-and-a-half weeks, but the more excuses I make, the more excuses I’ll make.
Tomorrow is Monday. A work day. Let’s see how I can make my job better so that next year I can be where I wish I was now.