Writing As Work (It's Hard)

I’m sitting in a coffee shop, watching it come alive as the morning hours slip by, and wishing words weren’t so difficult right now.

 I want to write. This desire isn’t unusual, but knowing what to write is often what stops me.

This is the second, official week that I am no longer identified as, primarily, a nanny. I’ll still see the girls every week, but only once a week, and the transition is fresh. 

A year ago, I guessed I might be here. It’s only natural, as Ayden and Avery start preschool, that I also begin moving towards whatever comes next. Nannying was never a five-year plan, and next month I start my fourth year with this family. So, it’s time, and I know that.

Time, however, is what’s weird. I have a lot of it now, which is paralyzing. I’ve idealized this season, thinking about all the projects I could complete, all the writing I could get done, all the time I’d have to spend pursuing the things that will hopefully bring me closer to “my career."

It’s not so rosy, though. I’ve been wondering what my career will be since 5th grade. But three and a half years out of college haven’t brought me much closer.

One victory is this: I am finally (like, in real life finally, not just online) claiming the title of “writer." When strangers ask the inevitable what do you do? I am no longer saying “nanny” without a mention of my love for words. 

Since a few months ago, I’ve been proclaiming that I WRITE! and honestly, the response has been so positive, so encouraging, and so curious. People want to know what kind of writing, and I somewhat successfully define creative non-fiction. I throw out examples that are usually followed with quizzical looks, but I elaborate as best I can, and each time I do, I gain more confidence. I am genuinely proud to share this; I am genuinely proud to be a writer. 

The hard part, of course, is making it my work. Making it resemble, in some small way, my job. IT IS SO HARD, YOU GUYS. Working from home, where there are cozy beds to fall into and tv’s to turn on and endless ways to putter, is no joke. It is a serious discipline. 

I know there aren't a shortage of companies, websites, and people in general who need writers. But I am a faceless name in the sea of inquisitive e-mails, wondering if spots are available for contributors. I’ve gotten one gig over the last few months, which really is so exciting, but homegirl can only accept so many unpaid opportunities, right?

I get hard on myself at these times. Shouldn’t I accept any position? Shouldn’t I willingly and gladly take any chance to be published? Should I be pursuing a part-time job in addition to writing? Why don’t I just keep nannying, if that’s the case?

Do what makes the most sense for you, I hear. But I don’t know what makes the most sense for me. I guess that’s what I’m figuring out, but the voice of should runs rampant regardless.  

I do what I can, which is writing even when I don’t know what to say, and even if no one will see. I write because it’s the one thing I can actively choose, day-in and day-out, that will create lasting good for my day. Jobs, freelance, and collaborations will continue existing, but getting them isn’t a magic formula. The work is a slow-burn, of which I have to push through and pursue at every step.

If any of the self-identifying creatives out there have practical ways they stay motivated, find work, and gain inspiration, I’m all ears. There is nothing more exciting to me than learning how others find their rhythm, and as I search for my own, I would love to hear yours.