I may be exaggerating when I say I gave up my day job to write full time. Giving up my part time work to write part time, would be a more accurate description. And perhaps I have misled you just a little with the title of this post. Because this is more of a ‘Watch Me Try’ than a ‘How To’.
Then read on.
So here we are, all in the throes of a worldwide lockdown. You’d think this would be the ideal time to finish a novel, or finally start the one you always meant to start. But lockdown has not really given us any more motivation than we had before.
Actually, not strictly true. Ezzie, a wonderful writer friend of mine did reach the end of her novel the other day. She typed The End (at the actual end, not just on a random blank page), and sent our little writers group a screenshot. Many happy gifs followed. And I am full of admiration for her, and inspired by her commitment.
So what’s been happening here at WATR? Absolutely bloody nothing. I have not written an iota in months. I fell out of love with a character in my latest novel and decided to retrain in cyber security instead (I’m a programmer in my day job). That was much safer. And would pay the bills.
Yep. I gave up.
Until I didn’t.
A huge amount of soul searching has been going on over the last few months. And this morning it all culminated in the enormous realisation that if I don’t get on with it, I am going to die and I will never have told a single story.
What Was Stopping Me From Writing?
I know myself well enough to be pretty sure that the main reason I wasn’t writing was not because I’d fallen out of love with my character. It was because I was afraid of commitment.
I have only ever dabbled in writing because I have spent my entire life afraid that the quality of my work is not good enough. That people won’t like it. That I could never not work and write full time because I am just not good enough.
I am afraid to commit to it, because everyone knows someone who wants to be a writer and almost all of those writers are unpublished. What I’m saying is, I couldn’t bear the thought of people talking behind my back (or even thinking it and never saying it out loud), she’s a clever girl, I don’t know why she’s wasting her time on writing.
Getting Started Again
How many times have I stopped and started over the years?
Far too many.
Where would I be now if I had carried on and been consistent with writing no matter what?
Probably too scary a question to answer.
So today, after lunch, I opened this blog and started writing this post.
I am giving up everything else. My little web development business I’ve spent 4 years working in. My other blogs. My IT training (ugh, I’m so stupid sometimes, why did I think that was a good idea…). My other on-the-side businesses that never made any real money but weigh heavily on my mind as just more failed projects that I never made a success of and should probably still be toiling away at.
It’s all going. I’m getting rid of the lot. My career will be writing. My hobby will be writing. My life will be writing.
So please follow me on this insane journey because there are bound to be endless posts lamenting the mistake I made in thinking I could make it, mountains of insecurity and self-criticism, and obviously rejections galore. And just maybe the odd post to celebrate a tiny bit of success.
How Did I Give Up My Day Job?
In the end, I just decided to write. And not do anything else.
I sat down today and listed every career-related project I had on the go. I looked at the list and knew that I was setting myself up for failure by having so many items on that list and failing to commit properly to any one of them. None of them were making me especially happy, bringing in anything substantial, or anything I was particularly proud of.
I felt guilty about ALL of them. Projects I had started so enthusiastically but then fallen out of love with. Businesses I had started and given up on. It was a list of failure. On that list was writing. And this blog.
Of all the things I could fail at, I didn’t want it to be writing. Because something deep down inside, despite my insecurities and lack of commitment, actually believes I can bring joy with the stories I have to tell.
So I said to myself: I’m going to write.
And the rest can go.
I’m a single mum of three, and self employed. I don’t make a lot of money. Enough to cover a holiday and pay for a new outfit here and there.
Financially there will be no more holidays (and the one I booked for us in August is not looking like a goer). I’ll have to cut back on everything. I’ve already cancelled the TV licence – Netflix is cheaper. I’m super lucky in that I live in a house with a very small mortgage. My ‘rent’ is therefore low. Our outgoings can be managed.
Lockdown, more than anything, has shown me that we don’t need to be going out spending money all the time. We can be in our homes a lot more than I thought we could. When you have young children it can be easy to get into the mindset of having to take them out to keep them occupied. Lockdown has shown us that we can all rattle around in our house and actually we are not worse off for it (I hope!).
What Happens Next?
- I have quite a lot of admin to do to shut down other projects. That will take some time and I’ll work through that over the next week or two.
- I’ll be writing here regularly – not sure what form that is going to take yet, but as a minimum I will do a monthly update on the progress that I’ve made (some months it might only be I wrote 27 words on my novel, but that’s okay)
- I write. And write. And write!
Give Me a Sign
About three quarters of the way through this post, my 4-year old wanted to go for a bike ride. I tried to get the older boys out, but they were too engrossed in whatever game they are currently playing to enjoy the effects of some fresh air. As I walked along next to the trundling sound of bike stabilisers, we passed our neighbour Dave. Him and his wife live opposite me, and they are a lovely couple who have been married for over 50 years.
Dave stopped to chat and told me my doppelgänger was working in the Co-op. I laughed and said I might end up working there sooner rather than later. And then he said:
How’s the book coming?
And I beamed at him. Not because I haven’t written anything for months and months (which is what I told him), but because he remembered I was writing it, and today I decided that I am going to finish it.
I’m taking that as an auspicious sign.
Today, I gave up my day job and decided to be a writer.