First of all: Boooooo. My real job is writing. It just doesn’t make me money … yet. Our real jobs are what makes us happy, and fills our souls. So we are all, (whether profitable or not) writers and writing is our job.
But in all seriousness, this is one of the questions I get asked most. Which is completely and uttlery fair enough. What on earth do I do to pay the bills and live my life…
I really want to reply to these comments, it seems simple enough – what do I do for a job? But I never ever end up replying, because for me, the story of ‘what I do’ is really complicated, and at the moment quite exhausting.
Let’s roll it back to early 2015. I had just finished my degree in medieval sexuality and english lit, but I needed rent / book / coffee money.
So for all of 2015 I worked as an Exec assistant in a 9-5 office job that quite honestly etched away at my soul. I had very few people around me, the work was wildly boring and there was very little work to do. I would bring my writing in for the endless quiet hours but I never ever managed to get any story telling done at work. This makes me feel guilty, still to this day, I am angry at myself for not making it work. I would complain to my friends, “There is nothing to do at work! I’m so bored.” And I would be bombarded with comments like, “You’re so lucky! Fill it with writing! Read! Do whatever you want to do!”
I still don’t really know why I couldn’t write in the office last year, but I couldn’t. I just could not write. I became an expert at literarily staring into space for hours until someone asked me to get milk. HOW – FUCKING – DEPRESSING. I’m honestly embarrassed to write that. But it was what happened.
Instead, I wrote outside of work, on the weekends and in the early mornings. But obviously, this job was not going to last forever. At the end of the year, I managed to get two businesses to let me run their social media for them. I was okay at doing it. I blogged, did their Insta and Facebook. And they payed me.
I decided that I could do this as my full time job. Get a handful more clients, work for myself, from home and WRITE ALL THE TIME. I honestly thought this was the best idea. It sounds so perfect. As I write this, it sounds perfect. But this job has come with a hundred and one challenges, and has taken a toll on my mental health.
So that is what I’ve been doing all year. I’ve been running my own business called ‘The Social Office’ and I create content and manage people’s social media accounts. That’s why theres so many god damn photos of me at cafes … finally it makes sense.
QUICK BREAK. This is such a long post. I know i’m used to the 100 word Insta posts but this really feels so long. Congrats if you’ve got this far.
The three biggest challenges of working for myself, whilst tying to write a book.
- Absolutely no one is ever going to make you do anything. Getting out of bed can be so hard. Especially when deep down you know if you slept until 11am, there would be no real consequences.
- I have had some truly terrible bosses over my life time, but I can honestly say – I AM THE WORST BOSS I HAVE EVER HAD. I am so fucking mean. Every time I don’t write for long enough or don’t get out of bed at the right time, I harass myself. This voice is very engrained, and very hard to control.
- You are mostly alone. This has been the hardest part for me. I have felt so lonely.
I wrote an IG post yesterday about the exhausting power of choice. As a writer who does not have a contract, we always have to make choices to write. No one is making us. We have to choose Every Single Day to follow our dreams and write. The choice to write everyday is hard for me, and combining this with the self motivation it takes to run your own business has been a next level challenge.
For several months, (before I sought some help) the typical day for me would be waking up, working out, and then doing my work for the day. That would take me up to about 1pm. Now it was time to write. I would sit down, write a bit, an hour would pass. I would get distracted. Turn on the TV. Realise I haven’t spoken to anyone all day. Then realise that I’m watching a third episode of the Gilmore girls. CUE anger and upset at myself for not writing for long enough, but getting too upset to actually do anything constructive, so I cry and continue watching tv, because everything else is too hard, and no one is there to stop me.
I had my better days too, cafe writing is extremely wonderful and in all honestly this year has allowed me to write my story and get it to its fourth draft, (I am SO lucky in so many ways) but it has also been the cause of a lot of anxiety and loneliness, and so I’ve got new things on the cards coming up in the next few weeks! But in reality, no matter how many jobs I get, as I said at the start, my real job is writing. It’s my profession and my passion and I am endlessly thankful for it.
This post seems a little depressing, but I think it really outlines how hard it is for people of creative hearts to find jobs that work for them. We do not fit into conventional jobs.
We often do not do well working 9-5 at desks, and we might not do well working all alone at home either. It is hard when the thing that sets us alight with happiness does not let us pay the bills. I think that is why I am telling you this story in such detail. For a creative soul to find work that is bearable and that pays the rent is HUGELY challenging and it is something that we should all talk about together. Because I needed support this year, and I most certainly found it in this community of authors, and so I offer support back to you all, if this is something that you are struggling with right now.