Saturday, March 3, 2012

Falling In and Out of Love

Writing is not my best friend today. It was yesterday, my source of comfort and joy, passion and fulfillment. Today, it represents only pain and frustration, and as I scramble to get it back to good, I am forced to reevaluate our relationship and look at exactly where we stand.

An inevitable part of writing is hitting roadblocks. Lack of inspiration. Particularly harsh criticism. Self-doubt.

The key is to push through those roadblocks and continue on this bumpy journey, never giving in and never giving up.

This week, I hit a roadblock. This week, I wanted to give up.

Part of freelancing, I'm learning, is writing on topics I'm not particularly interested in. I'm given an assignment, and I write on that assignment, regardless of my feelings on the subject. I always want to connect with my subjects, but it's unrealistic to expect that I will be passionate about everything I write.

Until recently, I had that expectation.

When I'm passionate about something, my writing improves exponentially. This is probably no big surprise to anyone and may be true for most everyone, but it's true for me just the same.

I am a machine fueled by passion and love and feelings so strong that sometimes my heart just can't contain them all. So those feelings spill freely and uncensored from my fingertips, splashing onto the page like impossibly bright drops of paint, filling that blank canvas with ideas and characters and just the right words.

When my passion is on empty, the machine slows, choking and sputtering and tripping on every word.

This leaves me at a crossroads. To live the dream and get paid to write, I'll inevitably have to write on subjects of little interest to me.

Source: via Jenna on Pinterest

My husband says to write on those subjects I'll need to apply everything I know about writing, everything I've learned over the years and write from my head instead of my heart. For these assignments, I'll need to look at writing as more of a science instead of an art. I'm not a particularly methodical kind of writer. I feel the words, and I write them.

I don't outline.

I don't brainstorm.

I just write. Just writing has been the only thing I know and understand.

But now, at this crossroads, at this point of looking at writing as more of a profession and less of a hobby, I have to change gears. In order to produce the best work possible, I need to learn a whole slew of new skills.

How to interview. How to ask the right questions, get the right answers. How to inspire my contacts to give me the best quotes possible.

How to work with someone else's words. How to insert those words seamlessly into my own words and make the entire piece flow like water.

How to brainstorm. How to outline. How to draft. How to read an editor's mind and know exactly what they need from an assignment. How to give them what they need.

Relationships change. That's just part of life, I guess. But do I want my relationship with writing to change?

When I first met Jeremy, I tried to talk him into going to culinary school. He loved to cook, so my natural assumption was that he would also love to cook for a living. But he balked at that idea, citing the fact that he didn't want to make cooking into work. It was a passion for him, something he loved to do, and he didn't want the stigma that comes with "working" to change that passion.

At the time, I didn't understand. If you could do something you loved for a living, why wouldn't you? It seemed simple to me.

Today, I understand him and his reasons a little better. Today, my passion has changed.

Can I separate the two sides of myself that have a relationship with writing? Can I keep my passion and keep my work?

As a child, I loved the beach. I wanted to move to the coast and live there forever. When I voiced this dream, my parents always said, "Katie, if you lived there all the time, just like anything else, you'd get tired of it. It wouldn't be as special."

And I guess that's just it. I don't want writing to become living at the beach. - This job is the perfect stepping stone towards not fulfilling my dreams

Author's Note: I want to be clear that I'm happy about having the opportunity to write for pay. After a bad week with freelancing, I'm just taking a moment to look at what that means for me and how that may change my relationship with writing. 

How do you feel about mixing work and play? Would freelance writing change the way you feel about creative writing?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...