“I wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t say this…The reality is we’re lazy.”
A weekend girl chat turned into a therapy and truth-telling session. The “we” was our group of friend who talked until we were blue in the face about aspirations outside of our careers. For me, the action was either fluctuating or stalled altogether.
As a writer, I’m often deciding what ideas to pitch to editors for publication and what to keep for yourself as content on my own platforms. Until that conversation, that really meant what was worthy of being PAID to write and what was worthy of writing for FREE. I told my friend about my conundrum, and even further, that my pitches were being rejected left and right. She suggested that I wasn’t writing because the only way I would write is if I would be paid for it. I felt seen.
It’s not the first time I’ve been called out.
When I decided to get back into writing after personal issues. I reached out to my mentor about freelance opportunities. “I hear you, but it sounds like you’re chasing checks and stability and not the work you want to do. It’s a fine line, I know.”
Ouch. It only stung because she was right. In that moment, I couldn’t care less about the “art,” but more about the check. It wasn’t about being burned by a major publication for being paid for my work, it was me looking for an easy way out, or in this case, in.
Before I was published in any major publication, I would write for myself and anyone just because. Eventually “for exposure” became $25 then a few hundred to thousands. After so many years of grinding, I got used to being paid well, easily.
I didn’t want to start over. I felt like I had paid my dues, and there was no way that I would go back to writing for pennies. Why write for myself when the content could be pitched and paid for?
I had to accept, though, that when you’re out of the game for an extended period of time for whatever reason, when you reenter, you may have to take a few steps back to move forward. If you do the work, perhaps, the back steps will be temporary. Similar to a music artist returning to the industry after a long hiatus, you have to play intimate locations when you used to sell out arenas. Simply put, my ego was showing, and it was going to keep me from doing what I do–experiencing freedom through writing.
I know that, from experience, when you work consistently and from the heart, the opportunities and the money will come. It’s both gratifying and inspiring to yourself, as well as others.
Whatever you used to do, don’t be afraid to start over if it’s what you love. You’re never too big, too important or too accomplished to re-access the market and rebuild (for the right reasons). Only pure intentions are truly rewarded.
Even after you can pay your dues, you never stop making deposits through your work.