Sometimes the transition isn’t in the type of writing we want to do, but in our writing goals, current and/ or long term. We may experience a period where other things or people take priority over our writing. Perhaps we realize we no longer want to write full-time. We may prefer to spend time pursuing another career, or with family and friends, or travelling, living without deadline stress, or simply experiencing life and translating those experiences into story on our own terms and schedule.
That kind of change has its own confusion and angst. At first we wonder what’s happened. We may actually accuse ourselves of being lazy. We ask, “Is it burnout? Fear of success or fear of failure? How can it be possible the dream of supporting ourselves full-time no longer feels like a dream but a trap? How can we feel so dissatisfied when we’re living the life we fought so hard to achieve, a life so many dream of obtaining and sacrifice to reach, a life we may have fought and struggled and sacrificed to obtain? How can we admit to our fellow published writers, including NINC members, that we aren’t sure we want to continue with that dream? How can we admit it to the loved ones who support us in that dream and lifestyle, and may have made sacrifices of their own for us?
There is nothing wrong or unusual with dreams and goals changing as we gather more life experiences.
There is no correct way to be a writer or create a career in writing. Yet it can take courage to admit we’ve changed how we feel concerning something about which we once felt so passionate.
Change can happen in the other direction, of course. Maybe we’ve decided to take the plunge from working part-time as a writer to becoming a full-time writer. (Yes, part-time writers often work as full-time writers while committed to another part-time or full-time job.) That change has its own worries. What if we can’t meet the bills on a full-time writing income? How will our loved ones react to our decision? Sometimes that’s the scariest aspect of all—admitting to others we want to make a change, are making a change or have made a change.
I was married and had worked full-time in accounting for years when I made the decision to go part-time at the accounting firm to pursue my writing. When I told my dad, his jaw literally dropped. He thought my decision stupid and irresponsible. Later he was extremely and publicly proud of me as a published writer. If you are in this transition place, remember—your current critics may well later be among your greatest supporters, and indeed, may boast to have supported you all along.
All change, all transition, takes courage. The most important aspect of making a change in your career, is that the decision is based on what you want and on what you believe is the best choice for you.
Change is hard and messy and confusing and takes lots of courage. Yet, as Amelia Earhart stated, “Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.” It seems anything but peaceful in the midst of change, but deep down there is a sense of peace if we truly believe we’ve made the right choice. Not making the change leaves us restless and unsatisfied with ourselves and our writing. Worse, not making the change causes us to lose trust in ourselves.
Grasping the courage to work through the change to the end brings another kind of peace, that of proving to ourselves we can trust the inner voice that urges change and our ability to follow where that voice leads.
If we started on a path of change and quit, we don’t need to leave the change abandoned. We can pick it up again and turn the abandonment into a rest stop.
Or maybe we’ve decided dropping that change is what we truly want next. Admitting that to ourselves and others can be as difficult as making any other change. It’s been difficult for me to admit when things I’ve extolled in this column in the past no longer work for me. Other times when I’ve encountered difficulty in changing aspects of my writing and my writing career I’ve looked back through my own columns to remind myself of what worked in the past. You might want to look back over your own career and life to remind yourself what’s worked for you.
NINC member Charlotte Hubbard spoke in her November 2010 NINC blog “Jump!” about the many changes she’s made in the type of stories she tells. “I find that because I’ve reinvented myself a few times to stay published, I have a little less angst about how things might shake out for my current writing career. Because I’ve said “YES” to switching audiences yet again this past year, I’ve landed a nice series contract for Amish books—and am working with an editor at another house on an Amish series proposal. Because I said “YES” (albeit kicking and screaming at first), I rescued my career by switching to Continued on page 20