For the last few days, I’ve been contemplating my career and where I want it to go. As a writer, there are many avenues available to you — provided you are willing to do the work and learn that particular part of the craft. In my almost 20 years in this biz, I’ve tried my hand at fiction, journalism, article writing, column writing, copywriting, general writing (business plans, marketing plans, grants, white papers, etc.), content mills and web writing. In other words, I’ve pretty much been there, done that.
Except for plays, movies and television scripts. But it’s on my list.
I’ve published a book, I’ve written an award-winning column and I’ve written things that brought me praise and criticism galore. I’ve written some things that make me cringe, and I’ve written things of which I am extremely proud. I have enjoyed almost every minute of my writing career.
But now I feel as if I’m at a crossroads. I love writing for a living, I really do…
But I don’t want to do it anymore. At least not how I’ve been doing it recently.
A friend gave me The Renegade Writer as a gift this past Christmas. I’m not a huge fan of how-to or self-help books — I’m a firm believer that the only way to learn to do something is by doing it. No book can replace the knowledge you gain from the “Nike” approach. The book has been sitting on the corner of my desk since the day I unwrapped it — but for some reason I picked it up and starting thumbing through it yesterday.
In each chapter, there are sections called “Break this rule.” I started reading those because, well, I am a rule-breaker.
It turns out that a lot of what they advise I’ve been doing instinctively for years.
Now, you’d think this would make me feel better. Make me feel like I’ve been on the right path.
Nope. It really made me sick to my stomach.
Cuz, the last few years, I’ve been ignoring my instincts in exchange for making a decent living. And now I wonder — if I had stuck to my path all those years ago, where would I be now? Would my byline be in Forbes, or Women’s Day or Inc.? It’s not even about the bragging rights — it just made me realize that as a writer, I could be so much further along than I am, and it’s hurts like hell that I’m the reason I’m not where I could be.
But that all changes tomorrow. I’ve still got a couple of steady clients that keep food on the table and a roof over my head, but I’m done chasing after more of their ilk. If I’m going to do this, I either need to go big or get the hell out of the game. The publication studying and query writing starts tomorrow. My goal is to make it into a National magazine before the end of the year, if not sooner.
I’m going for the big time, folks. Wish me luck.