by J.M. Phillippe
Like many other writers, I have a day job. I am a social worker and have spent the last four years working in child welfare. While this can be a very rewarding field to work in, it is also a very draining field to work in. Self-care is a constant challenge due to the demands of the job. When you rarely get time for lunch, it is even harder to make time for writing -- which has not been good for me, or my publishing schedule.
It's not just the hours, which are long, or the paperwork, which even the most prolific of writers would find daunting to keep up with -- it's that the constant stress leaves you so little mental energy to dig into character and conflict. Writing is work, of course, but it began to feel like more work than it ever had before.
Every writer, regardless of their outside life, struggles to fit writing into that life. Writing is a very time consuming enterprise, and much of that time is spent away from other people, and away from the maintenance of every day living. It's hard to write and do dishes at the same time (though so easy to get dishes done when you are avoiding a particularly challenging writing session). Time spent writing is time AWAY. You have to have the time to spare (or the ability to create it). I was running out of away time to dedicate to writing (or laundry, which was piling up on the regular). Something had to give.
So I sought out and found a new job at a mental health clinic -- I will now be working as a therapist full time. What I am hoping this means is that I will have more time -- and energy -- for writing.
And yet, change is hard. Change makes people very uncomfortable. (As someone who helps people change their lives for a living, I can attest that most people find it at best, a frustrating experience). So even though I'm very excited for this change, I am also nervous. What if this doesn't work out the way I hope it will? What if I start to feel burned out again? What if I don't make time for writing in this new schedule?
Change comes with risk -- it invites the unknown into your life. It leaves variables on the table that only time and experience can solve. And at this point, I'm still not sure what X will turn out to be.
It feels very much like sitting down to write a new story with only a vague outline in mind, and no real idea how it's going to end. So you'd think I'd be used to this feeling, used to facing down the unknown. The very act of writing is the act of embracing change over and over, solving for x time and time again. Writing is meant to be uncomfortable and challenging, or else it wouldn't also be rewarding. Change, like writing, is hard every single time. It also is the only way that something new, and potentially amazing, can happen.
Here's to opening the door and inviting in the amazing!