A few years ago, maybe it was 2014 or even further back, I decided to follow my dream of becoming a writer. I wanted to pen novels, articles, and things that people read – pieces that made a difference. Now, however, I have come to question those choices as I try to find my place in the world.
It’s only been a few days since I turned the non-magical age of 31. And while this may still seem like it’s young – there are establishments that consider it to be part of the ‘youth’ group – it’s not really. When you look at the numbers of 31, it means that I have been alive for over 11 315 days. That’s a long time. And it’s an even longer time to not know what the hell I’m actually doing.
Yea, some of you reading this may say that it’s perfectly fine not know what you want to do. To an extent, I agree. I once heard a phrase that goes “the most interesting people in life are those who don’t know what they want to do“. I cannot remember where or when I heard it, but I can say that it is a romantic notion. One that fills me with hope and dreams, until reality hits.
An existential crisis can hit at any point in time. It doesn’t have to be a mid-life crisis. Hell, I hope I’m having at least a third-life crisis right now.
Is the writing on the wall or in the Google Doc?
I started writing in high school. My mind can be a little foggy at times, but I think it was after I read a copy of Stephen King’s The Shining. I thought to myself “hey, I can do this,” and sat down at my PC to write something. That evening I’d bashed out my very first draft of Child of the Dead. It was and still is a very simple story that’s not more than a page in length. Even so, I was proud of it. I showed it to a few people and in my pride and youth, shot down those who wanted to offer advice. I’d go on to realise how stupid this was of any writer.
Skip ahead a few years and I’d penned a few more stories, though ones I dare not show today. Those were good times. There were times when I wrote for myself without any briefs, without any deadlines and sure as hell, not for anyone else. My imagination could run wild with delight about the origins of the Grim Reaper or some kids who were being attacked in a movie theatre. There was nothing about startups, finance, or 7 reasons you need to buy this product. Those were simpler, better times, I think.
And here we are over a decade later. I’m now employed full-time as a writer with a few gigs on the side (hey, everyone needs a side-hustle, right?). I’ve been writing for a few years and made the jump from journalism to copywriting. A few people (namely my ex-boss) turned their heads at the move, but to me, writing is writing. I was never married to journalism, but we were just fooling around and I did enjoy it.
This change in career has left me with little time to do much else. Sitting in traffic, late nights and stress have all stopped me from writing the things I really love. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the jobs and have worked with some amazing people, but that’s neither here nor there. This piece isn’t actually about work per say, but rather what it involves.
Even though I’m doing what I love and achieved a goal I set out to accomplish, I now question myself.
I have the skills but not the drive
So now I come to the heart of my story. The thing that’s been tripping me up for a while now.
My past few jobs have taught me some excellent writing skills. These have included, but are not limited to, writing fast, the ability to edit work, and how to structure a piece. Of course, none of these is being used for the very article you’re reading right now.
And while all of those skills are extremely useful and fantastic, I just don’t have the drive to put them to any good use for myself. What I mean is, I don’t have the ability to write fiction anymore. I’m not sure how true or concrete that statement is, but right now that’s the way I feel and that’s what I know.
Now, my crisis comes into play. You see, I just don’t have any time to sit down and write a fantastical piece. When I get home I eat supper, watch YouTube, maybe play a game, and then sleep. On the weekends I’ll mostly just sleep in order to recover from the long drives to and from work. “But why not stop sitting in front of the TV?” I hear a few of you ask. Well, I don’t have the energy not to. Even just watching YouTube is difficult at the best of times. Sometimes, I just sleep instead of watching anything at all.
After a day of writing non-fiction work and sometimes continuing that process at night, my brain can’t cope with any more stories. And as I get older, I tend to become more tired, which leads to a cycle or work, sleep, work, sleep. It is difficult.
Where do we go now?
Right now, I don’t know at all. By writing this piece, I am hoping that something actually sparks inside of me. Though, I have been pro-active in my writing in that I started up a food website and one dedicated to my backlog of media.
As for writing fiction, well that’s a different story altogether (pun intended, I think). I don’t have a single story thought in my head, no matter how hard I try to push one out. Even sitting in front of a blank page, which is something that used to show me endless possibilities, now only gives me the middle finger.
All I can say is that writing as your day job and then writing for fun is fucking difficult. I don’t know how others do it, but I’m struggling.