What Keeps Me From Writing?

This post is part of Reverb10, a project that provides daily prompts in the month of December to help you reflect on the past year and set your intentions for the year ahead. I responded to yesterday’s prompt via Twitter… today’s response is below.

Today’s prompt:
What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

I work on client projects. I work on things that do not stir my soul, that do not get me out of bed in the morning. I work on other people’s projects, selling my past experience as though it happened to someone else, as though it’s a shiny object stacked on warehouse shelves. “Worked at PBS”: aisle 3. Fill your basket with “managed a journalistic collaboration.” “Edited a blog”: buy 1, get 1 free!

Don’t get me wrong: My clients are nonprofits and cultural institutions, organizations a girl can feel good working for. But I don’t feel good. Not by a long shot.

I’ve got the act down pat. It’s a role I was born to play: charming, people-pleasing. Win them over with humor, sign the contract, get the work. Boot ‘er up and start typing, clicking, communicating. Another day, down the drain.

Do I sound melodramatic? Of course I do.

I’m an artist, and I’m not making any goddamn art.

The work is fine. It’s work. I need a paycheck. And I’m proud of my accomplishments – they just don’t feel like who I am. They aren’t connected to the parts of me I value most.

The parts I value most are:

  • Artist
  • Healer
  • Teacher/Student
  • Wife, friend, daughter

“Artist,” as in, writer and improviser (or, more broadly, ‘comedic actress’). “Healer and teacher” as in – someone who helps people connect with their best selves; yoga teacher in training (aka yoga student). The rest are self-explanatory.

How do these puzzle pieces fit together? I don’t know. But I’m hitting that point I’ve hit once or twice before where the status quo feels so inauthentic that I make a major change.

The prospect of change is exciting, but my head is full of question marks, and they look a whole lot like dollar signs.


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7 thoughts on “What Keeps Me From Writing?

  1. Thanks, Emma! As far as getting to know my artist self…I read The Artist's Way a few years ago and it changed my life. Have you read it? It's what prompted my shift to freelance – to give me more time and energy for improv, writing and yoga. But I feel like I've outgrown that arrangement. I'm greedy for MORE…I think I'm realizing I need to put my art at the center of my life, and I think that realization terrifies me.

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  2. Thanks Beth. It's hard to insist upon spending your life in a way that stirs your soul, without feeling pampered and indulgent. But for me it comes back to the simple fact that the happier I am, the better I am for other people. When I'm doing my soul's work, I touch other people more…

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  3. I love this post! I'm sure it resonates with most creative people who are not fortunate enough to make their living following their heart.I totally get the question marks and the dollar signs. That's the funny part about making money – once you can pay the bills, it is hard to go back to not being able to do so.

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