2021 has been a year of incredible change for me. I left a job I’d been at for 15 years. I pivoted into an entirely new career, one where I am now either writing professionally or working alongside talented writers.
It’s been a bit surreal at times. I’ve met an incredible new group of people who’ve provided support and encouragement. I’ve written guest posts for blogs before, but this is the first time I’ve been paid as a writer. I’ve also experienced the thrill of seeing my byline in print.
Outside of these professional accomplishments, I’ve gotten into a daily habit of writing. I wake up very early, make coffee, light a candle or incense, and write. I look forward to the solitude — it’s not only time for writing but also a much-coveted “me time.”
Yet as proud as I am for creating and maintaining this habit throughout the year, I also face a significant challenge: I do so much professional writing now that my personal projects often fall by the wayside.
When I say “professional” I’m not only talking about writing for pay. It started that way: I spent 8 months in 2021 as a content marketer, so I was writing for clients every day. I realized quickly that content marketing was not for me and moved into a sales role (at a different content marketing agency). Now my paid endeavors are limited to writing for a magazine on retainer and a few freelance clients that I’ve chosen to maintain. Between these, I’m usually writing about one article per week.
Most of the quasi-professional writing I do now is tied to my long-term goals. I’d like to publish a book someday. It would help to have an established persona. Yes, I’m referring to personal brand, much as many writers may loathe the phrase.
I tweet regularly, I write on Medium, I started a newsletter. I research publications that will accept guest posts and send pitches, to increase my visibility and list of bylined work. I am active on LinkedIn, where engagement helps my career in sales at a marketing agency and also builds a network. Moving into the marketing side of writing has helped because I can observe others and learn how to “market myself.”
I know that building an audience of people who appreciate my writing will take time. So it’s worth it to me to put in the effort now — and I’ve started to see results from this work.
But all of this takes time, and it takes away from… writing.
My husband knows I have a book planned. He will occasionally ask about my progress. I usually have to reply, “I haven’t had much time to work on it.” Between the freelance work, my efforts on various platforms, my full-time job in sales… and raising three kids… it feels like there are not enough hours in the day. Plus I like sleep: that’s not something I’m willing to give up.
I’ve been pondering how I can create a new habit and fit this much-needed personal writing time into my day in 2022. Maybe I’ll set a goal for 30 minutes per day. Maybe it should be 500 words per day. I know with certainty that I only write well in the morning so I have to squeeze that into my early morning time… which means squeezing all of the above efforts into a different part of the day.
I keep telling myself that I can figure this out… planning to spend January removing this roadblock to my personal writing goals. I can experiment with different changes to my daily schedule and figure out what works for me. Hoping to look back at the end of next year and be able to say, “Yes, I figured this out.”
Cheers to 2022.