Why are you Writing Today?

Today’s thought-provoking guest post is from the lovely Rachael Judd. To learn more about her, read my Seven Questions with her.

Have you ever looked at the project in front of you and it just stares back blankly? Eventually the staring ends as you decide to browse Twitter or jump on Tumblr for just a few minutes.  Hours, days or weeks later the project is still lingering, incomplete.

It’s easy to slack off and “forget” to write or “not have time” to write if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.
~WOW! Women On Writing Blog: Goal Setting for Writers


As I was surfing my Twitter this week I ran across this quote above. It came from a blog talking about setting goals for your blogging, but I think this last line takes it much further than goal setting.

Asked simply:  Why are you writing today?

In some professions the answer to WHY is quite simple. For a freelance writer, this question is much harder to answer.

Over the past several months I have been asking myself this very question. I started freelancing “on the side”, as many of us do, for some extra cash.  During that time I started my own blog as a chance to write about something I was really passionate about.  Then, freelancing became my “career”, blogging happens when I have energy and something about writing has changed.

I truly enjoy the flexibility of working for myself and I find the challenges of self employment to be minimal.  However, recently I have noticed something missing. As writing has emerged into a career I have seen it go from fun and exciting to difficult and overwhelming, the spark is gone.

Previously, the question “Why are you writing today?” was answered with “This is something I’m passionate about.”  Recently I’ve been answering that question with “I have the capability, time, energy and connections to make an income at it.” And that is where I am now.

Asking a new question. Can passion and income really intersect?

YES! Freelancing is a choice and a risk.  One of the reasons to make the choice and take the risk is to watch your passion and your income intersect.

However, to make this work the scales have to be balanced.

Too much passion usually means a lot of fun but very little income.  Taking on too many income opportunities may mean a full bank roll but very little enjoyment in the process.

Challenge: Make a change.

If you want to be a freelance writer for a career, stop and take a look at your scale. Do you have too much weight on one side? Are you loving each project but eating Ramen every day?  Are you enjoying Starbucks multiple times a day but dreading sitting at your computer?

At different points in the freelancing process sacrifices have to be made in favor of one side or the other for practical reasons, but before freelancing changes from passion to prison make sure you take full assessment of each step along the way.

To tip my scale back into balance I need to say no to a few paying projects that aren’t a “must” to my pocket book and say yes to some passion projects.  For me, a passion project includes some magazine submissions where I just haven’t pulled the trigger. It’s a risk since there is no guaranteed acceptance which also means no guaranteed pay. BUT, the payoff is the satisfaction of sitting at my laptop and feeling joy with every word that is labored over.

For now, that is enough to keep my career afloat and hopefully get me back on the write path!

Why are you writing today?

Seven Questions with your Favorite Blogger/Writer: Rachael Judd

I’ve always been curious about what inspires my favorite writers. Whether they are bloggers, freelancers, scriptwriters, TV writers or novelists, they have to draw inspiration from something.  I want to thank all of you who contributed your questions and I hope you enjoy the first of my new monthly Q&A series.  Look for this new feature on the first Thursday of every month. If you want to see your favorite blogger/writer interviewed, contact me.

Name: Rachael Judd

Profession: Copywriter, Blogger

Blog: http://mumblingmidnightmom.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @RachaelJudd

Her impact on me: Rachael has been one of my biggest supporters since we connected through Center Square Journal. She’s a frequently comments on this blog and is a talented writer.

Person of Letters: Why did you start writing/blogging? Was it for personal or for professional reasons?

Rachael Judd: I started writing for personal reasons, like most 20-somethings, I wrote for extra money.  City life, while exciting, was expensive.  With a college focus on English, writing was a logical way to use my skills.  I started taking freelancing seriously as a job possibility in 2008.  What was extra fun money now provides a part time income to help support our family.  Freelancing also inspired personal ideas and I took the the blogosphere in 2010 which has been a slow, but amazing, personal growth experience

POL: How long do you think about what you are going to write before you write?

RJ: It depends on the project.  Most projects have deadlines so you are limited to how much time you have to think things through.  My preferred time though is about a week of brainstorming.  It is great to talk to a client, get to know them and then begin to think through their business, their needs and their style.  While brainstorming a project or even a personal blog idea, you will find that the more time you have to think it through the more you can see the company/business/organization in every day life affecting you or someone you know.

POL: Is there something you carry with you at all times to write ideas that may pop in your head? If so, what is its? A notebook, your smartphone, a scrap of paper?

RJ: Notebooks – plural!  I am a disorganized thought collector to say the least.  I have a notebook in my purse (that is also a daytimer), a personal journal and I have a notebook at my desk.  Wherever I am I grab the closest item and jot down notes.  At the end of the week I collect these all electronically.

POL: How do you battle writers block?

RJ: Grabbing my personal journal and just letting it all out the old fashioned way – paper and pen!  It has been discussed here (http://personofletters.com/2011/09/01/whens-the-last-time-you-handwrote-something/) but I find sitting down to hand write whatever is on my mind helps clear the air.

I find that writers block isn’t generally a lack of ideas, but just the opposite.  I have the hardest time focusing on a single project or subject when there are too many ideas floating around.  Taking to my personal journal lets me put everything on paper,  personal and professional.  It clears the way for focus on the task at hand.

POL: What is your favorite book/blog? Do you draw inspiration from it?

RJ: This is a hard question! I am overwhelmingly inspired by writers who wear their heart on their sleeve.  But I find that writing, new via blogs or old via the classics, boils down to our relationships.  As a freelancer I want companies to connect with clients and as a blogger I want to encourage others in their every day life relationships.

That being said I am most inspired to write by Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility to be exact!).  Austen was a women who could translate life’s relationships in regards to work, love and even spirituality into comical, serious and inspiring words that ring true even now.

POL: Along the same lines of the previous question, which writers from the past have inspired you? (more points for naming obscure writers)

RJ: As I mentioned, writers of old are my greatest inspiration!  Here are a few to consider:

Herman Hesse: The Glass Bead Game (Das Glasperlenspiel) is a MUST READ for anyone that wants to understand the use of  metaphor intertwined on multiple levels. This book is a challenge.

Madeline L’Engle: Her fiction is world renowned, but her non-fiction is inspiring, check out Two Part Invention. Most authors are not what they appear.

Henri Nouwen:  A priest. A writer.  A sociologist.  A person of questions. Although Henri Nouwen is a spiritual guru to most, he still has more questions than answers like most of us.  Check out the Genese Diary.

Amy Tan: Writing fiction from our own history can run its course OR it can inspire a generation of people to look at life differently.  Skip the Joy Luck Club and get experimental with her novel Saving Fish From Drowning

POL: Tell us something about you and your writing that we might not know.

RJ: Although I make a living as a copywriter, I am most passionate about blogging and using my story to inspire others to positive action.  This is still a work in progress but right now one of my driving goals to keep writing. Hopefully my writing, whatever the platform, invokes in people a sense of self that is valuable, unique and needed in the world we live in.