It might seem like a backwards idea, adding more to your writer's plate to find some rest. But, if you've ever experienced the feeling of creating your own written work, without worrying--at least for the time being--about making it perfect, you know that there's really nothing quite like it. If I could boil the feeling down to just one word, I'd say it's an awful lot like freedom.
Of course, everything we write is "our own." Whether you're a journalist, an author or a columnist, you get your own quotes, do your own research and create your own collage of paragraphs that, hopefully, result in a story that moves people to either laugh or cry. But as much as those stories and articles are "your own," there is a part of them that is, arguably, not.
Whether we as writers admit it or not, we are all slaves to deadlines. We are servants to our publications and publishers, and will bow to their wiser judgement on matters of sentence structure changes, lead adjustments and grammar corrections. We as writers, no matter how much we adore our bosses, live in fear of the "red pen," as it were. We are always excited to write these stories we call "our own," but there's a sense of anxiety that will always follow hitting the "Send" or "Share " button. Editors are there for a reason, and they have earned the right to be in those correcting seats. They know what they're talking about.
And though we'd never quit writing just because of a few minutes of fear or a day or two here and there of deadline-induced stress (because let's be honest, those things come with the job), there's something to be said about finding an escape from it all every once in a while. There's something undoubtedly valuable in you writing just for you. Edits and deadlines are part of the deal we made when we all decided to become writers, but no one said they had to be our whole life.
When you're on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and you spend a few minutes every day (or every hour) thinking of the perfect witty subtitle, you have to admit it's nice. No one is going to edit that text and say it should be "refined," "rethought," or "reevaluated." People just enjoy your post for the innocent banter it is, and then they move on. It's freeing, right?
I have eight writing jobs, all focused on subjects I absolutely adore--movies, art, food, community, culture, travel--and most people would find the things I write about to be relatively light-hearted and uplifting (at least for the most part). But everyday, I still get stressed and tired and worn out. I can't imagine the mess I'd be if I had to write about subjects I hated. But still, every now and then, I need a reminder for myself that I can punch out a damn good blurb on the first try, or that I'm creative enough to think of fictitious stories no other writer has thought of...yet.
When you spend your days writing with deadlines, no matter how flexible or strict, it can be easy to forget that you're not writing for the deadline.
It might seem counterproductive. After all, why would a filmmaker watch movies in their free time? Or why would a professional artist take up splatter painting to relax? Wouldn't it be better to find an escape that has absolutely nothing to do with your everyday job? No. Because, while I know it's been a while, you have to remember--there's a reason you chose to make a living doing what you're doing. You love it.
I can't speak for those in the business or medical field, but those of us in the arts don't make much money and we didn't get into this field because we plan to be living in Beverly Hills someday. We have a passion (pardon the cliche) for what we do and taking a couple seconds of the day to remind ourselves of that is worth a thousand copies of whatever we end up writing for work in the future.
My blog and short stories keep me sane because the only person I write them for is me. They are my saving grace because they remind me of why I love to write. And, believe it or not, it gives me a chance to miss my editors' guidance. Because I'll never stop needing it.
I'm not a counselor, but as a writer, I advise all my fellow creatives to start your own personal project. Start your own list of short stories, create a blog, start a script, just for the hell of it. Don't worry about deadlines, but have the goal to indulge yourself everyday in writing about something that is truly all your own. So that, on the days you want to take a large bagel knife to your laptop screen, you think about your personal project and remember the reason you sold your time and soul to this profession in the first place.
Why else am I writing a blog post on a Tuesday? You all can live without my two cents, but I can't live without the option to share it.