I’ve been thinking a lot lately about growing an intentional business as a writer. I’ve come to a few conclusions that are now guiding the choices I make.
Original photo by Hope House Press – Leather Diary Studio
Before I get too far into it, I do want to mention that there are a few folks online who don’t like the idea of writers making money. A lot of them wind up in the comments section of YouTube videos. Many of them seek out writers on YouTube to tell them they shouldn’t be making money.
I’m not sure why these folks think writers exist outside of capitalism, but I guess if it needs to be stated, I’ll state it.
Writers don’t exist outside of capitalism. We have bills to pay too.Writers don't exist outside of capitalism. We have bills to pay too. Click To Tweet
And while there are many who would say we don’t need art or any of the creative things we use to entertain ourselves because society really needs engineers and computer programmers and doctors.
I would invite those people to go a whole week without watching any TV or movies, listening to any music, reading any books, or playing any games.
Congratulations! You are advocating for a life that literally no one wants.
Even if you don’t consume all the aforementioned media every day, you definitely can’t exist just by being a cog in the machine that continues to perpetuate this weird system we’ve created.
So, with that, I just want to say that writers deserve to be paid for their work, and if you are consuming something that was written, you have to pay for it, just the same way you would pay for stuff you consume from the grocery store.
I didn’t create the system, but I’ am choosing to thrive in it.
But what does thriving look like? Great question.
I’ve been on this solo entrepreneurship journey now for about a month, and I gotta say that I haven’t come up with any life shattering ideas.
I mostly feel like I’m grinding away, but in a good way.
Like, not the grind of a day job. But the grind of someone crafting something cool.
I’m basically a metaphorical metalworker, you guys.
Anyway, let’s talk about growing an intentional business as a writer.
Growing an Intentional Business as a Writer
001: Think about the choices you make.
At every day job I’ve ever had, there has been little to no choice in what I’ve done. The assignments would come down from above. And I do them, or get fired.
Now, I’m in control. So I actually get to think about what I do and how I approach the work I do.
This is incredibly freeing.
One of the things I’ve always hated about the jobs I’ve had has been that there are so many arbitrary things that get done because “that’s the way we do them.”
Not anymore, suckers.
This has enabled me to choose what I want to do and how I want to do things. So, I get to pick the freelance jobs I take and the clients I work with.
Nothing is on autopilot. I’m actively choosing what I do.
002: Making money isn’t enough.
So, because I’m actively choosing what I do, I don’t take jobs just because they will earn me money.
And this is a big change from all the day jobs I’ve ever had.
I’ve literally only ever worked for companies because they paid me. I never cared about what they did, or the mission of the company.
I was literally just working for the money.
(If this sounds weird to you, please know that the vast majority of people are only at the job they’re at for the money. Like, working somewhere because you believe in the company or love the work is not the norm.)
Now, I get to do the work I want to do. So, I don’t have to take jobs just because they pay well.
I get to pick stuff that I love.
This is a level of freedom I have never experienced before, and I love it.
003: Downtime is non-negotiable.
I’m in a weird phase of my life — a phase where I stop working after 5 PM.
I’m so used to waking up, going to work, and then working on my own stuff after work. My body doesn’t know what to do if there isn’t a 12-hour workday in front of me.
So, lately I’ve been working until about 2 or 3, and then taking some time to refill the proverbial well.
I’ve been reading or playing or spending time with others.
I’m even currently enrolled in a guitar class.
It’s been great for me because I’m not at a desk all day, and I actually get to spend time with my loved ones.
But making sure I have this downtime has been great and has made it much easier for me to work when I am working.
I don’t constantly feel burnt out, and it’s a new and glorious thing.Growing an Intentional Business as a Writer Click To Tweet
004: Not everything is going to get done.
I like stretch goals. I like pushing myself.
With that said, I know I can’t always hit my stretch goals in the amount of time I’m striving for.
And I’m okay with that.
Because I have discovered the joys of downtime, I know that I would rather hang out with friends and play Dungeons and Dragons than stay a few extra hours at my desk all week.
And because I’m giving myself this downtime and letting things go undone, the work feels easier.
Like, if any of you have a time machine,I’d love for you to go chat with Marisa of the past and let her know that it’s cool to stop working. Also, let her know that she’ll feel a lot better if she takes some time off.
I think the only reason I’m okay with not finishing stuff is because I know I have more time now than I did before. So, since a huge chunk of my week isn’t taken over by a day job, I know when there will be time in the near future to keep working.
005: What works for someone else probably won’t work for me.
I think it’s really easy to look at the trajectory of someone else’s career and assume that’s what you need to do.
But it’s also important to remember that other people made choices that you don’t know about. So, like, you can’t use their life as a template for when you need to hit milestones.
And by the same token, what worked for them in that very moment may not work for you because you’ll never in that moment.
So rather than take time parsing someone else’s life journey and trying to do something the same way they did, focus more on the big picture practices.
I like to look for traits that I believe will help me. Things like consistency, professionalism, networking — those are things that I know will help me get to where I’m going.
Instead of trying to do something that someone else has already done, I’m picking up the practices and habits of others, and that makes it a lot easier for me to integrate them into my life, rather than just trying to follow someone blindly.
006: I only have to play my game.
This is something that it took me way too long to figure it out, but I’m so glad I have.
If your blog has been consistently active for a few years, then you get all manner of inquiries in your inbox. People want to sponsor posts about health and fitness, or there’s one really persistent asshole who wants to guest post about engagement rings.
Do these posts make sense for my blog? Not in the slightest.
And, for a long time, I thought I needed those types of guest posts because they seemed like hallmarks for success. Just people throwing money at ya for no good reason.
But now, I’m here to just talk about writing and the writing life. Nothing more, nothing less.
I also don’t have to do the things that other folks who talk about writing online do.
Essentially, I’m in charge. And what I say goes.
What others are doing? Don’t even care. That ain’t my game.What others are doing? Don't even care. That ain't my game. Click To Tweet
To that end, taking my time and enrolling in courses like Publish with Purpose has enabled me to create products that mean something to me, and that have given me skills that will pay off time and time again.
How Did You Build Your Writing Business?
What choices did you make in order to elevate your writing biz? Is there something that really changed the game for you when you figured it out? How do you stay focused on your goals as a moneymakin’ writer?
I am worminf on rebuilding my writing business. You are spot-on with all of this. There are some good reminders here for sure.
Thanks so much, Jen! And good luck with rebuilding. With as active as you are, I know you’ll have no trouble at all!
I’ve copied all of your point headers to a word doc. I want to hang them on my wall! Great reminders. I just enrolled in Publish & Thrive with Sarra Cannon. So looking forward to her course. I, too, am learning about setting a time when I stop the day job and switch to something I love. When my husband is home, I spend a majority of my time with him watching our favorite shows or playing cards. That’s what we do but at the same time he understand when I say I need to dump some words, he heads to his mancave. . Thanks to Jen’s tweet for bringing me here! Enjoy the Journey!
Thanks so much, Angela! And I’ll see you around in Publish and Thrive — I’m enrolled this time around too!