Choosing to Change Course Doesn’t Mean I Failed… Right?

<— This brilliant illustration perfectly conveys exactly how I’ve been feeling these past couple of months.

I posted about my depression / career-related identity crisis just last week, and am still struggling to scramble my way out of that hole.

Yesterday, I took my laptop to my favorite local cafe and tried to co-work with an old, high school friend of mine. But aside from pinpointing some possible markets for an essay I’d been working on, I couldn’t bring myself to do much else. I just kept sipping my raspberry-flavored Italian soda, staring at my laptop screen, and zoning out.

Then, this morning, I read a piece by Marian Schembari, about prioritizing your real life over your online life. It made me think of another post I’d recently written, about asking yourself: What are you willing not to achieve?

When you’ve been hustling like hell for a really long time, things tend to fall by the wayside. Sometimes, the things that drop to the bottom of your to-do list are your unpaid passion projects, the goals that nourish you, the dreams you really should prioritize. But sometimes, in seeing what you choose to let go — things that perhaps you conceived of as a means of growing your business — you start to realize what’s really most important to you.

Letting go can feel terrifying. PEOPLE ARE COUNTING ON ME! you might tell yourself, though perhaps you’ve forgotten why you started doing something in the first place. IF I STOP, PEOPLE WILL THINK I’M A FAILURE!

Not true. Shut up. You’re being crazypants.

I’ve let go of quite a few things lately. My 5 Weeks to Freelance Awesome ebook and my Word Nerd Networking plans have been backburnered. My Freelancedom posts have become more sporadic. It’s September 6, and I still haven’t given a single thought to my September issue of Word Nerd News. I’ve been ghostwriting a book and ghost-tweeting for a client, but I’ve been sleepwalking through both projects, mostly because my mind’s been distracted by: What next? What am I working toward? What am I supposed to be doing!?

As Peter Shallard put forth to me last week: What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail, and how would I monetize it?

I know what I no longer want to do. I don’t want to hold someone’s hand through a book-length project if my name isn’t going to appear on the cover. I don’t want to write the same How to Raise Your Libido article over and over and over again. I don’t want to write a blog and a newsletter containing service-y information you could probably get somewhere else. I don’t want to sleepwalk my way through my work, and I don’t want to dread it.

So right now, I’m dabbling. Experimenting. I’m workshopping personal essays with my fabulous writing partner.  I’m researching new markets using mediabistro’s series on personal essay markets, and Poets & Writers’ lit mag database (searchable by genre). And because this type of writing doesn’t typically bring in the big bucks, I’m also pinpointing companies I love and admire, brainstorming ways in which I could contribute to their mission with the skills I have. And then I’m drawing up targeted proposals and pitching them.

I don’t know what will come of this. I don’t know if I’ll scrap it all and start over again.

But I want to work. I don’t “want it all,” per se, but I want to work, and I want my work to be meaningful.

As for this blog and my newsletter, I want those to work, too. But I want them to give you something you can’t get anywhere else, and I want them to be all me. (Well… perhaps the more uplifting, less depressing version of me.)

So pretty, pretty please tell me, in the comments below:

What do you want to see here, and in Word Nerd News? What do you want to hear more about? What questions do you want me to answer? What part of the freelance life do you want revealed?

Because while I might joke to my husband about quitting it all and going full-time housewife, I’m not going anywhere.

Related: How to Let Go of Having It All, Why I Don’t Want to Have It All


  1. Yahoo! Good for you.

  2. First, let me just say that of all the writing/freelancing blogs and newsletters I’m subscribed to, yours is the one I never, ever skip. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your honesty, your willingness to bare your soul, and above all your acknowledgement that you don’t have all the answers. When I’m having a full-fledged, freak-out, ohmygod-what-the-hell-was-I-thinking?-I-can’t-make-a-living-as-a-writer! day, I head straight to your blog because you remind me that it’s Not True. Shut up. You’re being crazypants. Which is exactly what I need to hear.

    I would love to see you keep chronicling your career progress. It’s so valuable to have a sincere, non-sugar-coated voice addressing the myriad life and business challenges that go along with this whole freelancing thing. Of course, I’d also like to see you do with this blog whatever *you* get the most out of, so if what you’ve been doing isn’t it, then change it up! I’ll still read every post! : )

  3. What she said.

    Kelly nailed it. We can find 5 Ways to Land Clients anywhere but where do we find 5 Ways to Overcome the Sucky Feelings you get when you think you are a total fake?

    You have a unique voice and you are finding it in this journey of wondering. Thanks for your honesty.

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