I quit writing.
The past few weeks have been hell. I’ve been trying to bar the door against the anxiety and depression monsters, and slowly losing ground.
All four of my kids came down with the flu — at the same time. I had to message clients and move due dates.
Our car is in the shop getting some major repairs, and the price keeps getting higher. We decided to put money into our aging, but until recently, reliable minivan instead of buying a new car. We are betting that our old car can last another two years. But, these repairs are more than we bargained for.
This week I finally succumbed to the flu. It has knocked me out. I haven’t been able to do anything except make sure the kids are taken care of. Work has been impossible. I had to email my clients again and move deadlines out even further.
And the cherry on top was a major falling out with the powers that be at a platform that I had become too reliant on for freelance work this past year. My clients on the platform all love my work, but the powers that be at the platform didn’t like my need to keep moving deadlines during the past couple of weeks.
I felt that all my life was missing was a steel guitar and a raw, twangy heart-felt solo.
I have worked hard to earn a living from writing. But, I couldn’t do it anymore. It was too hard. The Universe was combining against me.
I decided I would quit. I was done. I would have to do something else.
Then I went to bed and took a long nap.
When You Work for Yourself, You Can Always Un-Quit
After I abruptly woke up to the sounds of my youngest dutifully practicing her piano pieces for her upcoming music festival, I still felt awful.
But, a few clients had emailed me back with kind messages, letting me there was no rush and to take care of myself and my family.
The Universe seemed a little kinder. One of the best things about working for yourself is that you can always un-quit. I didn’t have to beg for my job back. I didn’t have to apologize to a manager or to any coworkers.
I did have to decide how I wanted to proceed.
I’m the sole financial support for our family right now. I’m also the primary caretaker of our children. My wife is finishing nursing school at one of the most competitive programs in the country. It’s a lot to balance. My mental health issues don’t make it any easier.
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt life spiraling out of control.
But, because I’ve been here before I’ve learned a few important things.
I’m flexible. One of my biggest strengths is that I am comfortable changing directions quickly. When I hit a roadblock, I’m ready to find a new path to get to my destination.
My wife and children love me and are rooting for me. Like all writers, I spend a lot of time inside my head. It can start to feel like it’s just me against the world. But, that’s a lie.
I have an incredible family who loves me and is proud of my work. They may not always understand what I do, but they know I love it and that it pays our bills.
Having someone in your corner can help you rally in the late rounds of an ugly bout, as long as you’re willing to listen to their cheers.
I’ve also learned that when I hit a rough patch like this one, it’s time to reevaluate my routine and business model.
I’ve been focusing hard on my freelance work this year. I love it. I love helping businesses grow. But, I’ve been ignoring my other writing interests.
I have a lot of different topics for essays and articles that have been percolating in my mind. I need to invest time in myself to get these ideas out into the world. That means writing more on Medium.
It means facing my fears and pitching to websites and magazines. I’m comfortable pitching potential clients, but the idea of pitching editors and publications still intimidates me.
I Created This Job — I Can Design a Promotion
One of the things I love most about being self-employed is the ability to create your own job. There is no employer in the world that would let me work the way I do.
But, just like anything, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. When that happens, I can’t go to HR and ask for a transfer or talk to my manager about a promotion.
I get to do something even better.
I get to design my own promotion.
Because I just un-quit today, I’m not sure what my new job is going to entail. But, I know that at least part of it will be writing on Medium more often. I’ll still work with clients because I love it and the pay is too good to walk away from without anything else in hand.
Writing can be a brutal profession. It’s unstable and full of rejection. It’s also the only thing I can ever imagine doing with my life.
If you ever feel like quitting, go ahead. But, you may also want to take a nap before you do anything too drastic.