I have heard the advice time and time again that a successful writer must work on her craft each day. With the hope that I might be able to eek out a bit of a living in this profession, I dutifully followed this mantra when I began my freelancing career. At first, it was easy. I had years’ worth of story ideas floating in my head and was eager to finally get them onto paper. A few early acceptances added fuel to my fire, and I couldn’t wait to face the computer screen each morning.
The burning passion, however, started to dwindle after about a year. With my best ideas already in manuscript form, I turned to the leftovers in my “story ideas” file. I kept writing, but my confidence in the final product lessened, and it probably showed. Likewise, I found myself getting increasingly frustrated by the lack of response from publications, convinced that all those requests for SASEs were merely a ploy by the editors to get free stamps.
Just at the point when I was ready to start scouting the want ads, my husband got an unexpected job offer in another state. In the scramble to buy and sell a house, find movers, pack, and make life still seem a bit normal for our preschool-age son, I did not have time to write.
While it would seem that this lack of production would be bad for a career, it actually revitalized it. New ideas were everywhere: how to organize a garage sale, what grandparents could buy their grandchildren for Christmas instead of toys (inspired by the number of boxes it took to pack my son’s stuff), what the mistakes various companies made during our relocation could teach businesses about customer service. A new location also meant new markets that now saw me as a local. Like an athlete who decides to leave retirement for one more shot at glory, I became a player again.
I still believe that a writer needs to keep plugging away at her chosen profession, but I have learned that it is not always by sitting down to write. Sometimes you need to break the routine to get your mind to expand in new directions and your heart to realize how much you love what you do.
Beth B. Hering is a freelance writer who resides in South Elgin, Illinois with her husband and 5-year-old son. Her work has been published by Compton’s Encyclopedia, Guideposts for Kids, The Dollar Stretcher, Chicago Parent, iParenting.com, and others.