In my last blog, I brought up one of the first questions I ask when dealing with clients who feel overwhelmed by the constant pressure to write more: Where do you want your writing to take you? Discussing the fact that there are no universal goals when it comes to writing, I argued that this isn’t only a question we tend to overlook, I also pointed out the urgency of answering this question for ourselves if we want to stay sane in the current writing climate.
Today, I will share another question I ask when trying to figure out what my clients want from their writing—What does ‘making a living’ mean to you?
Figure out YOUR financial goal
There are so so many articles out there that will tell you about writers who managed to start earning a 6-figure income through their writing, and how you yourself can become as successful within the next 2 to 5 years. Earning that much money through your writing sounds absolutely fabulous, but do you really need that kind of money? Is that truly a goal you have to set for yourself? Or is it far from what you need?
We all know that there are particular standards that differ per country/culture as to what making a living amounts to. There are numbers we look up to, numbers we look down upon, and numbers we would be OK with, or would at least be enough for us to live our lives comfortably enough (which is the basic meaning of making a living, after all). So, how about we figure out what we need to live comfortably enough before raising the bar to numbers that are bound to leave us breathless?
Living comfortably enough
What does living comfortably enough mean to you?
– What kind of place do you need to live comfortably enough?
– What kind of car(s) do you need to drive?
– How often do you need to go out, for dinner, to the theatre, to the cinema, to your local pub?
– What type of clothes or groceries do you need to be able to buy?
– What kind of holidays do you need to go on, and how often?
My partner ‘only’ works four days a week because he doesn’t want to work five. And he doesn’t need to, either. I combine a variety of different jobs that make my heart sing and easily work 60 hours a week, just for the fun of it. We’re the only ones in his family who rent a place instead of own one because juggling those different jobs makes it impossible to get a mortgage. Despite that, we’re happy where we are now financially because, while we earn less than all the other couples in the family, we understand that we’re in fact living comfortably enough. Would I mind earning 6 figures through my writing? Not at all. But it’s not a goal of mine; it’s not the income I need right now, so it’s not where my bar is set.
Raising the bar
That said, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t raise the financial bar little by little, if you want to. My partner and I lived in an apartment for over a decade and it wasn’t until the last two years or so that my tiny office at the back of the house stopped working for me. My business was growing and I was spending more and more hours in that less than inspiring space. We tried refurbishing it—the rental market in our hometown was so slow at the time that moving to someplace bigger wasn’t an option—but it wasn’t enough. Lucky for us, that’s when the market shifted and we found our new place, a three story house with a giant attic that I turned into the best workplace imaginable. Yes, it’s more expensive than our old place, but we reached the point where raising our standards made all the sense.
What I’m saying is that there’s nothing wrong with wanting more than you currently have. There’s nothing wrong even with wanting that 6-figure income, although I suggest you might want to read those articles and start kicking your own ass (and ask yourself, while you’re at it, whether you need to reach it within the next 2 to 5 years). But, you do need to remember that none of us needs to put that kind of pressure on ourselves. What you do need to do is figure out what kind of ‘living’ you need right now, and turn that into your current goal. YOUR current goal. Once you reached that goal, that’s when you make up the balance and see whether it’s time to want a little more. If not, fine. We don’t have to want more or it all. If yes, go for it.
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