Shut Up & Write | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's bookI subscribe to the newsletter of Mridu Khullar Relph. Mridu is a highly successful freelance writer. She writes magazine features writer and has contributed to several women’s and general-interest publications including Elle, Marie Claire, Vogue, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. She’s also a motivational speaker and writer who has written Shut Up & Write: The No-Nonsense, No B.S. Guide to Getting Words on the Page.

Mridu also coaches freelance writers, helping them get published. She was discussing this in one of her recent newsletters. Something she said struck home with me. Mridu was calling BS to some writers’ claim that they’re passionate about their work and if they had the choice, they wouldn’t do anything but write all day long.

Her counterpoint was this:

If someone’s truly passionate about writing, they’d be writing anyway, whether or not they had all day long to do it.

I find myself hard-pressed for time. Indeed, every moment of my day counts. So, I found that statement a bit harsh. I, for one, have no trouble admitting that I simply lack the time to write fiction nowadays, especially in the summer, with the wee one always around.

Employee vs. Entrepreneur Mindset

Mridu then asks something that made me do a double-take:

Do you know how I can tell whether a writer is in the employee mindset (and therefore always waiting for someone to come and give them a “fix” for their problems) or in the entrepreneur mindset (thereby ensuring that sooner or later, success is inevitable)?

Writers with employee mindsets measure their weeks and days by how many hours they’ve worked.

Writers with entrepreneur mindsets measure their weeks and days by what they’ve created and how many projects they’ve finished.

Writers who think of their work as a job may well make money, pay the bills, and do interesting work. Absolutely. But those are not the sort of writers I typically tend to work with.

Writers I work with want creative freedom as well as time freedom. Money as well as creative satisfaction. Fantastic storytelling as well as decision-making power over how their work is used.

The writers I work with want to make money, yes, but money is never the motivating factor.

They are driven by the need to live a creative life on their own terms. Telling the stories that are important to them. In a way that feels rewarding, creatively, financially, and emotionally.

That got me thinking. Which kind of mindset do I have, employee or entrepreneur?

There’s Writing and Then There’s Writing

The truth is, I have changed these past years. Whereas I first started writing in 2009, it was because I simply enjoyed writing. Nowadays, it has become a profession.

The upshot is that almost three-quarters of my income comes from writing.

But it’s not the kind of writing I set out to write. Since May, I have written and edited over 100,000 words, most of them for InSync Media, and have become their Editor-in-Chief. My writing nowadays consists entirely of SEO-optimized web content.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to make a living writing.

More importantly, I love working with InSync Media. They are an amazing team who really knows their stuff and have taught me a lot. I don’t even charge for the time I spend on our weekly meetings, as these feel like catching up with a friend.

But it’s not the kind of career I envisioned when I first started writing. I thought I’d be a fiction writer. And yet, it feels like the whole world is telling me that’s not to be: ironically enough, it’s Emotional Beats, my non-fiction book, which makes up the majority of my sales each month. Just like it’s my content writing which puts bread on the table.

What Am I?

So, does that make me an employee?

When I read Mridu’s words, I realized I’ve never had an employee mentality.

Maybe that’s because I’ve never worked as an employee myself. Or, perhaps, it’s because of my personality. I love forming connections but I also treasure my independence.

Whatever the reason, when writing, I don’t think about money. I am just excited to write, whether fiction or web content. I don’t even think about the number of words, SEO, or time spent. That comes later.

When I write, all I want is to tell a story.

And that, it turns out, is what makes me good at writing web content. For people don’t like to read a series of disjointed, SEO-oriented headlines. They want to read a story. And guess what? My fiction writing has prepared me for just that!

Incidentally, that’s why I don’t like the recommendation that you should write X hours each day. While it makes sense to have discipline in your writing, it puts you in an employee mindset. If you love writing, you will find a way to write. It really is as simple as that!

So, Mridu is right: if someone’s truly passionate about writing, they’ll be writing anyway. Even if it’s not the kind of writing they had originally envisioned!

How about you? What kind of mindset do you have?

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