I came to a realization this evening as I pounded out one more mindless story, this one on Christmas decorations. Yes, Christmas decorations, in late August.
The story was for a guy who owns several Web sites. He needs content for them, and he hires me to write stories. I do this for rates I would have scoffed at just one-and-a-half years ago. But today? I’m grabbing any work I can get.
And most of this work is incredibly unsatisfying. In addition to my Christmas lights story, in the last week I’ve written short stories on power saws, SCUBA computers, gold coins from Canada and remote-controlled cars. None of these subjects are particularly interesting to me.
So, yes, I feel like I’ve taken a step back. In fact, I made the mistake of looking recently at my former assignments from years past. I worked for a lot of respected trade publishers and newspapers. Today, many of these publishers are out of business. Others have slashed their freelance budgets.
So I’m applying to bottom-of-the-barrel writing ads posted on Craigslist, and hoping that my application stands out from the thousands of others that are being sent to these same bottom-feeding jobs.
That’s all very depressing. Fortunately, there is an outlet. I’ve written a few comicbook scripts for publishers. This is work I truly enjoy. And I’m in the middle of writing my own script for a graphic novel. The hope is, once I’m done, I’ll find a good artist to draw the story. I can then send it away for hopeful publication.
The point here is this: You need something to inspire your creative side, even if you spend most of your day plowing through work that feels mindless or pointless to you. If you don’t have that creative stuff to fall back on, you’ll certainly burn out.