Can You Reassure Me That Realism Isn’t A Virtue?

Flickr / Roger Schultz
Flickr / Roger Schultz

Hi, 

I’ll try ever so hard not to make this email too long and waffle-y. I’m 27, I live in London (the best thing I ever did was move here 18 months ago), I work as a nanny and I long to write.

I’ve longed to write for as many years as I can remember. When I picture my ideal life, it involves a laptop, some quirky coffee shop, and no morning alarm clocks in sight. I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I’m tasting that lifestyle right now; the children I nanny for are of school age, so once I’ve dropped them off in the morning, the day’s (almost entirely) mine until 3pm. So I’ve begun making strides. I work as a freelance copywriter/social media manager for a couple of corporate clients. And I want to build my business so I can eventually become freelance full-time (eek!). So I’m doing Marie Forleo’s B-School. And one of my friends is my accountability partner. When we were sitting down together yesterday, my stomach got all knotted up and I realised: I’m going about this all wrong. I don’t want to work with corporate clients. That work doesn’t excite me in the slightest. And yes, while I like the idea of telling people’s stories for them and giving them a voice when they struggle to express themselves, I also want to tell my own stories. 

I want to write articles for websites and features for magazines. I want to post regularly on my blog (which, so far, hasn’t been happening). I want to help people feel seen and understood. I want to provide a fresh perspective and a haven from the bullshit that can be day-to-day life. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. 

I need to break through this resistance I’m putting in place for myself.

I figured a good way might be to get some inspiration and insights from someone who’s doing precisely what I want to do. Hence I’m emailing you. And being much more waffle-y than I promised I’d be. Sorry about that. 

Basically, I welcome with open arms any insights into your journey and any reassurance you can give me that the word ‘realistic,’ as society defines it, doesn’t have to factor in my vocabulary.

Thank you so much for your time.

Xo

***

Okay, for me, first thing is first: I honestly believe that practice makes perfect and to press on and to act like you’re already living the life of your dreams because what we focus on expands. Look at you! Making it happen! Taking your future into your own capable hands!!!!

You are already the woman you need to be to make everything you’ve ever wanted to work. The rest isn’t a becoming so much as an unfolding. Trust the process. Trust yourself. Be brave with your life so that other people might be brave with theirs. Set the standard. Make them marvel at you.

Baby gurl, don’t you see? You’re asking me how to fly when you’re already in the sky.

But.

But, but, but.

This talk of realism. That you don’t need to be realistic to have this life that you dream of: that’s a sticking point for me. That’s a sticking point for me because it does you a grave disservice. What you want is entirely within the realms of possibility, and you’re being smart and calculated and strategic about getting there, and so you are absolutely being realistic – and that is IMPORTANT. Because dreaming of driving to the country is all well and good, but without a map on how to get there you won’t half take some wrong turns. You’re writing your own definition of “realistic”, is all. That’s spunky.

You’ll need that spunk to arrive because know this, too: freelance life? It will make you work harder than you ever do when you’re making somebody else money. It’s really goddamn hard, and involves long days and unreliable cash-flow for a while, maybe forever, and there will be long stretches of time where you wish that actually, you could just switch off your brain and be an office robot for a bit, because it seems easier that way. I like the way you’re approaching things: a gentle see-saw of balancing rent-money work with entrepreneur-money work with passion-project work. One word of advice I struggle with myself: don’t make the money-maker your priority. Establish a way to keep things ticking over, and prioritise where you want to be – not where you already are.

You need structure. The only way to write is to do it, and the best thing I ever did for my writing life was commit to my blog – my space, where I could be totally myself in a way that I saw fit. Because I posted regularly, because I already treated myself like an established ~brand~, my blog is where all my writing magic began (and it is where I go back to, week-after-week, to keep the fire burning, too.) Decide to update it once a week, at least, to get a portfolio growing, and commit to five pitches a week to magazines and websites that you like, linking to this portfolio. Know that success takes longer than you think, but that the hard work is worth it. Your attitude to your passions – your commitment to them – will change rapidly as soon as you actively start pursuing them.

Good luck, little one. I am watching on in awe.

Reader Question is a new series of advice columns from Laura Jane Williams. She doesn’t know shit about shit, but if you want to be reassured that everything is going to be okay, use the “Contact Laura Jane” box on her author profile to email her your question. TC mark

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