Recently I went to a witchy full-moon ritual (as one does) and proceeded to unpack my tangled and varied emotions re: money, writing, and emotion. And BOY was it a doozy. All the witchcraft in the world couldn’t untangle me from my own, very self-inflicted curses.
Here’s what I discovered:
- Because of my past and upbringing, I exist in a “scarcity mindset” re: money
- My scarcity feelings mean I take dumb jobs I hate, and consciously avoiding linking something I love (writing) with something that terrifies me (money)
- This stops me from being a billionaire, or something
Feel free, by the way, to skip this whole post if you’re not in the mood to hear a stranger whinge about their emotional hangups. But I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking this through since letting my looseleaf sheet full of bad thoughts catch fire in a teeny tiny cauldron under the soggy moon and I think I might have some borderline helpful thoughts.
So let’s get conversational: do you, too, suffer from long-ingrained emotional feelings of scarcity when it comes to money, perhaps due to periods in your life when you lacked control over finances and felt vulnerable?
Do you, too, love to write and wish for nothing else than for it to be your True Profession, but feel tethered to an emotionally draining job due to said feelings of scarcity?
Here’s my honest, earnest, and very unsolicited advice (to you and me):
1.Don’t Quit Your Job. Yet.
Unless you work in a field that is slowly sapping your will to live or with colleagues and supervisors that are emotional vampires, probably don’t quit your day job to be a Full Time Writer right away. Because as Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic, and I shamelessly paraphrase here: you have to support your writing, and not expect it to support you right away. Simple as that. It’s too much pressure. And if you leave your job, and then lose your home and your car because you gave up financial security to write, how are you going to feel about writing? You’re going to resent it, right? And you don’t want that, because in a world full of monotonous and crushing routine you do not want one of the only things that sustains you to feel like an antagonistic force that’s ruining your life.
2. Overcome scarcity feelings: Stop linking money with fear
Now, witchy though I may be, I’m not necessarily one of those “Omg, the universe will give you what you give it,” types of thinkers. But I do believe that holding onto negative emotions about money can bleed into other, more vital aspects of your life. And it can set up a self-fulfilling prophecy, a cycle of wanting and deficit. It can lead to conflicts with your partner. It can lead to you working too hard, for needlessly long hours, and abandoning your true craft. It can lead to your self confidence dipping so low that you define yourself only by your paycheck. During the aforementioned full moon circle, a man in his sixties held the talking stick (shut up, I know) and looked at little old wormy twenties-something me, who’d just sobbed about my feelings of insecurity with money and said,
“When I was your age, I thought money was the answer. I was miserable that I never had enough. I worked hard all my life to make a lot of money and here I am. I have a lot of money, but now that I have it, I’m afraid I’ll get sued or something. Lose it all. Money is not the answer.”
He’s right, of course. The more you define yourself by money, the more helpless and lost you’ll feel. Because it’s not the answer. And knowing that, I invite you (and me, mostly me, all of this is really about me) to disengage with those feelings of scarcity regarding money. Those feelings of terror associated with losing i.
It’s not the answer.
Okay, so you’re still at your day job, provided it’s not absolutely miserable (anyone who’s really miserable should just quit. Life is too short to suffer abuse). You’ve been working on disabling those feelings that there’s never-enough-money. Now’s the time to engage with writing with a different mindset. Not panic. Not fear. Not guilt. You don’t have to be guilty for spending an hour writing instead of spending an hour answering emails before you even get to work. Like I said, keep that day job. Don’t let it keep you, though. Don’t let it distract you from your purpose. And carve out time for writing every day. Work on your craft. This is what I’ve been working myself into for a couple years, and I’m finally at the point where I write/edit for at least two hours a day. I wake up super super early to write for an hour, then I write on my lunch break. It’s my real job, right? So I give it the energy it deserves. I may spend more hours at “work,” (eight, to be exact), but it receives far less of my emotional and mental energy regardless. Work is secondary to writing, in my experience, because writing is my real work.
4. Let yourself softly link money with writing
Okay! Step four. I’m not here yet, obviously. I’m still kinda on step two, disengaging my negative feelings about money. Step three I have down (geez, can’t even follow the suggested steps in my own dumb self-help post). But once I’ve worked through those feelings of scarcity, my hope is that I can slowly start making money from writing. Apply for some remote editing jobs or content writing jobs. Write a resume for an acquaintance for a small fee. Help a local business craft an email blast. Softly, slowly. Note that I’m still not putting pressure on my writing here, because my real writing is fiction. My novel. My stories. They’re sacred. They don’t have to make me money. But writing is a skill, and if I want it to define my life, then my desire is to softly and slowly meld my skills with money.
5. You’re a billionaire now, don’t worry
This isn’t a real step.
Detaching from negative thoughts about money takes time. Allowing yourself to accept money into your life takes time. Carving a path as a writer takes time. It’s actually probably a lifetime of work, but it’s the work you want to do, isn’t it? Isn’t that worth a little trouble, a little time, a little reflection? And a lot of writing?
Also, you will statistically speaking probably never be a billionaire anyway, so…sorry.