It’s a Tough Gig to Put Yourself All in With no Idea Whether You’ll Sink or Swim

Monday, 3:00 AM, Iowa time.

The aroma of freshly brewed coffee fills the air as flames dance in the fireplace. The glowing glare of my laptop monitor stabs into my sleepy eyes. I feel pressured to finish writing by the time the others wake at sunrise.

Words on paper are only a fraction of what my workload for the day entails. The independent writer doesn’t have a publication or newspaper pushing their story through, editing or advertising.

The independent writer doesn’t have a structured deadline or a freelancing check coming in the mail.

The independent writer needs to build an audience. We need to sell our stories and our independently published books. We need to be an influencer and convince people that they want us in their lives.

I’m nothing more than your every day, average person with a story to tell.

The job of the independent writer is different than that of a content or freelance writer, and for us writing is the easier part.

There are so many ideas and they’re everywhere waiting for us to snatch them up mid-air.

They’re inside the walls of my home, up in the sky peering down through the clouds, beneath my feet as the leaves crunch while walking down the sidewalk, when the coffee shop is closed and a pack of wild elementary school kids have taken over the library, when I look into my husbands eyes, during teenage meltdowns.

They’re on the train, bus and in the car. They follow me like a stalker.

They’re right in front of me.

I pull out my mini detective like notebook and jot it down.

This is just the beginning.

It’s been seven days since I last posted on any social media platform. This happens, life happens and I needed to shut off all outside stimuli while I search for the answers to make sense of it all. I needed time for me, and now I feel like I’ve fucked it all up.

But everyone needs a vacation, right? That’s why those 9 -5 jobs accrue paid time. Even if it’s a stay-cation we need a break, an interval, an escape from the chaos of the world and the rat race of the mundane every day grind. We need to clear our heads, revive ourselves and rejuvenate.

This was me last week. I needed to hide. Now I’m frustrated, intimidated, anxious and sad because as an independent writer, seven days is going to hit me rather hard. My income will be less this month, my stats lower, my momentum lagging and I’ll have to work double time at winning readership back.

I’m nonexistent unless I promote, market, brand, influence, engage and all the other aspects of the role of the independent writer. All the things I don’t necessarily want to do because what I want is to write.

The independent writer needs to be a person with a relateable personality. We have to be our own public relations manager and we must excel in responsiveness.

The independent writer is self motivated.

The internet is the most powerful tool for the independent writer. We’re able to reach out and grab the attention of thousands of people at all times. We’re able to work around the clock with absolutely no boundaries, and that’s usually what we do.

It’s sink or swim, feast or famine, failure or success, and it’s easy for all of it to go to crap within a matter of a few days. Everything we’ve worked for will dissipate in the form of a trickle, and slowly do us in because the job of the independent writer isn’t only to write. It’s to sell ourselves as well.

Whether it’s writing, art or any form of an independent creative career the actual action of creating is only a piece of what independent means.

If our end game is to be successful then our entire game is to be successful.

There are a number of ways to generate income as an independent writer but it’s up to us to do the work. We must post witty Twitter updates, flashy photos on Instagram and engaging statuses on Facebook.

Some day I’ll muster up enough courage to start doing Facebook live videos while wearing my pj’s or sweat pants because nothing says I’m depressed more than wearing your pajamas all day and behaving anti-social.

I spent last week writing, sketching and photographing autumn as it takes over the earth. I just didn’t share it because as an independent writer I’m writing for the sake of passion, and passive income in order to afford to continue to create.

I once asked this question on Quora, How do you generate funding to write? 

Someone left an answer stating, Why do you need money to write? All you need is a coffee shop and a laptop. 

Well, that’s only a portion of what I need. The independent writes for the world because the world needs us and our stories. Our do’s and don’ts, our personal narratives and commentary on how we survive the worst shit. We are the voice of the voiceless.

The independent writer needs materials, books to read and website fees. I can create a long list of costly tools that will aid with success.

The independent writer thrives off the idea that others believe in us, follow us and are inspired by us and although this motivates us to keep going it doesn’t ensure our survival.

What ensures our survival is working seven days a week.

6:05 AM, Iowa Time.

Revise, edit and publish.

Erika Sauter lives is a small town in Iowa with her husband, two children and eight cats. Her work has been featured in over a dozen media publications and her artwork hangs in homes and offices across the United States. Visit Erika
Erika Sauter lives is a small town in Iowa with her husband, two children and eight cats. Her work has been featured in over a dozen media publications and her artwork hangs in homes and offices across the United States. Visit Erika

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