Latest News

When It Feels Like You've Given Up The Dream

This post unintentionally pairs really well from co-blogger Kristin's wonderful, wonderful post from earlier in the week (so…read it. Is what I'm saying. If you haven't). And, much like hers, comes from a personal place. Last summer, I re-entered the workforce for the first time in over four years. Needless to say, this was a big change for me. I thought I was prepared for it. I had made plans to combat all the things that would be different: less time with my child; less hours in the day to get writing and chores done, etc. I had prepared myself for the emotions and anxiety of going back to work after so long.

But there was something I wasn't prepared for, a feeling I didn't think to expect: the feeling that by going back to work I was, somehow, giving up on my authorly dreams. Now I actually quite like my work*, and have from the beginning. It's interesting and my coworkers are wonderful, but it takes up a lot of my time, not only in the actual hours I work, but in the hours of writing time I lose afterwards on nights where my job has mentally exhausted me and I just can't find it in me to create words.

The feeling was real, and it was something I had to combat, but it was wrong. Because people do it all the time; work full-time jobs and write during their spare time.

When your life changes, sometimes the dream has to change to fit, and that's okay. It's not failing, it's not giving up.

If you have to take a break from writing for a while, to get yourself in order, that's not giving up, either.

Or if you are writing a book so slowly it feels like you'll never finish, that's still not giving up.

If you suddenly find yourself homeschooling your children and have to relegate your writing time to weekends, you're not giving up.

And if you find yourself at a new job, a modified job, a new phase in your life, or any number of other things that change the time you spend writing—or the way you fit it in—you're still not giving up.

The dream might not be exactly as you pictured it, but changing the picture is okay. You can always get back to writing, you just might have to have patience, and a little faith in yourself.

*I actually think it's really important to not hate going to work every day, even if you are not working at your dream job. Because, quality of life and all that. Of course paying the bills is most important, but if you hate your job, keep looking! You never know what's out there.  

Kaitlin Ward

Kaitlin Ward is the author of Bleeding Earth, Adaptive Books 2016, and The Farm, coming 2017 from Scholastic.

Posts by Kaitlin

website twitter goodreads tumblr

  • Blogger Comments
  • Facebook Comments


  1. great advice! I fall in the category of I'm writing my book so slowly I'll never finish. and I also agree about getting rid of jobs we hate. My motto is that a lot of people spend a majority of their days at work--it should be a happy time not a time we dread.

  2. Kaitlin, I completely empathize with your situation. When I wrote my first novel, I was working between four and eight hours a week, and I could manage that. I wrote on the weekends when my husband was home with the kids. Then my youngest started school for the first time, so I took a job on the weekends with more hours, and I wrote during the day when my kids were at school.

    To make a long story short (I know, still long), my son, who is on the autism spectrum, was having trouble at school, and I am now homeschooling him. However, I had to keep the weekend job because I was now paying for curricula and outside classes for him. I wondered how I was going to continue to write, and it caused a lot of frustration. But I felt guilty for being upset, because, as you said, people do it all time.

    In an effort to keep momentum, I took a writing class at night. The instructor asked us to write a nonfiction feature-length article, and we would then critique it as a class. I wrote the piece on the struggles I was experiencing, and the class encouraged me to try and get it published. I submitted it to The Atlantic, and they accepted it. I had never been formally published before, so this was incredibly exciting.

    I still am homeschooling during the day and working all weekend, but I've sorted it out so that my son does some independent work at certain times, while I give myself an hour or two to write.

    This change in your life situation is absolutely not a failure in any way, and, although it feels like a setback to your writing dreams, you may find, as I did, that it offers you a unique perspective and maybe even some new material to write about. I wish you the very best and thank you for this wonderful post.

  3. This is such a great post. I have a demanding day job, which I love, but it does take a a chunk out of my writing time. Patience and faith are pulling me through and thinking about the other blessings that I have helps too. :)

  4. I've actually found that working full time helps me to better focus on my writing. Knowing I only have my one hour lunch break to write every day really makes me think about what I'm going to write and then actually do it. My word count skyrockets when I'm at work, then when I get home I can focus on the boys and connecting with the hubs and exhaling for awhile.

    Of course, deadlines wreck havoc with all that, but you have to draw a line and stick to it. I now spend 3 hours every Saturday morning at the library writing, and its amazing how much I can get done!

    I try to look at it as how lucky I am to have a really great job AND to get to do what I love on the side.

  5. Speaks to my soul! Been wrestling with this for almost 6 years now. My problem is, I've lost that little faith in myself. Any idea where to scrounge up some faith in the dream when it's been pushed aside for so long?

  6. Thanks for this- I was literally talking with my husband last night about how worried I was about losing the dream because with school and work I'm pretty much booked from eight to eight. Thanks for reminding me that even one sentence is still writing!

  7. Thank you for a breath of fresh air. I've been looking for those words to tell myself (and repeat to myself, and to write post-it notes to leave on the bathroom mirror for myself, and to make into a festive, brightly colored mini poster to tape on my station at work for myself, et cetera). I appreciate you.

  8. Completely agree! And thanks for back-linking to Kristin's post, b/c somehow we had missed that, but we loved it. These two DO pair really nicely, because they're both saying the same thing: Keep your dream alive. Job or not, do what it takes.

    Thanks for the reassurance, and good luck with your goals!

  9. Thanks so much for this. I work 9 hours a day M-F and my job IS writing (I'm a marketing content writer), so it's all the more overwhelming when I try to squeeze in creative writing time after-hours, or on the weekends. Some days, I'm just burnt out on writing, period - the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a computer and muster up the mental energy to do it some more. But I have been persevering on my manuscript... it's just very slow going. Thanks for the reminder that that's OKAY. And that my dream won't die just because it's taking longer to achieve. Slow and steady wins the race...

  10. My weary brain can so relate to this. Thanks for recognizing the hard work that goes into homeschooling, because it really is a full time job. That line totally made my week, maybe even my year. Very encouraging post!

  11. Great advice! When I was working full-time and started listening to the "I'll never finish my MS while working a full time job" voice in my head, I though about Stephen King who spent years working and writing before he broke through with Carrie. If he can work a full-time job and write, I can too!

  12. Hear, hear! When I was a kid I used to read Dear Abby because it was printed in our paper alongside the comics. In all the years I read it, one piece of advice stuck with me.

    The reader had written in asking if she should go back to school nights to get an advanced degree. "But that will take four years," she said, "and by then I'll be 46!"

    Abby astutely pointed out that in four years she would be 46 anyway, and wouldn't it be better to be 46 with that degree than 46 without it? So it is with writing.

    Don't ever stop working toward the dream. Give yourself more room, more patience, more slack. But if you dream it, never stop working toward that dream.

  13. Yay, I'm so glad that our posts unintentionally played off each other. :D

  14. I have to say that I really love this post!!! It's so hard to feel like you're living the dream when you work full-time AND write, but it can be done. There is no one box that defines what being a writer is. We have to walk our own journey and as long as we're doing what we love then we're living our own writing dream.

    Great post!!!


Comments are moderated on posts two weeks old or more -- please send us a tweet if yours needs approval!

Item Reviewed: When It Feels Like You've Given Up The Dream Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kaitlin Ward