Welcome to Day 16 of the 31 Day Challenge of “Giving Depression The Bird” (but secretly “Fuck Depression”). I didn’t make the October goal, but I’m going to finish this series, damnit.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was three years old. (Of course, I also wanted to be a skydiver like my mom, but that’s another story.) I went to college for it. I did all the (allegedly) right things. After college I applied for writing work. And applied. And applied. And applied. Each time I applied, and was turned down, I gained a little more fear. I was working in the IT department of a health insurance company while I went to college. After months of rejections (some fairly nasty. I’m looking at you, Boise Weekly) I decided that maybe I wasn’t supposed to write. Maybe I was just supposed to be a code monkey. I gave up. Working with computers was safer, and it was something I knew I could do.
I told you all that in order to be able to tell you this part. I know I’m feeling better when I start taking risks. I don’t mean, “I think I’ll play chicken with this car and then go to a bar and take a stranger home,” kind of risk (helloooo mania), but healthy risks. “I’m alive” risks.
I’ve been working on Mechanical Turk for a few months, now, and have enjoyed it. The pay isn’t all that great, but it’s got a few things going for it. 1. It’s reliable. There is always work available. 2. I get paid to learn. Where else can I get paid to learn to be a transcriptionist? I read up on the guidelines each company wants, took a little test, and then I was good to go. They give me feedback to help me get better at it. After doing that for a bit, I can took what I’d learned and hopped on Elance, which generally pays better. On the days when I can’t get Elance work, I plug away on Turk. Little steps. Little risks.
And then I took a bigger one.
I took one that made my heart pound.
I signed up to take the Write.com qualification test.
Weirdly, was just as terrified of succeeding (and then not being able to get the job done) as I was of failing. A few weeks later I got an email that the test was available, and I took it. I suspect the adrenaline dump I got wasn’t that different from skydiving. It was extra scary because I’d been checking the forums and listening to everyone bemoan how difficult it was to pass, and how many times they’d tried.
I passed it. I found out that the test wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was that, every single time I accepted an assignment, I got heart-pounding terrified. I got an adrenaline jolt every single time. I had fear of failure every single time. I’ve done 20 of these assignments, and I still get that reaction. When I see an assignment I’m qualified for, I have to pep talk myself through applying for it, without exception. There’s fear and anxiety and resistance to overcome. I’m hoping eventually this reaction will eventually go away. Is this how professional writers feel every time they sit down to get the job done?
That said, I always feel better after writing a piece. I always feel good for pushing through and finishing. I always feel better for having taken a risk than I do when I avoid it. Walking into the discomfort is not my natural reaction, but I feel better when I do it. I need to jump out of the proverbial plane more often.