How Freud has Influenced Your Career Path
I am officially a paid writer.
It feels good…but also bad.
How do you make an income as a writer with no credentials?
I am asking because…
That’s me. The non-credentialed one.
I began pursuing a writing career full force(ish) three months ago and I was paid for a piece of writing two days ago. This is cause for celebration.
But my lasting enemy the Superego is crushing me a bit.
We’ll get to that later. For now, here is a fact:
I used Upwork for paid writing gigs!
How does this work?
It’s kind of like an interactive classified ad system. Clients list job postings and freelancers bid for jobs. Jobs are broken down into categories and subcategories like:
- Graphic Design
- Legal Support
- Customer Service
- And more…
There is really an endless supply of options, so the trick is being one of the first to apply and making your profile and bid stand out through a combination of personalization and appropriate (read: low) pricing. Jake Jorgovan does a pretty great job summarizing the Upwork freelancer process on his website.
After that, you do a good job on the project (obviously), wrangle positive reviews, and they’re displayed on your profile. As you build relationships and ratings, you start charging more.
Like $50 an hour more…
Which I think is pretty good.
The woman for whom I housesat in Tuscany has made her income this way for nearly two decades.
Did I mention that in doing so she is able to own a rustic stone home with all modern amenities, surrounded by fields and mountains in Tuscany?
Seeing this process played out in real life made the whole thing much more graspable than just comparing myself to the faceless profiles of other unknowns all over the world.
I wanted a piece of this, and I got one.
Though not exactly from the same pie…
My job was writing in-depth review articles for kitchen tools. Please, stay calm. I know how exciting that sounds.
Want to know more about potato ricers, paella pans, kitchen torches, or electric percolators? I’m your gal.
But you probably don’t want to know more about those things. Nor do you want to read the 10 single-spaced pages I wrote on each subject.
The thing is this: The process was actually kind of enjoyable…I am the type who likes to know everything so that I can always have an opinion.
(Does that sound like a pitfall?
When it comes to purchases, I obsessively read reviews, spend hours reading pros and cons or general history about a given thing, compare and contrast and generally just lose myself in what turns out often just to be an amplified sense of indecision.
This job on Upwork evoked all of those “skills,” though.
Basically, I chose five highly-rated items in the given category and researched them until I felt confident in guiding readers on which would be the best options for purchase.
All this I did for the past two weeks. And it was well and good…
Ask me how much I’ve been working on my book. Or my blog posts. Go on. Ask me. (ughhhhh)
Yeah, you know the answer. It’s bad.
I have done about an hour’s worth of work on my book.
The book? That thing that is the whole reason I left Los Angeles and set out on this writer’s path?
And my blog posts have averaged at one a week.
Granted, there has been some movement in there…
I said goodbye to my LA family. I drove 13 hours to a new state. I unpacked. I repacked and headed to a housesit in Austin. I settled in. Lots of adjustment and not much space to commit to routine. And that is not easy on the psyche (mine, at least).
The point is that in my spare hours, the looming deadlines of the Upwork writing projects took over my conscious writing and subconscious anxieties.The energy and time that I have been blessed with to make my personal writing goals a reality went instead into something impersonal, but paid.
I feel guilty, like I have shortchanged the universe.
It took me a long time to get to the point in life where I felt like I understood what I truly wanted to do with my time. And here, three-ish months in, I’ve already been sidetracked by the prospect of money.
The truth is that I think needed a little psychological checkmark that told me I’m capable of getting paid for writing.
And after the first article was finished, I accepted the others with the excuse of their being great “writing exercises” and beneficial general “information” to know.
(Like: what is the best potato ricer?)
So, I’ve done it. And although they want me to write more articles (and pay me more money!), I can’t. I’m quitting. Why?
Because it is sucking me away from my purpose, my goals.
What Does Freud Have to Do With Our Income?
This is going to seem like a new topic, but bear with me:
My psychologist friend told me this morning that he’s battling often with his superego.
A quick primer:
According to Freud, we have three ego components:
1. The Superego (“Above I”)
This is our “parent” ego, the part that is concerned with fitting in and behaving “appropriately.” Often controlling, judgmental, and reprimanding. There are good components of this, but in my mind it is primarily the punisher.
2. The Id (“it”)
This is our childish, laissez-faire part. It’s strong–the one component that is with us from birth. It marks our instinctive and primal desires.
3. The Ego (“I”)
And here we have the adult. The mitigating force between our inner child and our overly-responsible inner parent. This is the reasonable one, the balance for which we strive.
I imagine these three components as a totem, with the superego up top (in my head), the id at the bottom (in my itchy feet), and ego in my heart.
The Superego and Id are always at each other’s throats, while the poor ol’ Ego is generally relegated to trying to play peacemaker.
If you want to read more about the three components of ego, here’s a link I like by Verywell.com.
So, back to my friend.
In a nutshell:
He feels like he is not doing enough work…that he should be reading more books and spending more after-hours time analyzing his patients.
His Superego is having a field day with him.
But here’s the thing:
He works at least 40 hours a week, splitting his time between the psychology practice and a center for refugee and homeless young men.
He’s in the process of moving into a new home. In his hobby time, he takes a weekly theatre course. Oh, and he just found out that the stepfather with whom he grew up has cancer. A nice new addition to the dementia and MLS.
I listened to these hardships and underneath the bleeding heart for my friend heard, that old familiar voice beginning to chastise me for my feelings toward my own “work life.”
“Meggan, this guy is actively working to change people’s lives. He has a real job–two of them, in fact–and he feels like he should be doing more with his life. He can’t quit and he’s not quitting and look at you: already leaving your income because you think it takes too much of your creative energy.”
Who am I to feel like a few hours a day spent writing articles on kitchen appliances is so tough? Who am I to complain that I’m not doing enough when I literally have no one telling me how I should spend my time and no responsibilities that the typical employed person must face on a daily basis?
By all apparent measures, my friend does so much more than me. And he beats himself with almost exactly the same rhetoric as my own.
I am confident that he doesn’t deserve the abuse.
But I hesitate to say the same for myself.
Your Brain Will Attempt to Sabotage Your Creativity
So why am I here, what am I writing about?
I know that (as with nearly all my posts) I’m trying to tell myself something. I’m trying to regain my footing. And I’m doing so with hopes that you the reader can relate and will connect with me in doing so.
As I set down my tea, I see on the cheesy little teabag tag this quote:
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”
-Robert F. Kennedy
I am here because I need to find strength to resist the voices in my head.
The orchestra conducted by the Superego.
The Superego will constantly be there telling me that I should conform more, behave more consistently, find a safe job, stop daydreaming, get married, have kids, etc. etc.
There is so much fear toward my new quest to become a writer…
I’m unemployed. I have no published work. I keep getting distracted. Others get so much more done than me.
All that chatter us just a special agent sent out by the Superego: Resistance.
That ugly fucker who has taken on this new form by telling me that I am incapable.
Usually he likes to tell me that I am in over my head, lazy, or disorganized.
This is a new one.
He’s so creative, that ol’ Resistance.
And here, publicly, I have to call him out.
Perhaps that’s all we need in this type of situation.
I have chosen the path for myself, and I choose to accept what comes with it. All the fear, anxiety, and dread toward becoming a writer, they are mine to bed down with.
(At least they are loyal bedpartners.)
And even though many things along the way might present themselves to lessen the discomfort (namely an otherwise-sourced income), they cannot become part of the current equation.
I will continue to trust the process.
I will accept that I can work only with my own personal resources, not the resources of someone else.
I will accept that I cannot always control or measure the resources that are my own, nor can I accurately gauge how much I can or should have.
There may be components beyond my sight and understanding that drain me, so I will not beat myself up for feeling like I should be doing more with my energy.
But always, always, I will show up, and I will do as much as I can.
And attempting to avoid the fear, anxiety, and dread means that I am attempting to avoid my calling.
This feels like a good moment to remind us all of my favorite quote by Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I meant to write this post talking about how you can use Upwork to find work as a writer.
But okay, you can still do that, and so can I.
Here, I’ll even include this video so I can say I provided you with some good info on the process:
But the point is this:
We can’t lose sight of our purpose.
Sure, we can allocate our time to include projects toward which we are not especially excited, but if the balance begins tipping precariously, we have to begin working to correct it.
Even if it means less money and less outside respect.
Says my Superego.
He tells me that I have no right feel so oppressed by the Upwork job, that I should manage my time better and figure out how to do both it and my personal writing projects. He tells me to be stronger, better.
But I have to be realistic:
Right now is not a good time.
The evidence shows that in doing the Upwork job, I fell off the quest wagon.
I lost sight of the target.
Right now is for me. And probably all the future nows are for me, too.
What I guess I’m trying to say is this:
Do what you believe you are meant to do.
Make it work.
Quit the things you must.
Accept the fear.
Be distracted only out of necessity.
The universe is counting on you.
Have you used sites like Upwork for employment? How do you balance them with your personal jobs?
Or how about this? What if you have a real job? Or a family! Or other important things! How do you deal with the time balance? How do you pursue the other things you love if it is not the job itself?
I don’t feel like I do a good job with this. Tell me your secrets…or just commiserate 🙂
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