I Haven't Written Creatively In Months

Here's what happened.

Oren Cohen
Oren Cohen
Photo by Tim Marshall / Unsplash

Imagine having a dream that feels distant, and at the same time, everyone around you seems to have achieved it so quickly.

It’s frustrating.

For me, that dream is living a stable financial life. Yes, I have a job. Yes, I have a roof over my head. Yes, I’m not in any danger. But do I have any savings? Not any I can use before pension time. Do I achieve any of my financial goals? Not for the last decade of my life. And not for lack of trying.

I’m sure any student or post-grad with lots of debt will agree with me that adulting is hard. You don’t have anyone to guide you. The problem with our society is that it’s so easy to fall into financial traps and excruciatingly hard to get out of them.

And so, ten years ago, I started dabbling in things like Affiliate marketing to make a quick buck, and I hated it.

I just wanted to be free.

Do you ever wake up without looking at your bank account first thing in the morning? Do you ever suffer from anxiety, knowing that if you lost your job tomorrow, the world would come crashing down on you? Do you ever feel like the mere act of looking for a new job would burn you out because you have all of those worries to take into consideration?

And to top it all off, I’m also neurodivergent (or a Highly Sensitive Person). So, not only do I regularly burn out faster than most people, but I’m also investing a lot more time into processing those issues in my mind. Yes, I can wake up thinking about it and take it with me into bed at night.

There was a time in my life where I thought it was a good idea to share the specifics of my financial struggles, and people received it less well than I thought they would (and I didn't have high hopes, to begin with). People look at you wrong like you are trying to scam them out of their money.

But the fact was that I did look for ways to make more money. I still do to this very day — and I’m not ashamed of it. My promise to myself was always to create value. I couldn’t be that person that asked people for money without believing in what they were selling.

So, in Feb. 2019, I joined Medium in a bid to make money from writing.

My second story on Medium was a colossal guide that I wrote mostly for work, but I retrofitted it to public use. It was curated and unlocked curation for me. It also unlocked the ability to make money from the Medium Partner Program.

In all my time on the platform, there was only one month I crossed the $100 mark.

In the beginning, I was excited to write, and I propelled forward whenever I got those emails from Medium telling you that your story was curated, featured, or that you became a top writer.

That excitement didn’t last long, though.

As a person working a full-time job, I didn’t have a lot of time to write. And as the excitement for writing was waning, I realized one brutal truth:

Maybe I’m not here because I love writing so much.

There’s nothing that brings me more joy than talking about video games, fantasy, writing, being a content creator, and technology.

And yet, for the longest time, I didn’t feel the passion for creating content in those niches anymore aside from the Content Creator niche — my website’s topic.

I was stressed, and the writing thing didn’t work for me. I’m not one of those writers on the platform that went viral and had lots of views and made a lot of money. I know it’s possible, but I also know that I need to work extremely hard to get there.

When I hear that a writer made five figures in a month on the platform, I know it’s not just luck. That writer knows what they’re doing.

It’s a stupid comparison, but I always keep thinking that if I had made a single five-figure month on Medium, my life would change drastically. But no one can do the work for me. And no, I can’t hire anybody.

Although there were many topics I wanted to write about, my mind wouldn’t let me make it happen. There was always some worry to take into account — and I ended up burned out a lot. Writing an article for a free publishing platform requires a lot of effort but gives back nothing tangible in return.

I don’t know what will happen when I press publish on an article — no matter where I posted it. It could be a drivel of thoughts I wrote in five minutes, or it could be an article I poured my heart and soul into for a few days. When it’s the latter, it always hurts more when it flops. And to be honest, many writers on the platform feel like their articles are flopping lately.

So, I started to look outside Medium, too.

In September 2020, I opened an Etsy shop. And my revenue today has crossed the amount I ever made on Medium. The catch? It’s Revenue. Not profit.

When you work in the textile industry, there are costs associated with fulfilling your orders.

And then, I also tried to create a course about creating relatable characters. I wrote many stories in my past, and as an HSP, I have a unique viewpoint about character creation. But who would listen to an unpublished fiction writer? That’s just how the world works, I guess. You either build your credibility by building a community or building your credibility by creating it with a book launch.

So, I turned to KDP. There I published a short fiction ebook on Kindle and a yearly journal.

I also opened a YouTube channel and a TikTok account in the hopes of getting monetized or at least noticed.

At some point, the opportunity to join Newsbreak came to my fictional table, and I grabbed it immediately. But that also dissipated as they changed (and keep changing) their monetization terms.

In the months September 2020 — February 2021, the highest amount of pieces I published in a month was five articles.

A clear downfall trend. Then I pulled myself somewhat together last month and started picking up the pace.

It still isn’t enough.

I’m just not writing creatively anymore.

So, what’s the takeaway from this? You read this far, and now you want me to produce a catharsis for you. Something that would make sense and click in your mind. So, let me tell you that even though I love you and would like to have an answer for you — I don’t have a good one for this situation.

I can tell you only one thing: I’m just so freaking tired.

At the end of the day, If I have to stop moving forward for a second and look back towards where I came from, I can see a clear lesson:

I looked for answers anywhere but within myself.

Neither Medium nor Etsy will save me. If I were focusing on doing stuff for the long-term instead of looking for immediate solutions, I would have invested some money in cryptocurrencies over a year ago and let it bloom for a year. Anybody who bought Dogecoin over a year ago has made a lot of money recently. Or I would have started freelancing earlier.

The person with the most impact on your life is always yourself — we don’t always see it when we’re in it.

And so, in a bid to make the most positive impact on my life, I tried many different things. And that resulted in little progress among various aspects of my content creation endeavors instead of making the most impact in one thing if I persevered when it was hard.

I don’t want to end this article with big promises. Honestly, I don’t have the energy for it right now. Please, I know it’s hard, but do yourself a favor and stick to what you start. Don’t do what I did and waste a lot of time focusing your energy all over the place because you’re stressed, scared, or downright impatient.

It’s not creativity if you create content as an immediate act of survival. That next article or video won’t go viral and earn you that big break. If that’s what you hope for, then you’re in for a big disappointment. Those big breaks you witnessed for other people are 99% of the time the culmination of small steps they took brought them to where they are now.

You could much better spend your time doing things that have an immediate impact on your life. Like journaling, meditation, managing your stress levels, and even learning how to budget and creating a plan to climb out of the pit without the external help of a dream that you can’t promise to materialize.

It’s tough, but I’m rooting for you.

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CreativityContent CreationWritingBloggingPersonal Development

Oren Cohen

I'm a software engineer, blogger, and aspiring fantasy novelist. Helping geeks build online homes. Reach out! I don't bite :)


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