I’ve still not decided what I’m going to do with this blog yet.
I’ve always been writing, and I feel like it’s my most notable and applicable skill -personally and professionally. But whenever I sit down to write, the same thing always goes through my head: “Do I have to?”
And the answer is always, of course, no. Until just under seven weeks ago, when I started my new job as a content writer. Suddenly, the answer was yes – if I wanted to be paid.
I’m now internally dealing with the shift in my perception; of my own abilities and of the expectations placed on it.
I’m finally coming round to the idea that I truly am my harshest critic. Of course, I’ve been telling myself these words since I started trying to see writing as an actual thing I can do – but only in seeing the reactions of others to my work has it started to actually mean something.
I’d say it’s slightly different to the example of an artist critiquing their own masterpiece. In that, they’re showing their work to the world, expecting it to be judged. They might see a few brushstrokes here and there that are out of place, but if their work is in a gallery, it should be good.
In my job, what I do isn’t particularly ‘good’, as there’s no scope for it to be. Good writing is subjective: a piece of prose or verse of poetry is judged on its rhythm; its ability to describe things; its flow. Good content writing, on the other hand, is writing which gets to the point as quickly as possible, doesn’t use any unnecessary words, and/or complies with a set of rules written by Google; all things which run conversely to creative work.
In my new job, I’ve found that just being able to put things into words effectively is enough to be seen as ‘good’. When surrounded by people whose specialisms lie elsewhere, being able to ‘translate’ their work into something that is readable, concise and interesting is ‘great’, and they are happy to say so. This is what I’m currently coming to terms with, and finally seeing writing as a skill, rather than a talent.
Once I got the call that I had an interview, I instantly began to stress about the prospect of having to write as a job. I’d not finished anything for years – I’d just been doing bits and pieces of short stories, novel ideas, and world-building projects. I was petrified that I’d get to my desk and just… not be able to write. I was so obsessed with this issue that after hearing I’d gotten a second interview, I nearly told them I was no longer interested. Fortunately, my partner convinced me to just see where it went.
Like many other aspects of my life, the fears and worries I’d built up before walking in on my first day turned out not to be a problem. Of course, I was nervous; I’d not received direct critique of my work in a long time, and based on self-judgement, I was worried I wouldn’t deal with criticism very well.
In reality, it just didn’t bother me. I did as I was told, and the nature of the content meant that I wasn’t emotionally or personally invested in its quality. I feel like this was a turning point for my self-perception: not everything I write is brilliant, or a masterpiece, even if it’s intended for the public eye. And that’s okay.
I’m now able to focus less on the words themselves and more on whether I’m meeting deadlines, whether my content meets the requirements set, and making sure it’s accurate and relevant. I feel that I still have a long way to go regarding creative writing, but in writing as a whole, I’ve been able to zoom out, and see the bigger picture.
Some people might see this as a bad thing – that I’m focusing less on the quality of my work than making it fit for purpose. However, it’s the exact opposite: instead of fretting about which word goes where, I’m finally truly able to take pride in what I create, and that makes my work better than ever.