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Never Forget How Lucky You Are to Be a Writer

A friendly pep talk for all my fellow writers

Nico Ryan
6 min readNov 27, 2019


One morning a couple of weeks ago, I sat down and did something for which I’ll soon be paid $5000+.

It took me six hours to complete, requiring no physical exertion.

It wasn’t risky to my health or safety, and I didn’t have to do anything ethically questionable.

I didn’t ask for permission before doing it nor did I see or speak to an authority figure during or after the experience.

It required no commuting, no swiping in and out of a building, and no meeting deadlines imposed from higher-ups.

All I did was type out a story and then click ‘Publish’.

This is what I produced.

I don’t have a massive audience. I’m not friends with the folks who run top-tier publications. I didn’t call in any personal favours.

I simply spent half a day thinking and writing about what I believe are meaningful experiences and interesting ideas, and my words went viral.

The response to my story has reminded me how lucky we writers are to get paid doing what we love, i.e., sharing our thoughts with the world via the written word.

Writing—both the process itself and everything that’s involved in turning a passion for words into dollars earned—is often anxiety-provoking, boring, challenging, frustrating, isolating, and overwhelming.

And yet, it remains true that those of us who are privileged enough to see ones and zeros appear in our bank accounts merely from stringing words together and presenting them to readers are some of the luckiest folks in the world.

Whether it’s a side hustle or a full-time gig, getting paid to write is remarkable.

The Struggles of Being a Writer

Writers face many of the same difficulties entrepreneurs, freelancers, and other non–9-5ers typically confront.

As a writer, unless you work for a company, there’s nobody to whom you’re directly accountable but yourself and, if you have them, your clients.

You don’t have a manager forcing you to stay on task or from whom you can gain clarity on the work you need to do.

Showing up late to the job—cracking open your laptop and thinking, reading, and writing—or wasting hours surfing social media goes unpunished, at least in the short-term.

There’s no office to which you have to travel and no personnel waiting to give you instructions.

Nobody ensures you eat well, get enough rest each night, or take care of your mental health.

Usually, it’s just you, a place to work, some materials with which to write or type, and your own dedication, discipline, and drive.

Successful writers know how to effectively manage their time and organize their day-to-day lives so as to be maximally productive at their craft; however, even the most accomplished writers can struggle with the unique challenges that writers (and other creatives like them) tend to face.

Many people want to earn a living as a writer because they love to write; the transition, however, from ‘I write because I enjoy it’ to ‘I write because I enjoy it and because my livelihood depends on it’ can bring with it a ton of pressure.

Whenever your words are the vehicle through which you pay some or all of your bills, you have no choice but to write and, usually, to write on a regular basis.

It’s not always easy or enjoyable to write; yet, you have to show up, day in and day, and do the work.

Sometimes, you have nothing about which to write; nothing jumps out to you as interesting, perplexing, or riveting enough to explore and discuss.

You’re tempted to pump out a generic listicle or self-growth piece, but you fear losing your way as a writer and being called a sell-out.

Staring at a blank page, you start to panic and feel progressively worse about yourself as the lack of concrete results eats away at you.

You worry you’ll bore people if you write about the same ideas, questions, or topics too often.

You struggle with being vulnerable with your words on the one hand and wanting to shield yourself from an onslaught of criticism on the other.

You want to reach hundreds of thousands or even millions of people with your writing, but when you do, you become anxious whilst asking yourself questions like “Is this actually what’s best for me?”, “Am I going to be able to replicate this success, or am I just a one-hit wonder?”, and “Must I now write only about the subjects that made me go viral?”

You have to learn how to be an effective marketer, regardless of how much you dislike engaging in self-promotion.

You must introduce yourself to other writers and to potential clients, even if you’re a naturally shy person who dreads interacting with strangers.

And you have to try to strike the right balance between sharing too few and too many personal details about your life and the lives of your friends, family members, significant other, and colleagues.

Succeeding as a writer and staying emotionally balanced whilst doing so are difficult tasks to accomplish—no question about it.

Still, being a writer is amazing.

Never Forget How Lucky You Are to Be a Writer

I once wrote the following on LinkedIn:

“Whenever I start thinking, ‘Ugh, I need to write another new blog post’ or ‘I still have so many client emails to respond to’, I remind myself of the following: I’m not doing back-breaking labour, engaging in mind-numbing repetitive tasks, or working in a field I can’t stand in order to survive financially. I’m lucky enough to earn a living from merely sitting, thinking, and putting words to paper.”

This is still what I say to myself whenever I begin complaining about ‘having’ to write.

I try to picture how challenging, unfulfilling, monotonous, or dangerous it must be for people who earn their living working in mine shafts, going to war, slaughtering animals, doing telemarketing, cleaning up roadkill, doing waste disposal, dealing with grieving families, etc.

I’m not making any normative judgments about these (or other) jobs; I recognize that millions of people do the type of work they do out of necessity and not by choice.

It’s just that whenever I consider the kinds of work I’d likely be doing were I to have been born in a different time or place, I can’t help feeling extremely fortunate to earn money as a writer.

Human beings are a story-telling species; we’ve been creating and sharing narratives for as long as we could convey ideas between each other.

Some people—authors, bloggers, directors, painters, poets, public speakers, script writers, videographers, etc.—are lucky enough to earn an income telling stories.

Yes, being a writer is sometimes very difficult.

I know there are times when you want to give up, when you see others succeeding whilst you struggle, and when you bare your soul and nobody seems to care.

I understand what it’s like to experience writer’s block.

It’s painful to have your friends and family criticize your work and career choices and to have people misinterpret your words and then unjustly attack you for views you don’t even hold.

The precariousness of not knowing how much your next pay cheque will be can be overwhelming.

I get it—I really do.

But if you’re convinced that being a writer is what you’re meant to do with your life, and if you’re still able to pay your bills, even if that means barely scraping by at times, I encourage you to keep going.

Don’t give up, and don’t succumb to pessimism.

Even when you’re at your lowest point, try to remember how lucky you are to have a gig doing what you love. Ultimately, when it comes to work, that’s all any of us can ever hope for.

One last thing: Get more stories like this one here.



Nico Ryan

Ph.D. Candidate | Technical Writer-Editor | Philosopher | TikTok: | Website: | Newsletter: