What I Want for My Birthday


My birthday was yesterday.  In the lead up to the birthday I had all of the obligatory requests for gift ideas from my husband.  A week before said day arrived, I gave him my list of gift ideas.  It was a short list with only one thing.  “I want to quit my job and supplement our income by writing.”  You could have knocked him over with a feather and after the initial shock of my request wore off, I think he was actually a bit pissed off.  Needless to say, request denied.  Not because he doesn’t believe in my abilities or that I don’t write well, but I earn my living now in the world’s most secure profession, where article after article is written extolling the virtues of life in healthcare-I am a nurse.

Let’s clear a few things up about nursing and the healthcare field in general before we continue on.  Although I work for a private company doing home health nursing, I am nothing more than a glorified government employee.  Nearly every patient I see, every piece of paper I touch has been blessed in perpetuity by the United States government.  About 25% of what I do is patient care, the other 75% is compliance with some government program behemoth and I have had enough.

I first began writing for public consumption for my Jeep club newsletter, depicting the misadventures of families as they go forth in their Jeeps, meandering aimlessly through the woods, and the rather stupid things that were done, by highly educated people mind you, when we would go camping.  Our club was a mixture of blue collar families, middle management government employees, healthcare workers, contractors, advanced practice nurses and a world renowned pediatric surgeon.  All activities were fair game when it came time to publish the newsletter.  My highest accolade came from one of the clubs founders when he said, “I can’t wait to see how you get this down on paper.  When the newsletter gets here I immediately go into the bathroom to read it.”  When I heard that I thought if my writing qualifies as quality bathroom material, I may be on to something.

My writing was derailed however as I plowed my way through nursing school for sixteen months.  As a nursing student, nearly everything becomes less important.  But after sixteen months I prevailed with a newly minted nursing degree and I was off on life’s next big adventure.

There’s a secret in nursing that no one speaks openly about but I’ll let you in on it here.  There is no shortage of nurses.  Nurses are being cranked out of nursing schools left and right and jobs are scarce. It took me four months to land a job.  I took a job two hours from home and lived in a run down, mold infested mobile home for three days a week while I muddled through the first year to get the necessary experience to move into a job closer to home.  The job that brought me home turned out to not be so great and I escaped the confines of the hospital and moved into home health nursing.  Hospitals for nurses are like twelve hour prisons, you start at 6:45 and are confined to your floor for twelve straight hours, no lunch with friends at the local diner, no personal phone calls unless its an absolute emergency.  Home health allows you to make your own schedule based on the patient’s needs, you can start at 8, 9, 10 am and sometimes you’re done by noon.  What’s not to like?  The paperwork is not to like.  You might be done by noon but you’ll be charting until 6:00.  Whereas the hospital destroys your body, home health nursing destroys your car.  I’ve become more and more disenfranchised lately with healthcare as some of the new rules for reimbursements (how health related companies derives their money) have become more like penalties.  The pressure to perform has become a burden and I have grown weary of it.

This epiphany started in January of this year as I started pondering ways to escape my situation.  I began to read more and more about people earning extra income from writing.  I found some content mills, signed up, and started my freelance journey.  I stepped away for a while as my real job demands warranted more of my time.  But in June I needed to take a break from nursing, put some things in order around the house and I decided I would earn some cash from article writing.  I did earn about $200 for a whole month’s work but that was nowhere near what I need to earn.  And according to their expert editors, I still am not worthy enough of their higher rankings.  In July, I have been covering for two other nurses that have been on vacation and I am reminded, yet again, why I need to move forward with my writing.

I purchased someone’s e-book about writing letters to editors, writing for magazine’s, starting with smaller trade publications, all of which I could do.  I went so far as to make a spreadsheet of potential magazines I could contact to write for.  But I just have been unable to take that first step.  I am paralyzed by my fear of rejection.  I don’t know what it is but I cannot seem to move myself into that next realm of freelance writing.

So what would I do with a free subscription to Writer’s Den?  I would use the information there to shove myself violently out of my comfort zone and get serious about what it is I want to do with my life.  My job is flexible enough that I can start part time with writing and work my way up and out but I have GOT to get beyond my fear.  More reading and researching is not going to cure it because life’s greatest journeys start with the first unknown step.


13 thoughts on “What I Want for My Birthday

  1. I enjoyed your article and wish you luck. This post would be easier to share if it had a more descriptive title. You can’t change the title when you share on Facebook, and the first bit of the article that shows up doesn’t really say anything about the topic of the article either. You might want to add a subtitle that clarifies it a bit. For example: “What I Want for My Birthday: A New Career!”

    It sounds like you’ve been working with Textbroker. I too, tried for quite a while to move up from level 4 to level 5 with no success. I eventually found a client who paid me directly, and my income immediately increased. I now make $25-50 per hour from my writing, and it’s been about a year since I’ve written anything for Textbroker.

    You can do this. Your writing is strong, and there are people who will pay you what you are worth. Since you have a medical background, perhaps you could find a few doctors who need website content or a chiropractor who needs content written for his newsletter. You’ll have an advantage over other writers for this type of work because of your training and experience in nursing.

  2. Pingback: What Makes a Freelance Writer a Winner? The Den Contest Results

  3. Pingback: Who won a free year in the Freelance Writers Den — was it you? | The Renegade Writer

  4. Nothing convinces me of the value of the Writers Den more than reading the winners’ entries. This was a great blog – you convinced me both that you deserved to win and will probably make the most out of your year in the den – if it takes that long. Congratulations.

  5. I’m pulling for you! My impetus for becoming serious about writing was a story I secretly submitted to Chicken Soup, which was accepted! If Chicken Soup thought I was ok, I knew I could “be a writer.” So, now I AM a writer! I understand that you have to pay the bills. Every $200 helps! If you want to try for the Chicken Soup seal of approval, take what you learn in the Den, (where you have just been given a huge vote of confidence,) and submit your own story! http://www.chickensoup.com/form.asp?cid=submit_story Best wishes!

  6. Hey, Jenn,
    You can do it! If you need any help you got a friend in me that can help you. Even if you do get rejected you will eventually find and will receive that acceptance letter. Nursing magazines are always looking for articles to get you started. Once you start there is no stopping you!

  7. Congratulations on winning the Freelance Writers Den contest – a whole year! – woowie! Also thanks for letting us in on the secrets about the nursing ‘shortage’ and good luck making all your dreams come true. Best Wishes!

  8. Congraulations on the win; you’re certainly a very worthy winner!

    Fear is such a terrible thing for us creatives and it can really hold you back. I’m 7 months into my full-time freelancing career and always get the jitters when starting a new project. There’s always the worry that what I write won’t be up to scratch. My advice is to just do it. Ignore the fear, or use it to drive you, and just start tapping away. Remember that you won’t get anywhere if you don’t try.

    Good luck!

  9. I sing your song. Only I was forced, in a way, out of my job as a remodeler when the real estate market went to pot and the construction industry stood still. I said to my husband, I’m 50 years old and if I’m gonna be poor, let me be poor writing! My husband was a physical therapist years ago and left the profession after home care was, as you said, more about the paperwork and corporate greed than it was about the patient.
    So far, I am plugging. This is as hard as any job I’ve done and so far I’ve got only a few clips under my belt and hundreds of hours of learning the craft including the business end of writing. It’s slow going.
    Glad you won The Writer’s Den contest. Grab it and go and please, write another post about your experience again – we’d all love to hear how much you’ve grown in a year!

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