I saw the phrase "Don't wish for it, work for it" on social media somewhere last week. I don't even remember where I saw it, but the phrase really stuck with me. From some googling I found the phrase possibly began as a meme from the fitness/working out scene, a context of which I have no experience or opinion. But of course I applied the phrase to my writing.
The phrase initially stuck with me because for the first time in my life I am in a position to work for my writing in a quality way.
In the past "working for it" basically meant bleeding ink to survive. I can't believe some of the things I have endured in my life and kept going only because I had words written on a piece of paper shoved in my pocket.
And those days were important. I was broke and sick and in pain and worried about fulfilling my basic needs. But I was working on my craft, learning, building, gathering experience and fixing my shortcomings as a writer.
Now I feel so grateful that though I'm still broke and I still live with my chronic conditions, many things about my life are much more stable: I have a secure home, I have a Day Job that I love, my health is more manageable than it has been in the past, and the years of work I have already put in has made me a more effective and productive writer.
In the past "working for it" meant investing a lot of time and energy I barely had to make a tiny bit of progress. Working for it meant working past exhaustion and beyond my limits. It made things very difficult.
Now when I work on my writing, I have the energy. I have the time. My time is productive. The energy I put in, I get just as much value out.
But then one day this week I woke up and knew I was sick. I was feeling feverish and in pain. Another flare up from my body's battle with chronic infections.
And the thought flickered through my mind: Don't Wish For It, Work For It.
But for the first time in my life I knew that not to mean pushing myself past breaking to get out a few words. I knew that to mean I had to take care of myself.
That day I ended up leaving my Day Job early because I was so sick. I went home and slept. I ate healthy food. I drank hot tea and read a little. I jotted down a couple ideas for a title of a WIP. I didn't even try to type anything on my daily word count goal. I went to bed again so I could make it to work the next day.
And for the first time in my life even though I didn't force myself to work, I felt like I had still accomplished something. I was working for it.
Don't Wish For It, Work For It brings out a lot of complicated feelings. When you are poor and sick and it feels like life is suffocating you, the phrase can feel defeating or downright insulting. Yet, as a person who has to live with these things, I know that I do have to work often when I don't feel well or when other worries are scratching on the locked door in my mind.
I don't have a one size answer for everyone. Managing your life and health as you continue to create is working for it. Saying no when you have nothing left to give is working for it. Embracing the good and doing as much as you can when things are going well is working for it.
I've set new boundaries for my body. I let myself off the hook more often when I'm not well but I have to put in more effort on my good days.
I do believe that you must not wish for it, you must work for it, whatever "it" is. But your perspective on what that means will grow and change.
Be kind. Focus on a foundation. Take care of yourself. And every once in a while make a wish... Then get to work.