We live in a culture where millennial ideals are often in opposition to an unstable economy. Most journalism grads understand that the months following graduation will no doubt seem like a never-ending parade of tedious positions and unethical contracts. We may reel and we may rally but the low-paying, menial tasks eventually take their toll on formerly gleeful alumni.
Understandably, writers are often reluctant to take these seemingly pointless positions for fear that they may fall victim to this pattern. However, what’s lost in this perceived array of drudgery and disappointment is the benefit that comes from suffering in a job you hate. That’s right, we’ve missed the beauty of suffering. So how can we suffer successfully?
First, stop complaining and close your mouth. Be open to the criticism you receive and observe your co-workers. Eventually, the inexorable sound of your own creativity will inevitably start screaming and begging to be let out of your skull and onto paper. Often the positions we detest are the key ingredients that tone and hone our literary skills – any creative minded individual naturally desires to make things interesting and in a monotonous office setting that means pushing at boundaries. When you push, you begin to challenge yourself, and when you challenge yourself, your writing always improves.
Second, be eager and selfish with knowledge and experience, they are a writer’s most valuable import and the world’s most abundant export. It’s often said ‘write what you know’ and the more you know, the more you will have to write.
Lastly, leave when the time is right. Learning from a job is not the same as staying in a job. It’s important to leave any position that no longer abrades your naivety and augments your experience. Be intuitive and discerning about leaving, but always be brave enough to move on.
Ultimately, nothing is more self-enlightening than how you handle the stresses and constraints that revolve around your own goals as a writer. When we are struggling to prove we have a voice, or when we are trying to figure out what our voice will be, we are at our best. And sometimes the most unlikely position is exactly where you’ll find your voice.
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Joe’l is a former public relations filly, currently writing and living in the South.