My name is Josh Feierman, and I’m a writer.
Not so long ago, those would have been frightening words. You see, when we say we are something, we feel it comes with certain responsibilities. If I say “I’m a doctor,” people are probably going to ask where I went to medical school, what I specialize in, etc. If I say “I’m a computer programmer,” people might ask what languages I know, platforms, etc. So if I say “I’m a writer,” what might people ask?
I don’t have any books published (yet), nor any big magazine contracts or newspaper columns. I have written a number of technical articles in my current field of employment, namely database development. But until recently, I was of the mind that was somehow not enough. Until I had “made it”, to claim I was a writer was somehow presumptuous of me. People might look at me and say, “How dare he call himself a writer? He’s barely written anything, let along paying the bills by writing!” That fear held me back, and kept me from saying out loud what I’ve known for some time: I am a writer.
Then I read a wonderful book, You Are a Writer(aff link), by Jeff Goins. It shifted my thinking drastically. The passage that hit home with me immediately was where Jeff told the story of how he once said to a friend how his dream was to be a writer. His friend’s reply set off bells.
Jeff, you don’t have to want to be a writer. You are a writer. You just need to write.
Suddenly my fear left me. Jeff’s friend was right; we are writers because we write. Not because of some external definition, like having a book with your name on it, or earning some nominal level of income by writing. We are writers because of what we do.
With that realization, I decided to come out guns blazing. I resolved to write daily, be public about my goals, and hold myself to them. I want to be a writer, so I choose to write. A lot.
In my case though, writing also has a secondary goal: freedom. You see, I love writing so much that I’d like to be able to devote myself full time to it, with perhaps a little consulting on the side in my current realm of database technology. I’d like to be free to spend as much time with my children as I wish, seeing them off to school in the morning and welcoming them home after. I never want to miss a soccer game or a play because of work. I want to devote more time to helping others through charity and volunteer work. This is the kind of freedom that comes only with being financially independent and working for yourself.
My family and I have been fortunate. I have a good, well paying job that I love, and we are frugal with our money. My amazing entrepreneur wife manages to take care of our two young children while still running a business selling things on eBay and Amazon. We are in a good place, financially speaking. Not at all in a Scrooge McDuck diving into piles of gold way, but we are in a place of safety. At the same time, I don’t feel that I can just up and quit my job tomorrow and fling caution to the wind. As much as I love writing, I care more about providing for my family. Nothing is more important to me than keeping the roof over our heads, food on the table, and going to bed at night with a peaceful mind. So for now, the dream of full time writing isn’t realistic.
But that isn’t going to stop me from working towards that goal. I want to keep it in the front of my mind at all times, to work towards it with all I can, to give all the hustle I have. So here’s my deal: every cent I make from writing outside of normal expenses (like the computer I’m writing this on) is going towards that dream, either in the form of savings / investments, or towards paying off our remaining debt. Both of those are crucial pieces to the puzzle; debt is like a chain hanging around your neck, forcing you to continue working when perhaps you’d rather not (I’m fortunate enough to not be in that camp, as I said I do love my job), and without enough savings to generate passive income and cover your expenses, you must continue to trade your labor for money.
I am a writer, and this is my story.
Some of the Things I Write About
In my day job I work with SQL Server, so I write technical articles on that subject from time to time.