Making your passion your career can ruin your passion

Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

As people grow up as aspiring artists, they learn three things:

These messages seem contradictory until they consider the solution: Make their hobbies their careers.

Makes sense, right? You enjoy drawing? Become an illustrator. You like writing? Become an author or copywriter. Cake decorating is your passion? Open a bakery. It’s the perfect world solution. You get to do what you love and get paid for it. After all, you’re going to spend so much time drawing, writing, or baking. May as well earn money, right?

Well, no.

For one, all…

I won Nanowrimo for the first and last time. Here’s why the challenge wasn’t right for me.

Photo by Fred Kearney on Unsplash

Nanowrimo, AKA National Novel Writing Month, is an annual challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November. In just 30 days, writers attempt to complete a short novel. They may also succeed in creating a daily writing habit since you need to write about 1,666 words a day to win. Sounds like a great challenge, right? Especially for new writers who often need an external deadline to finish that elusive first draft.

So I signed up. And I deeply regret it.

I made three major mistakes

1. Winning was my only option

To me, Nanowrimo seemed like a miracle cure. Writing 50K words in just one month could be…

Hint: The iconic photo is not what it seems.

Wilson’s iconic photo of the alleged Loch Ness Monster
Wilson’s iconic photo of the alleged Loch Ness Monster
The Iconic Photo of the Alleged Loch Ness Monster| Photo credits to Robert Kenneth Wilson

Of all the urban legends, the Loch Ness Monster was the one that always intrigued me. Perhaps this is because I was introduced to it by National Geographic Kids Magazine at a young age. Perhaps because the prospect of a sea creature was more bewitching than a yeti or Big Foot. After all, anything could exist in those murky depths, right? So many waters have yet to be explored, so in theory, the Nessie could be real.

As a slightly more skeptical adult, I decided to explore reopen this myth and to delve into what is known and what is…

An insight into the angsty mind of a young aspiring novelist.

Photo by Nicholas Kwok on Unsplash

Three years ago, I was rewriting a novel I had begun in high school. I was 20 and as you’d expect, I had no clue what I was doing. I had written a lot at that point, but revising was a whole other skill I hadn’t developed.

So I turned to the internet for advice. One bit of wisdom was to warm up before a writing session by scribbling down my thoughts for a few minutes. …


I took the famous Masterclass. Here’s how it can help you too.

Photo: Masterclass

Neil Gaiman has created a name for himself beyond his numerous works. He is the eccentric inspiration for many aspiring writers. Although he has spoken about creativity in multiple interviews and his ‘Make Good Art’ speech, now all of his tips are organized and laid out for his fans to enjoy.

So, first off: Is the class worth your time?

The answer is yes.

This isn’t the type of run-of-the-mill content you’ll find on many writing platforms across the internet that seemed to regurgitate the same advice, like write every day, start the story with a bang, and avoid adverbs. Gaiman delves into the inner process of writing. Yes…

We were technically childhood friends, but hours of commuting changed everything.

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We had known each other all our lives but we became friends twenty years later, on the subway. We were both interns. I was copywriting for a startup company. She was working for a cartoon network. She joked about how I was doing unpaid ‘real work’ while she was getting money to be bored and occasionally watch kid shows.

We didn’t talk about work much on our commute. She would pick me up in the morning and drive to Finch Station. Then we would fumble for TTC tokens or loose change while balancing thermoses. Mine contained coffee; hers had a…

When he interviewed interns, my coworker always asked this vital question

Photo: Adobe Stock

I was terrified and shy during my first internship. The office was open-concept, which allowed me to meet my fellow writers and the video team, which was led by a character I’ll call Sam. He was outspoken, funny, and he taught me something I will remember for the rest of my life.

When Sam would interview new interns for his team, I would overhear most of the conversation since my seat was close to the meeting area. I noticed that Sam would always ask about the person’s goal. …

There’s true wisdom in the most hated piece of writing advice

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

‘Write what you know’ is a common piece of writing advice, and it is perhaps the most misunderstood.

Many people dismiss this quote, especially fantasy and sci-fi writers. In a flippant tone, they say something like, “If a person hasn’t met aliens before, does that mean he shouldn’t write about them? Should someone who has never time traveled or visited a fairy realm use such settings? Guess murder thrillers are off the table, along with any career choices that don’t include our own. This advice is useless, isn’t it?”

Except, that’s not what ‘write what you know’ means.

Readers’ suspension of disbelief has a limit

There are…

I used 5 tricks to write alongside a job and daily life.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

It took me four years to complete the first draft of my first novel. I started it in high school and finished it a year after graduating. My second novel took five weeks to write. I had no school or job at that point, so I wrote like a fiend.

When it came to writing my third book, I was nervous. I wanted to replicate the writing frenzy of my second book, but now I had many more obligations. I couldn’t stop everything to eke out this draft. …

As a budding writer, I thought I had to suffer for my art. Then my creativity died.

Photo by Aliyah Jamous on Unsplash

My first short story was about a personified version of Death visiting a sick girl in a hospital and taking her life.

I wrote it in ninth grade during a boring English class and it spooked my carpool on the way home that day. I enjoyed the reactions as much as I enjoyed writing that piece.

“The Visitor” wasn’t the first story I had written, but it was a gamechanger. I had recently discovered that people were behind the books I cherished. Somehow that never occurred to me. Although I had written in the past, now I wrote with the…

Sarah C. Schafer

Freelance writer/editor. I write novels, short stories, and essays. See more of my work on

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