Financial expert Dave Ramsey has a philosophy that people have different personality types when it comes to managing money. “Nerds” are the ones who like creating a financial budget, sticking to it, and keeping a close eye on the finances because it gives them a sense of security. “Free spirits” don’t like to be constrained by the budget and have more of a “I want to live life to the fullest—we’ll figure out how to make more money!” attitude.
In our house, my husband is definitely the nerd most of the time with our finances and I’m more the free spirit. He’s always had a practical approach to money although he does have a free spirit side that sneaks in occasionally. I feel like it has something to do with the way we were both raised—his family had to stick to a firm budget and his mom thought nothing of shopping at four different grocery stores to hit all the weekly sales. My parents should have been sticking to a budget but had more of the “We need new furniture even if we can’t really afford it!” attitude which got into trouble more often that I’d like to remember.
While I was thinking over these financial attitudes about money recently, it struck me that I also consider myself a “free spirit” when it comes to my writing. This is probably why I’m not a published novelist yet. I wrote my first few books without even a glimmer of an outline and only recently learned the beauty of outlining and storyboarding BEFORE starting a full-length novel. With my true crime podcast, I don’t have a year’s worth of episodes planned out even six months ahead of time—instead, I brainstorm different themes for the show and then sort of back my way into them as I’m researching. I also try to plan content for my writing blog but fail time and again at keeping a consistent posting schedule. I have a daily gratitude journal but often find myself distracted and skip writing in it at least twice a week.
I’ve interviewed writers over the years who consistently hit a word count goal each day, outline several novels at a time and have a detailed spreadsheet where they keep track of their submissions, acceptances, and rejections. They treat every aspect of their writing like a business, and they are way more successful than I’ll ever hope to be.
There is some hope for this free spirit, though. I can honestly say the few fiction contests I’ve placed in were the ones where I sat down and wrote a story without stopping to overthink it or spend hours of time editing and revising it yet. When I have hard and fast deadlines (and in my day job as a magazine editor, I have plenty) I get my work done. I like to think my podcast episodes turn out well once I finally turn all the research into a coherent script.
I’m interested to learn how many readers here considers themselves writing “nerds” or “free spirits.” Am I in good company? Is there hope for a “free spirit” to have successful creative writing career?