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Oh, No! I Burned Out!

I had a good week, and then...

By Steven Christopher McKnightPublished 16 days ago 3 min read
Oh, No! I Burned Out!
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Oh no! What happened? I was doing so well! I’m never going to make ends meet as a freelance author at this point! To explain, the first five days or so of February, while I was fully invested in creating new and amazing content every day, commenting on people’s stories, earning top stories and bonuses—What went wrong? How could I let that slip away? However will I get to twenty million views at this rate? Must the pressures of being a Master’s student always get in the way of the quarter of a dollar per day I am trying to make? It’s sad, honestly. So sad.

To put things in perspective, since the beginning of February, I have published nine stories. Two of them have been Top Stories. (I’m glad my conversation with a robot charmed all of you so much, as did my curmudgeonly response to so many Instagram reels being sent to me. Though some friends have taken the opportunity to redouble their efforts in sending me Instagram reels.) For some reason, several of them have been marked with a content warning. (Vocal, what, pray tell, merits a content warning about One Piece?) Some have drastically underperformed, to my dismay. (I put so much effort into Tinder Travesties. Why did it take so long to approve, Vocal? What was so morally objectionable about it?) I was the third-most newly subscribed-to creator on Vocal last week, and received a $5, too! It was a good week! So why am I struggling so much to keep this up?

Writing is hard, y’all. Being a member of a community is hard as well. There’s a lot of emotional and intellectual labor that goes into it, and I don’t know how to show it. I want to offer comments beyond the typical “Cool beans, bro, keep up the amazing work!” I get it. It rings hollow. I grade for university classes; I try my best to comment outside that. And I’m so happy when I receive thoughtful responses from new creators as well, after putting in the labor to comment on their stuff. But I don’t know. Is it worth $0.25/day? If we add up all of my earnings on Vocal for the month of February, including the three bonuses I received, that’s around $17.50. For the ten hours or so I invested into Vocal the first week of February, that’s $1.75/hour. I can make a better rate at a weekend job. But I don’t want to do that; I want to write.

I feel like if I could dedicate myself to this craft part-time—or even, hell, casually, for that matter—I could very easily begin to make a good casual income. Whether or not that income is as passive as I’d like it to be depends on how easily I can bring in readers without expending much effort. But that’s manipulative, isn’t it? If this is a community of writers, and if my goal is to have a place in that community, then why am I so dead set on receiving without providing? Why do I so desperately want to write an article, post it, maybe share it on a couple of socials, and then receive applause and acclaim for doing nothing to actually contribute to the community of creatives that Vocal attempts to cultivate? The desire for passive income also comes with a desire for isolation, at least from the labor of contributing to the lives of the people who donate their attention to you.

Anyway, long story short, I’ve burnt out. I am still trying to write, but other pressing matters have claimed my attention—graduate school, for instance. Maybe I’ll reach a new Renaissance after I’m done with this thesis of mine, but we’ll see.

As always, thank you so much for reading. If you want to help me never have to work again, consider reading this next article:

If you want to watch me bully a robot, read this one instead!

Stream of Consciousness

About the Creator

Steven Christopher McKnight

Disillusioned twenty-something, future ghost of a drowned hobo, cryptid prowling abandoned operahouses, theatre scholar, prosewright, playwright, aiming to never work again.

Venmo me @MickTheKnight

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Comments (5)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran15 days ago

    I'm so sorry 🥺 That is why I don't write or post very often, because it is so mentally exhausting! You need to take a break. Hope you feel better soon!

  • S. C. Almanzar15 days ago

    Cool beans, bro, keep up the amazing work! No but seriously, burnout is so real, especially being a Master's student at the same time. We already have boatloads of required reading and writing, so it can be hard to muster up the strength to do so of our own free will as well. I'm currently debating granting myself another semester to finish my thesis so that I can avoid the dreaded burnout.

  • Brin J.16 days ago

    Relatable. I’m getting burnt out too. Working on my book outside of Vocal, working in general… there’s only so much energy I can give to this community right now, but that doesn’t mean I’m not here 😭. It’s hard to balance a busy schedule with the social aspects and reciprocation that comes with Vocal. Even my days off I spend on errands, my book, and whatever else I can fit in. I’m burning out too, but idc about the earnings. I’m trying not to loose friends in the processes. 🥺

  • Kendall Defoe 16 days ago

    I get it... Writing rarely pays the bills. Even big-name figures will tell you that luck has to come with a lot of hard work. I have made more in Top Story wins than reads, and it is well below Stephen King's income. But I still do it... I work for a college and another company teaching by contract in-person and online. I have debts to cover, hopes I cannot shake, and an addiction to books, my guitar, running and...future success. I could not give this up if I wa Ted to. So, if you are burnt out, I get it. But please come back one day. One fan wants to read more... 📚

  • Babs Iverson16 days ago

    Superbly written!!! Very relatable!!! Loved it!!!♥️♥️💕

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