Confessions from a Frustrated Vocationalist


Hi all,

This is going to be more of a confession from a frustrated “vocationalist” than a useful pointer for anybody else, and probably not very constructive. I’ll be asking for prayers and / or advice by the time its over.

I didn’t become a convinced Christian till I was 28 (Presbyterian), and I was over 40 when I became Catholic, so the word “vocation” is a late acquisition to my practical vocabulary, not being heard much in Protestant or atheist circles. I also associate it with religious life or marriage to the exclusion of just about everything else, although I think it should have a much wider ambit than that. I am married, so at least that part of the “vocational” paradigm is settled.

Now “careers” (or the lack of them) have been the bane of my life. My father completely and deliberately destroyed my confidence when I was younger, and I developed depression which was later helped by taking Prozac. Hence I missed opportunites I should have taken, and found study very difficult after leaving school, so I don’t have formal qualifications.

Most of my experience has been either administration based (government, project coordinator) or small scale logistics (postal, courier, community transport). However I have a gift for writing (or I think I do), and at one stage a voice just cut clear across my thoughts and said, “Bob, what’s WRONG with being a writer!?” It didn’t come from me, because I wanted a trade or some sort of technical vocation. Even my psychiatrist thinks I should “write”.

But I’ve been resisting it. Moreover I’m involved in several other things - Saint Vincent de Paul Society, Toastmasters, a local ambulance committee, JP Qualified (Notary Public to US readers, but voluntary), masters (field) hockey, and I work full time, plus of course mass and church requirements (my wife goes to a Baptist Church, which means an additional service or two on other occasions). In short, I’m overcommitted. Then there’s the dog, the yard, the house etc. CAF wives will recognise a whiney husband.:whistle:

For those of you who might have similar problems, or have been through it all, and in particular if you “write”, I’d appreciate your prayers, and advice if any, so that I -

  1. Stop procrastinating and start writing.
  2. Find out what I’m supposed to write about.
  3. Just get more disciplined and organised.

Anybody got any suggestions?



I write. It’s nothing that I can live off of, but I do it because I want to/need to/like to.

I’m currently reading William Cobbett’s “Advice to Young Men”. The thing about William Cobbett (1763-1835) was that he was a prolific writer. He was talking about how he would write during his army days, “amidst the talking, laughing, singing, whistling and brawling of at least half a score of the most thoughtless of men”. And how he would take money out of his food allowance to buy ink, paper, and pen, even to the point of going hungry.

He also made the good point about perseverance.

The most effectual means of security against this mortifying result is to lay down a rule to write or to read a certain fixed quantity every day, Sunday excepted. Our minds are not always in the same state; they have not, at all times, the same elasticity; to-day we are full of hope on the very same grounds which, to-morrow, afford us no hope at all: every human being is liable to those flows and ebbs of the mind; but, if reason interfere, and bid you overcome the fits of lassitude, and almost mechanically to go on without the stimulus of hope, the buoyant fit speedily returns; you congratulate yourself that you did not yield to the temptation to abandon your pursuit, and you proceed with more vigour than ever. Five or six triumphs over temptation to indolence or despair lay the foundation of certain success; and, what is of still more importance, fix in you the habit of perseverance.

So, if you want to write, there’s no magic “make a book” button to push, just like someone who wants to create art doesn’t have a magic “make art” button to push. :slight_smile: It’s a lot of hard work and dedication. So— set aside a certain period of time each day to accomplish a certain goal, whether it’s reading the sort of things you’d like to write, or writing your own. Give yourself a goal, pray for inspiration, and hold yourself accountable at the end. But don’t just sit in your chair until lightning strikes— start setting down ideas, and brainstorming, and laying your foundations, and a direction will present itself much more quickly than if you just stared at a blank Word document. Keep working at your normal, ordinary tasks, but keep your writing always humming along in the back of your head, and always have something close by to jot down memory-jogs to yourself for when you’re able to settle down in front of your writing again.

Good luck!


If you aren’t driven to write, you aren’t a writer, you’re a wanna be. I’m a horribly lazy, procrastinating writer, but I do write enough to get paid, tho it’s not enough to live on. I used to feel more driven to write - I couldn’t stand being stuck somewhere without paper & pen to record what was going on around me or in my head. Somewhere along the line I lost that drive. If it doesn’t come back, I’m going to stop calling myself a writer.


These are mine.

Get a journal and keep it with you constantly. When you have any thought during the day that you think you might like to write about later, jot it down.
Set aside a time each day - at least 30 minutes - NOT before bed (you’ll keep shoving that off - make it a deliberate time of day).
Find a specific spot where you cannot be distracted and turn off your phone.
Write in your journal. Write anything. Write what you see, what you think, expand on an earlier though - anything.
Keep going at this until it is a habit.

You’ll develop habits from this, but you need to start somewhere, and the place to start is to make writing part of your daily routine. If you like to write, then it’s about making the written word part of your regular communication.

If you miss a day, go back to it the next day. You’ll find you falter a few times, but if it is your calling, you’ll get there.


Hi all,

Thanks for your advice and encouragement.

It seems to boil down to two main items - getting disciplined enough to set aside a set time to write, brainstorm etc. And the other one appears to be to keep a journal (as opposed to a diary).

I did start keeping a journal at one point, but I found I was just going over the same old negative, angry thoughts. I got fed up with it, and stopped.

But maybe it’s time to start again and get serious about it.

Meanwhile any further advice would be welcome.


I’ve never been good at keeping a journal, but I’m very good at writing letters. So that’s how I start out my articles if I’m stuck - I get a picture of someone in my mind & start writing a letter. Sometimes I’ve even started with dear so & so. :slight_smile:

I don’t know if you write fiction or non-fiction, but writing letters to yourself or an imaginary person about what you think of the daily news, what’s going on in your life (fictional or real), or whatever, might be a way to jump start your writing.

One of my aunts used to go out to her garden & she’d end up with cute children’s stories & poems about the frogs, birds, rabbits, & whatever she saw.


Thanks for the idea about letter writing. I don’t have much trouble writing short stories, but I fade away when it comes to novel writing.

So maybe a letter to someone about writing a novel?.. I might even follow my own advice!:hmmm:


Why not start with short stories, if that’s what you enjoy writing? Lots of famous authors write short stories, and they can be as challenging (if not more challenging) than novels.


Hi Bob
I don’t have any suggestions nor advice, but will put your intentions into daily prayer.

God bless and may The Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you…


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit