A friend asked me today how my writing was coming along. When I tried to explain that I thought nobody liked it, he blindsided me with this: “Have you not spent the last six months being paid to write?”
Over the past few months, I’ve let myself slide a little. The magazine I was writing for had a bad habit of giving vague assignments and forgetting to specify deadlines, so we stumbled through a lot of miscommunications. To make it worse, I never heard back about articles I submitted. A cheque would arrive in the mail and that would be all I saw from the article at all. No requests for revision, no pointers on what could maybe be polished next time. I know I can’t possibly be such a good writer that my work doesn’t need some refining every now and then. That should just be par for the course, I thought.
Anyway, that somehow snowballed into me thinking I couldn’t do any writing properly. It was that or conclude that I must be a magical writing fairy who never makes mistakes and I knew that couldn’t be it.
I took it hard. Not all at once, of course. It was a sort of gradual crunching up, going a little more fetal every day as I asked people for work, and eventually started pleading. It was bad.
I knew something had to be done, so I started looking around for some help. I’d signed up for the waiting list at the Freelance Writers Den* a while ago, but had no idea what to expect there, so when they opened a few positions to new members, I paid the membership fee hesitantly. What could I possibly gain from a gated community that I couldn’t find for free elsewhere?
Anyway, I joined despite my reservations and set to asking questions. Most of them were probably very stupid questions, born of almost nonexistent confidence and a desperate need for work. The magazine I mentioned earlier was running way late with some cheques, so I needed to do something for money, but even more importantly, I desperately needed to do something that would get appreciated.
But all of that desperation and hopelessness got smashed by that simple question. It got me thinking. How long am I going to spend trying to get clues from “the successful?” I could waste months learning and never get anywhere because the more I read about these other writers making six figures, the more I thought I’d never be able to do everything they did.
So, this is me getting off my ass. I learned everything I needed to know to sell my writing when I got my first assignment. Letting other people get between me and that knowledge is just another way to give up on my dreams.
* That’s my affiliate link to the Freelance Writer’s Den. If you’re a freelance writer or you’re thinking of becoming one, the Den has a ton of resources that have more than paid off for me already. It’s worth checking out if you’re serious about moving up.