One of my main goals in keeping this blog is that I never imply to any reader that I have all the answers or know everything there is to know about writing.
I have always believed, and always will, that skilled writers never stop learning. So when I started my first full-time writing job, I showed up on my first day knowing I still had a lot to learn. And I was right.
I’ve learned plenty of important things that anyone can apply to their own writing endeavors. Whether you consider yourself a rising professional in the field or you just like to write for fun, some of these lessons might help you approach your work with a more realistic — but still optimistic — outlook.
1. Half the job is all about experimentation
There is no formula that guarantees something you write will always get the clicks or shares you think it deserves. Life would be a lot less stressful if there were. But the truth is, sometimes, you have to start throwing ideas against the wall at random to figure out what gets results and what doesn’t. And even then, often what you think will work will not — and the other way around.
If you want to succeed in writing, you have to dare to experiment. You can’t worry about failing or about being judged. You just have to let whatever”s going to happen, happen.
2. Sometimes you have to wait for things to take off (if they ever do)
Instant gratification does not exist in the writing world. Waiting is an essential part of the job. You wait for people to email you back. You wait for scheduled projects to be released. You publish something with more excitement than you know what to do with — and almost always, if it’s received well, you also have to wait to find that out.
It’s slow, and it’s hard to have patience when you feel like you’re trying to solve a problem that doesn’t have a clear solution. But you have to learn to live with that.
3. As long as you’re writing to the best of your ability, you’re doing fine
There is only so much you can actually control when it comes to your content. You can write it, edit it, format it, and present it in a way that’s appealing and persuasive. But in the grand scheme of things, that’s about it. You can’t force people to click, to subscribe, to care. Sometimes that makes it seem like you’re putting a lot of hard work into things no one will ever read. That’s just part of the deal.
There is also only so much feedback other people can give you. They don’t have all the answers, either. This is why they call it “the grind.” You keep working until it pays off, no matter what.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.
5 thoughts on “3 Things I Learned Writing for a Media Company Full-Time”
Excellent article, I think number 2 is especially important as I’ve seen so many people start blogs and then give them up after a few months because they didn’t get the followers or likes or comments. Everything is expected to be instant now.
Exactly. Sometimes I find myself starting at a tweet like, “Why didn’t anyone like that? Is it a bad tweet?” I think we’ve fallen into that line of thinking, but have to constantly remind ourselves it’s irrational and just let things play out as they will.
It’s so easy to mistakenly believe that just because something doesn’t “take off”, it was a mistake to do it. Even when we don’t gain anything else, we always learn. And I think it’s easy in our culture to confuse “financial success” with value.
Even in my personal life, sometimes I try something new and realize I never want to try that again, but that doesn’t make it a mistake. 😊
Very true! E.g., every time I make a video. Is it a bad video? Who knows, but if I just stop trying to do better, I’ll never get better. The only way to develop a skill is to practice consistently and allow yourself to learn.
Mmm. It’s all about the journey. And, as long as you keep making new things, it doesn’t matter whether any one piece is good or not, because you’re already better than that piece. You’re on to bigger and better things.