How I Almost Destroyed My Writing Career Before It Even Started

Don’t be like me.

My senior year of college, I wrote a mission statement for a grade. And for a long time before and after that, I didn’t take it seriously.

I even changed my Twitter bio. “Helping you [people] learn to live a smarter, healthier life.”

I wanted to do that through writing. Because of course I did. Writing was my “thing.”

But for a long time, I couldn’t fulfill that mission. Because I kept trying to fill my resume with as much “relevant experience” as I could fit onto a single page.

That meant I worked 50+ hours a week writing things I didn’t particularly enjoy. And because my schedule was always so full, I had a really hard time meeting deadlines. I’d procrastinate to the extreme and fail to turn my work in on time (surprisingly, my biggest pet peeve).

I couldn’t juggle all my writing responsibilities for all my clients, or my blog, or my personal projects.

It almost destroyed my career before it even had the chance to take off.

Because people don’t like it when you’re so over-committed that you can’t meet a deadline. Believe it or not, proving you can manage a healthy work-life balance is a highly desirable trait.

I did not have a good handle on that.

Trying to be a “superwriter” almost ruined everything. But it taught me an important lesson.

You do not have to do it all. In fact, you can’t. You shouldn’t try.

There are moments when I have to advocate for the #riseandgrind life, because the writing space is competitive and you have to do a lot of good work before you can truly succeed.

But this idea that you have to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, is ridiculous. At one point, I believed that was what was expected of me, because I hadn’t found any good examples of anyone doing otherwise.

So I hope someday I can set a good example for aspiring writers who’ve fallen into this trap. I’m not there yet. But I’m working on it.

I’m doing my very best to get back onto a schedule that allows me to work longer hours Monday through Friday, but forces me to spend Saturdays and Sundays resting.

I’m trying as hard as I can to erase goals and commitments that don’t align with my “mission” or provide me some form of stress relief or health benefit.

Because I want to spend the rest of my life writing content that informs and entertains other people. And I can’t do that if I sacrifice my health or happiness for the sake of “doing more.”

The work you do won’t matter if you wear yourself down trying to make it happen.

Work hard, but not all the time. Always work smart. And most importantly, write the things you want to write. Don’t give up that luxury because you’re “too busy” or “too distracted.” You deserve better than that. And so does the world.

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.

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10 thoughts on “How I Almost Destroyed My Writing Career Before It Even Started

  1. I believe only special circumstances allow certain writers to be able to write 24/7 each day of a year and it almost always has to do with the fact that they have someone else to completely take care of financial needs/home life without their help. Even so, it’s difficult to split your mind in several portions to cover too many things at once. It can take a toll not only on your writing but your mental and emotional health, too. It’s best to stick to realistic goals, including how many goals you aim to accomplish in a logical amount of time.

    1. Yeah, that whole “how many goals you aim to accomplish” thing? I’m bad at that. And I’m still working on it! I have been writing seriously for, sigh, over a decade, and there’s still a lot to learn and improve upon. I definitely think too many people stress about trying to be and do everything too quickly, too consistently.

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