When I didn’t land my dream job, I started to doubt my ability to write for a living. But then I started making small changes that eventually led to me getting a pretty cool full-time writing job (and a few side gigs to supplement it).
Here’s what I stopped doing when I realized my current habits and mindset weren’t working.
1. Writing generic cover letters. There are a few things employers look for in a cover letter. But I’ve come to believe that those looking to hire writers — depending on the organization and setting, of course — aren’t looking for traditional introductions to who you are.
I now write my cover letters like I’d write a blog post. I almost have fun writing them. And that’s how I show prospective clients/employers my personality and writing expertise.
2. Ignoring my interests outside of writing. For a long time, I was under the impression that to be really good at writing, I could only focus on writing. The problem is, there are other things in life besides your craft that make you better at what you do. Like watching Star Wars movies, for example.
Employers are looking for people who are enthusiastic about both their personal and professional interests. If you can turn an interest into an interesting hobby, that often makes you a more marketable writer.
3. Trying not to sound “braggy.” Listen. If there’s one time it’s OK to sound like you know everything there is to know about writing, it’s the writing job application process. People want to hire writers who aren’t just skilled, but confident and knowledgeable as well.
The whole point of reaching out to people about your writing is to tell them about your accomplishments and experiences. Flaunt them like you’ve never flaunted them before.
4. Believing every job had to be exactly like my dream job. I wasted a lot of time looking for jobs with descriptions that almost matched the one I wanted. But there’s a reason I didn’t get that job. I didn’t have the right experience … yet. And there were a lot of jobs that could give me that experience.
You never know the unexpected things you’ll learn from a job seemingly unrelated to the job you really want. Be open to different experiences and random opportunities within and outside of your job.
5. Worrying about everything happening “right now.” When I was 23, I worried about not landing my dream writing job by 25. When I turned 25, I realized that some writers don’t “make it” until they’re almost 50. What difference does it make?
You’re going to get there when you get there. Focus on doing everything well and making small improvements over time instead of trying to “grow up” too fast.
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.