When Your Hard Work Goes Unnoticed (Again)

Everyone starts at the bottom.


Yesterday, scrolling through my Facebook feed, I saw a health expert, who I’ve followed for a few years now, post an article she had written and shared with her audience.

This caught my eye because I had written an article on the exact same subject with almost an identical title not even a week before. Seeing how much praise and attention the expert’s post got, while mine didn’t get any – it brought back those feelings of insignificance and failure I – yes, even I – have worked so hard to destroy over the past two years.

I’m over it now, obviously. But I think we encounter situations like this more often than we care to admit. You work so hard to create something good, and it goes virtually unnoticed while someone with more money, more experience, more resources and a bigger audience does something similar and makes you feel invisible. They’re not doing it on purpose. They’re just doing, literally, what they do best.

But it still seems unfair.

It’s important to remember, first of all, that every ‘expert’ out there doing what you’re trying to do has been where you are before. They started with nothing – no followers, no credibility – nothing. Over time, they worked their way up to the place they hold now. You’re not always going to know every single person’s backstory – but always keep in mind there is one, and many times, it will sound a lot like yours. You’re broke, you hate your job, you’re struggling to turn your side project into something bigger (okay, not ALL of you, but you get the idea). You’re either going to make it or you’re not. But there is only one way to absolutely guarantee you never will – and that’s deciding not to try.

The best advice I have for you is to embrace these feelings of unimportance. Take this time to work on getting better, and figure out your niche, your style, the kind of audience you want. It doesn’t feel good to feel small. But it’s important that you have faith in yourself and in the future, regardless of the possible outcomes. Faith will never hurt you. Disappointment will string – but that’s what you sign up for when you decide you want to create original work for other people to consume. This is how it goes. There will be moments you feel like you don’t matter. But I like to believe there will be moments you feel like you do matter, too.

So you’re here, in the shadows. It’s a tired and lonely place to be. But it’s not your forever home. There are bigger and better things still to come. You can’t see them, but they’re coming. I promise.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Everything You Need to Hear Right Now

Maybe you really need to hear this today.


Writers: here are a few things you might really need to hear today.

You’re working as hard as you can right now.

Forget all those “successful” people who wake up at 4am and work 13 hours a day six days a week. You don’t have to be that person. If you’re busy and tired and going through stuff and all you can do is write a few hundred words to wind down at night, good for you. If that’s the best you can do, acknowledge and accept that. At the moment, you’re probably working as hard as you can. You don’t have to try and push yourself further than that simply because you’ve bought into the illusion that it’s expected of you. You can do only what you can do. For right now, that’s OK.

A handful of readers is precious.

You don’t have to have a big audience to make a difference in someone’s life. You don’t have to please everybody. You don’t have to write about what’s popular or write things you think will make people like you more. A small audience is beautiful. A small community can do great things. The whole world doesn’t have to know what you’re doing. They don’t WANT to know. Focus on the small circle of people within your reach. Cherish them. Care for them. They will do the same for you.

If your words matter to you, they matter.

It is easy to forget that you don’t write just for other people. If you really didn’t have any interest in writing anything at all, you wouldn’t. So when there’s something on your mind and you want to write about it, because you think it’s important and it matters to you, nothing should stop you from believing in that thing. It doesn’t matter if someone can’t relate to it. Nothing you write is ever going to be relevant to everyone’s lives all at the same time. If what you’ve written holds significance to you, it’s important. Treat it that way. Appreciate its value.

It’s OK to take things slow. It’s also OK to take a break.

Being a creative person is exhausting. Especially when you have obligations, like a job or an education, that don’t let you work as creatively as you would like to. It’s hard to make time to create things on your own, even when you enjoy them. So if you start to not enjoy them so much, or you’re not sure if you want to keep going, or things are just crazy and it’s all too much to juggle, it’s OK to take a step back. It’s OK to slow down, and it’s OK to walk away for awhile. There’s a big difference between quitting and taking time off for yourself. If you’re not at your best, your writing will reflect that. Put yourself first.

You don’t have to be the best at something you enjoy.

Skill is not a prerequisite for creativity. If you want to create something, and you’re hesitant about it because you know you aren’t going to be very good at it, go on creating anyway. If you really enjoy doing something – if it makes you happy and helps you feel less stressed and you feel whole and alive doing it – it doesn’t matter if you’re good at it. You don’t have to be the best at something to enjoy it. Besides, just because you’re not good at something doesn’t mean you can’t get better by practicing. You have to suck before you can succeed.

I’m rooting for you.

If you ever feel like no one cares or no one is paying attention or no one appreciates how hard you are trying, you can at least sit down to create – write, draw, play, whatever – knowing you have my support. That’s what I’m here for. Maybe not always in the way you want me to be, but hey, I’m just one human. I built Novelty Revisions specifically to provide a place for you to come and work through your creative barriers and improve your skills. I’m here to listen to all of you, and encourage you. It may not seem like much, but it’s sure better than nothing at all.

It’s completely normal to need a reminder that what you’re working so hard to accomplish, even if it doesn’t feel like it, counts. Keep writing. Even if it sucks. It’s going to get better. Things always do.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.