These past few months have consisted of many moments of procrastination and realisation, none more life changing than the realisation that at the age of 38 I’ve successfully transitioned careers.
Quitting my project management job at the age of 36 was a risky and somewhat stupid move, what with no savings or an inkling of what to do next, and to be honest with you a lot of people thought I was mad. Perhaps even me…
The last few years have been bloody hard BUT from all the hard work, stress, and near breakdowns I can finally see through the trees to a future where it has all been worth it.
I’m still freakin’ terrified and I still doubt myself but the more I learn, the more I read, the more I talk to people, and the more I write, the more I believe that I can do this. The more I believe I am a writer.
Here are 15 of the best articles on writing I have ever read.
Articles that have helped me to clear my head, boost my confidence and self-worth, ignite my creativity, and fire me up. They’ve also helped me acknowledge that I am a writer, that I have talent, and that that is an amazing thing – even if I lack attention to detail, don’t have a great grasp on grammar and punctuation, and suffer the curse of the typo 🙂
Admittedly you may not find this article particularly ‘inspiring‘ but I related to this article after struggling with a serious case of procrastination (okay, a serious case of bouts of procrastination).
‘What do I write about’.
‘I should really sit down and write something.’
‘One day I will write that book… ‘
‘Oh, who the hell cares if I write or not!’
It wasn’t until I read Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators, of which I immediately shared with my writer friends for discussion that I realised I was normal:
“Lots of people procrastinate, of course, but for writers it is a peculiarly common occupational hazard. One book editor I talked to fondly reminisced about the first book she was assigned to work on, back in the late 1990s. It had gone under contract in 1972.” – Megan McArdle
I’ve never been so happy to be considered normal.
This amazing article contains an incredibly comprehensive list of resources for every type of writer, a hub for links to websites discussing publishing, agents, creativity, through to writing prompts and generic writing advice. Now surpassing 151, one of the reasons I love this list so much is because it is not stuffed with affiliate links, but rather quality resources, many of which I havent seen or read before.
A must read in the digital age, this article aligns with my growing sentiments on the saturation of content online.
To be completely honest with you, I’m tired of ‘free’ products designed to entice me to subscribe to a list, or even the pressure as a business owner to create a free product to build a subscriber list to build my business. I am over online ecourses, many of which have been a waste of time and money, and most of all I am exhausted from seeing the same ideas regurgitated and rejigged into articles and ebooks on every second website in a competition to be page one on Google without any thought to originiality.esig
Thankfully, times are changing.
People are clueing in to the cons, scams and freebies. To the fake followers and other underhanded tactics. To the enticement to sign-up to a series of emails to slowly – or quickly – tempt you to sign your life away for a quick fix that isn’t really a quick fix and could be found in a google search for free (bought the ticket, been to that concert). I am hopeful that the changes, of which are underway, will be a good thing:
‘This isn’t a warning that things are changing; it’s a statement that things have changed. The future is already here. What worked before won’t work now, friends. But that’s okay, because change is the only constant. The real winners will understand and grow.’ – Chris Guillebeau
Typos are the bane of my existence. Honest to god, I can read a blog post I’ve written 5 times over before clicking the illustrious ‘publish’ button and immediately on re-reading find at least one typo in almost every post I’ve written. That’s on a good day. I guarantee you I’ll probably find at least 5 in this post even though I have painstakingly sweated over it for 2 months.
Why is it so hard to catch your own typos? Well, what some may call a lack of attention to detail or carelessness could mean you are actually really, really smart, and I for one am going to embrace that fact and run with it!
The reason typos get through isn’t because we’re stupid or careless, it’s because what we’re doing is actually very smart, explains psychologist Tom Stafford, who studies typos of the University of Sheffield in the UK. “When you’re writing, you’re trying to convey meaning. It’s a very high level task,” he said.
If you’re reading this article you are probably a writer. Or you are in turmoil about whether you are a writer. Or you are mulling over whether you can be a writer.
If you are a writer in any semblance of the word, then this article is for you. It will make you feel better about your quirks, because us writer’s are a quirky bunch. Once we accept that about ourselves life becomes so much easier.
Chances are, the more you get to know your writer, the more confused you’ll feel. Writers are odd ducks. We’re fun. We’re irritating. We’re enigmas and amoebas. How are you supposed to make sense of someone who flip-flops more than cheap rubber shower thongs? –
This article is for your friends. Your family. Your other half. The person you drive crazy. I sent this article to my husband. And to some of my friends and family. I don’t know if they read it. Probably not. Actually. I think the only people who did read it were my writing friends because they are also the readers.
I love this article, albeit it comes with a language warning and my new fave insult (toxic tickledicks – thanks Chuck 🙂 ). Also, it stirred up quite a bit of animated discussion in the blogosphere since it challenges a statement made by Stephen Hull, editor of Huffington Post UK:
“… I’m proud to say that what we do is that we have 13,000 contributors in the UK, bloggers… we don’t pay them, but you know if I was paying someone to write something because I wanted it to get advertising pay, that’s not a real authentic way of presenting copy. So when somebody writes something for us, we know it’s real. We know they want to write it. It’s not been forced or paid for. I think that’s something to be proud of.”
The reality of being a writer, as I see and experience it, is hard to digest for someone who has dreamed of being a writer since she was a little girl (although it’s not exactly surprising). I’m not naive, even though some probably thought so after I quit my 12-year career in project management at the age of 36 to pursue ‘my passion’.
To set the record straight, I knew I’d never make a bomb.
I also knew that changing my career and chasing my passion at the age of 36 wouldn’t exactly result in the same income I had become accustomed to.
The fact is I made the choice to at least try to do something I loved and not something I hated. Something that would make me happy and not something that made me completely miserable.
I also know that this is especially hard to digest for the seasoned writer who has been in the field for 10+ years. Many of them are struggling. They are increasingly finding it hard to prove what they do.
Okay, so writers need to eat. They also need a roof over the head. And a lot of them have families.
Secondly, if you’re a true ‘writer’ than you cannot not write. Writing is in you. It is your life blood. It is your soul. Without it you feel lost and empty. Writing IS your passion. It is your life. I know because I felt that way for 20 years because I wasn’t writing.
Now you don’t get that with all professions and $1.50 for a 500-800 word article isn’t going to cut it. I’ll go as far as to say it’s insulting. It really is. The lowest I’ve ever gone is $5 – and I write that with a bad taste in my mouth and a hell of a lot of shame. I was desperate for a buck, but $5. What the fuck was I thinking? But I was new. I was naive. And I need a p-o-r-t-f-o-l-i-o. And for those writer’s who have already established themselves and are now having to fight for every buck, well, it’s just plain sad.
All I can say is that I welcome the content revolution and the move towards quality over quantity and underhanded tactics of rewriting articles published by other people, and buying followers, reads, links, and more. It’s time we got back to grass-roots which is writing from the heart, writing that is inspired, and writing because it actually makes a difference.
From one writer to another, I guarantee you a few things:
a) People will not get you
b) Your friends and family will not read you (most of them)
c) You will continually question what you are doing and why
d) Imposter syndrome will loom over you like a dark, threatening cloud
d) You never know the impact your words might have on someone’s life, no matter how small, how seemingly insignificant.
Remember that somewhere, someone cares. That’s how.
This thought is what has motivated me to persist with writing and blogging for almost 6 years, and is a welcome reminder to me each and every time I feel like throwing in the towel.
So make your words count. That’s all I can ask of you.
Everywhere I look at the moment I read advice telling me that I need to develop a routine. A small business routine. A health routine. A work from home routine. A blogging routing. A writing routine.
I’m yet to do this although writing in the evenings with a glass of wine definitely helps. I also write better on a laptop over a journal, and the laptop has to be an Apple Mac. Admittedly I’m spending way too much time reading about writing than actually writing, which is where I then refer back to article #1.
Have you given thought to the old-school journos and writers who lived and breathed print?
In my foray into freelance writing over the last two years, after abandoning my writing dream for a sensible career I hated for many years, this is something I’ve thought about a lot.
Growing up print was it. I fantacised about writing for a paper or some eclectic magazine. About sitting there with my pad and pencil taking notes whilst interviewing someone fascinating. Secretly I wanted to be a PI / writer, uncovering the truth for justice and all that guff. Okay, I may have watched too many superhero movies and read way too many Nancy Drew novels…
Sure, the internet has led us to the information age, but many of us are yet to consider the cost. With the drive for online content, the closures of many a print publication, and the plummeting of rates for even seasoned writers, give a thought to those who have been in the profession for 20 years. Those who lived and breathed print. Those who actually rolled up their sleeves and travelled to interview someone in person or to snaffle out a story.
Muses are fickle beasts; they simply aren’t reliable, and when you’re trying to write, they can’t be corralled. They can’t be trained. In the wake of that, there’s good news: your muse isn’t actually the reason you write.
It’s good to remind yourself every now and again about why you write. If you love the written word, if you love to write, then you are a writer.
‘You write because you are a writer’.
You’re not doing it because you need to produce content to keep the stats up on your website. Nor are you doing it to promote your business, although making money from writing would be awesome! Youre doing it because, once again, you cannot not do it.
‘I believe that – if you are serious about a life of writing, or indeed about any creative form of expression – that you should take on this work like a holy calling.’ – Elizabeth Gilbert
Like Elizabeth Gilbert I too took writing classes at University with a dream in mind and a passion. And like Elizabeth it wasn’t for me. Unfortunately for me the experience put me off writing for a very long time. Although I knew deep down that writing was what I wanted to do – it’s what I was being called to do – I gave up because I thought I just wasnt good enough. I didn’t believe someone like me could make it. No. I was destined to work in some shitty job for the rest of my life. Dreams, passions, success. They were for someone else. I am so glad I woke up and realised the error of my ways. But more importantly I forgive myself because I needed to go through that process to make me both the person and writer I am today.
‘The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it.’ – Elizabeth Gilbert
Writing is intimidating. It’s also hard. As a writer, there’s this expectation of grammatical prowess, a thesaurus for a brain, and an endless supply of ideas. Your talent with stringing words together is also countered by a deep-seated fear of not being good enough:
‘Writing is intimidating. There’s this expectation of artful precision, mercurial grammatical rules, and the weird angst that comes with writing for other people. You start with a tidy nugget of an idea, but as you try to string it into language, it feels more like you’re pulling out your own intestines.’ – Sally Kerrigan
I particularly love the last sentence. Each and every time I write for someone else I feel this way and it’s great to know that it’s not just me.
This article sums up why you should never ask someone to read your script – especially a pro – without being prepared to take feedback on the chin. It’s also why, as a writer, you don’t want to give feedback to someone on their writing. I’ve been through something similar to this recently, except it was with a CV. It was a frustrating and disheartening experience which left me with a bad taste in my mouth and feeling like shit, even though I was paid for my expert opinion. Silver lining – I got paid.
‘By Heart’ is The Atlantic’s series about books, literary influence, and the creative process. This article contains highlights from 12 months of interviews with writers about their craft and the authors they love. What I love about this article is that it isn’t preachy. It isn’t telling us what we should be doing. It isn’t giving us the ‘top tips to …’ or a ‘how to on being the best …’. Instead it provides honest, diverse insights from writers who have been through the ringer. They have struggled, they have experienced pain and heartache, along with joy and success:
No one wants to be told what to do. Instead, we want to see our own (creative) challenges—also individual, also particular—reflected in someone else’s struggles. Sometimes, that second-hand knowledge can help us make better, smarter decisions. Not every insight in this series will help every writer, but every insight has the potential to save some writer, somewhere, some heartache
Itching to write that novel? Read this article first.
If you’re suffering from information overload, let me leave you with this little nugget of advice courtesy of David Brin:
Collect every piece of wisdom you can find, then do it your own way! – David Brin
Stuck for ideas on what to write about?
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