When I embarked on my writing career 15 years ago, I wrote because I felt inspired to tell other people’s stories. But I also thought journalism would be glamorous and fabulous. Oh, how wrong I was.
Writing is not glamorous.
The closest thing to glamour you will feel is the day after deadline – when you’ve slept, had a shower and changed your clothes. Prior to that you will be on a caffeine-fuelled, sleep-deprived, anxiety-loaded, mission to overcome your terror of writing something worthless and missing deadline.
If you don’t like staring at a computer screen for hours agonising over little things called words – I call it pedantic semantics – don’t become a writer.
Writing is not all about inspired brilliance.
You have to learn to write on demand – whether you’re inspired or not. Writer’s block can be debilitating until you learn this skill. Sometimes you just have nothing to say.
And mostly, even when you are inspired, writing is typing. Unfortunately I’m not a typist, so I’m slow – with typos. Constant typos are infuriating, not inspiring. That said, there are moments in the writing process when you will feel euphoric. Or is that just the caffeine high? Enjoy them.
Just because Carrie Bradshaw got $4.50 a word – doesn’t mean you will.
Once I got paid $2 a word. And I mean literally once. I also used to write 2000-word features for $125. That’s about six cents a word. If you freelance for more than 50 cents a word – be grateful. And smug. You’re doing well.
Your article in print will be flawed.
A story is never finished, it is merely abandoned. Funnily enough, at precisely the time of your deadline. So, when you read your story in print, it could be better. Even if you thought it was perfection, you will read it and see flaws. You might even hate it.
My advice – don’t read it. Look at your byline, let your ego have its moment, then turn the page immediately.
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