The why I got started doing something I love will always trump the how. To start, I had to get close to my all-time low to realize several things.
I realized I would rather take the risk than be in danger of a stoic life.
I would rather model courage for my kids than a tolerance for the ordinary.
I would rather be on a quest for something meaningful than chase unfulfilling comfort.
I would rather experience the fear of sharing my words than the regret that I didn’t.
I would rather be able to say I tried than to be jealous of those who did.
I would rather not care about my truth being heard by everyone than to worry about judgment.
I would rather be touched by those that have touched me than to be acknowledged by those who haven’t.
I would rather accept compliments than fight them off.
I would rather only win sometimes than to lose at trying
I would rather feel the accomplishment of hard work than entitlement.
I would rather spend my time knowing there are many reasons I exist than waste it searching for a concrete definition.
I remember the first night I ever submitted anything I was tipsy. OK, a little more than tipsy. I had written it years before, and since my writer’s insecurities were blocking my fingers from hitting the keyboard, I submitted that older piece. I got a few rejections and one acceptance from Mamalode. I remember feeling shocked. I had grown so much since writing that article, and yet they still wanted to publish it. I posted the news to Facebook to all my supportive friends and family who were just as thrilled for me as I was shocked.
The second time, I wrote a new post about postpartum depression because it was something I knew a lot about and it was fresh in my mind. It’s much easier to get started writing when you are passionate about the subject. I submitted to more websites this time, and the very next morning I got an email from the editor at Scary Mommy stating they would like to publish my piece. That’s the first time I thought maybe I could make a little something out of this. Maybe this will fill the hole I’ve felt my whole life not writing. Not believing I could write. Not trying. I accepted and once again shared it with my Facebook friends. Scary Mommy, as we all know, is HUGE in the blogging world, so I was beyond proud of myself. When it was published the feeling, I got from reading all the comments from strangers was indescribable. I felt validated somehow. It’s always a writers dream to have people take something away from your words other than your Mom. I had hit my six months goal a month goal in two months so what next?
I kept writing.
The third time, I wrote a piece about Single Dad’s needing to be recognized and pitched it to several websites (letting them know it was simultaneous of course), and within an hour I got a response from the editor of the parent’s section at Huffington Post. My mouth dropped open, and my confidence soared. If I could get published on Scary Mommy and Huffington Post in 3 months, what am I capable of the next three months, the next six months, the next year?
I kept writing
Eventually, I got published on Disney’s Babble and continued to submit to them and was asked to be a member of their regular blog team. It wasn’t a staff writing position or anything, it was just joining the group and being able to write for them a few times a month, but I was ecstatic anyway.
For a while after several pieces on their website, things just dropped off. I had purchased a new car in February and told myself I must get a second job (I work full-time in Healthcare) or I have to make money on the side writing. By this point, I was not writing for free anymore, but it was still just sporadic payments from personal essays.
So, I decided to start searching all freelance job boards I could find. Problogger, Contena, Writejobs, and many more.
Within a few weeks, I got my first response to the hundreds of applications I had submitted. It was for a brand-new Toddler website looking for a regular blogger to write research based articles for the site. I did a paid trial piece with the owner and was asked to become a writer for the! Now, this was awesome. This is what I had been looking for. It meant I didn’t have to give up my time with my two boys by getting a weekend job; it meant someone chose me out of other writers, it said I was headed up and not down. Even though research articles take a lot more time and concentration I love doing it. Even though I once thought I had to be a waitress again like I was when I was 19, I proved myself wrong. Writing for The Toddle has been amazing and not only am I getting paid for my work but I’m gaining invaluable experience.
My advice to any writer is DO IT. If you think you suck you won’t know until someone tells you that. Or until nobody says anything at all when you share your work. If you think you don’t have time-make it. If you think you won’t ever make a dime- well you probably won’t at first- but then you will. If you believe that the happiness that comes from doing something that you have wanted to do since you were little isn’t worth the work- you will see the very first time you see your name published it’s most definitely worth it.
I didn’t just magically figure everything out on my own and turned to a couple of websites aimed to help newbies like me get started. One is Beyond Your Blog. She has an abundance of information gathered in one place to get started and how to pitch. On top of that, she is down to earth and just an awesome person all around! Also, I am lucky to be a part of the HerViewFromHome team which is a phenomenal group of women, mothers, and writers who have encouraged me to keep going.
I’m not saying we can be happy even if we are starving. Or to quit our job to pursue a passion no matter how unrealistic. I kept my job, but I put forth some effort into doing what I love, and I slowly made progress getting published on successful websites I never thought I was good enough to be on. It didn’t happen right away. I got rejected a lot and started off writing for free. But in the decision to keep trying even when I was insecure about my abilities, I steadily got better. I’m succeeding because I tried, and you can too.