When I told some people close to me that I wanted to be a writer, there was no shortage of negative comments and discouragement.
“It’s a really hard field to get into,” “Everyone wants to be a writer,” “You’ll never make any money doing that,” and comments of the type were pretty standard.
The naysayers can really get to you. They’re probably the reason I ended up moving away from writing in the first place.
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I’ve been writing everything from children’s stories, to poetry, to nonfiction and argumentative essays since I learned to write. I’ve always enjoyed it; writing is one of the few things that really helps me focus and gives me great joy. For some reason, I was encouraged to move away from writing and to pursue a “more realistic” career. Still, after working in several different fields and obtaining my degree, I decided to start writing again, with the intent of getting published on a multi-author blog.
It was really hard to ignore these naysayers, but I tried to push away all that negativity and I did the work anyway. And it worked.
I submitted an article to a very large blog and it was accepted on the first go. Words can’t express how awesome that felt; to know that putting in the work and ignoring those who don’t share my vision paid off in the long run.
Writing is a profession filled with rejection. So, when I submitted my first article, I braced for my first rejection e-mail. And instead, only a couple of days later, I got my first acceptance e-mail. I was so excited!
Here are the 6 things that helped me get my very first submission accepted into a large multi-author blog that has had over 60 million unique visitors to date – The Good Men Project.
1. I avoided “paralysis by analysis.”
In Tim Ferris’ book, The 4-hour-workweek, he advises that we avoid “paralysis by analysis.” In the information age, it’s so easy to get sidetracked from our goals by the unending barrage of information on how to reach those goals. We get overwhelmed with everything we should be doing, and we end up doing nothing at all.
The first thing I did when I decided to pursue writing seriously was to “unplug” from any and all unhelpful sources of information. I left many an e-mail list during this time.
2. I found an inspiration that wasn’t full of BS.
I mentioned in passing to my brother that I wanted to pursue writing more seriously, and he recommended some successful authors I should follow. My brother, a successful podcaster and author himself, is usually full of good business advice, so I decided to check out his recommendations, and it paid off. I now only follow a handful of people.
Since deciding to pursue writing more seriously, I have left every single e-mail list I had previously subscribed to, because none of them were actually helping me; they were just bombarding me with marketing. I’ve since signed up for some good ones, but I immediately leave them if they don’t provide me with good value.
Find the author who inspires you (and who has actually made it as an author), and soak in all that inspiration. Follow through on the advice he/she gives you, along with honing your craft, and you will get results.
The Internet is full of people telling you how to make money online. The majority of these people make money by telling you how to make money. Find someone who does what you actually want to do for a living, and use them as your inspiration to get started on your journey to be published.
3. I followed the rules.
Editors don’t like people who don’t pay attention to detail. Often, the sites to which you want to submit your writing have very specific rules on how to make submissions. Some sites are very specific on how to format your article, and also give you specific tips on the articles most likely to get published.
Read these, and pay close attention to everything the site is asking you to do. Then do those things. At this point in my writing career, my work load is about 80% research and only 20% actual writing. I write all the time, of course, because I love doing it, but the writing for submission takes a backseat to actually researching the sites on which I hope to be published.
I credit this close attention to detail to getting my very first submission accepted to the site of my choosing.
4. I didn’t follow the rules.
I didn’t submit my article in the exact same way the site asks authors to do it. This time around, I actually answered a call for submissions (being connected with the right people helped me in this regard). You’re more likely to get published if a site is actually looking for submissions at the time you send your article in. That’s not to say you shouldn’t submit articles that haven’t been solicited; I’m just relating my experience.
In submitting the article, I broke some of the rules for submissions. I did; however, do exactly what the person asking for the submissions was asking me to do. It paid off.
5. I started ignoring the naysayers (and I stopped updating them).
I mentioned the gist of what I was going to write about to someone close to me, and their lack of enthusiasm could have stopped me dead in my tracks in the past. Now, I’m ignoring the naysayers. It’s so hard for me; I am working really hard on building thick skin, but I still have a long way to go.
Past problems have made it difficult for me to face criticism without internalizing it; it’s difficult for me to separate my actions from my person. I’m working on it, and I’m making progress. It’s hard to ignore the naysayers, but when I finally said to myself that I was good enough (and really believed it), I sent in that submission, and good things came of it.
I know that there will be a lot of rejection coming my way. I’m ready for it. Because I know that those rejections will pave the way for me to become a better writer, and to be published on more sites.
6. I love writing so much that I’m willing to do it for free.
Having said that, don’t spend your entire career writing for free, or you won’t have a career at all. Write a couple of articles to get the experience, and then move on to paid sites. It’s also possible to get your first assignment as one that pays, though it tends to be easier to get into a free site first.
I believe it’s OK to write a few articles for free in the beginning, because writing is a real job. Nowadays, before you take on any skilled job, you usually have to do at least some volunteering or training without getting paid before you get a “real job.” It’s part and parcel of becoming an adult and a professional in any field. But don’t get stuck on only writing for free sites. Get in, get your clips, and move on.
There are also reasons to write for free after you have an established career as a writer, and I’ll discuss these reasons in a future post.
I got my very first submission published on a very large site, because I was willing to put in the work, ignore the naysayers, follow good sources of information and ignore the bad, and because I’m doing something I’m passionate about.
When will you submit your first article? To which publication? Let me know in the comments below.