I guess I’ll be a writer

December 29, 2011

I never outright said, “I’m going to be a writer.” In fact, that thought never really crossed my mind. I had plans to be a marine biologist, nurse, doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, and life-long student. Clearly, not one of those plans worked out. I didn’t go to college to be a journalist or a writer. I blogged, essentially because Twitter didn’t warrant enough space for my thoughts. That’s it. Eventually, blogging triggered something that spoke to me and said, “Yeah, this is something you can do.” And I’ve been doing it, kind of.

I’m not saying I’m a good writer, because I don’t feel like I am. My grammar sucks at times (however, I can totally blame living in Minnesota for my backwards use of the English language), I overuse commas like a teenager overuses initialisms (I learned the difference between initialisms and acronyms about six months ago), and I ramble. A lot. In fact, if there’s one thing I could change about my writing habits, it’s being more concise. I’m still working on it.

The job I had at MSN this past year really helped forced me to tighten up my writing. The pieces I was writing essentially had to tell a story in less than a paragraph. Including most of the who, what, where, when and whys in as little as 2 sentences. It was a challenge.

The other challenge with that job was I was writing for a massive audience. With my blogs, I was writing for a couple dozen readers, on a good day, who didn’t really care if I screwed something up. It was always a little shocking to hear the number of daily page views in the hundreds of thousands, and monthly views into the millions. It sounds huge, and it was, but I never really thought about it much. I think if I obsessed over the numbers, I wouldn’t have been as semi-successful at my job as I was because the O.C.D. would have kicked into high gear.

Aside from my first “big gig” as a writer, which literally fell in my lap and I am ever so grateful for the opportunity (Stephen, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU!), I haven’t worked as a writer. My first job was huge, I’m not sure I’ll be able to beat that just yet. The simple fact is, nearly everyone can write. Which means that my writing needs to be so far above average to even be considered for most jobs. And in order to get more jobs, I need to get more clips and build up my portfolio. So far, I have a few links to pieces I wrote for MSN and a blog.

I know this is something I want to do, and something I can do. However, I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty intimidating profession. One in which you have to catch the lucky breaks and run with them because the market is so flooded with really talented writers who are still struggling after being in the business for years and still trying to pay off their journalism degrees. I, on the other hand, will throw myself into the crowded pool of writers and keep writing, occasionally posting on my blog, applying for freelance gigs and going after every opportunity I can get. It may take a while, but I’m OK with that.

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