by Meg Dowell


A skilled writer never stops learning.

One of my main goals in keeping this blog is that I never imply to any reader that I have all the answers or know everything there is to know about writing.

I have always believed, and always will, that skilled writers never stop learning. So when I started my first full-time writing job, I showed up on my first day knowing I still had a lot to learn. And I was right.

I’ve learned plenty of important things that anyone can apply to their own writing endeavors. Whether you consider yourself a rising professional in the field or you just like to write for fun, some of these lessons might help you approach your work with a more realistic — but still optimistic — outlook.


1. Half the job is all about experimentation

There is no formula that guarantees something you write will always get the clicks or shares you think it deserves. Life would be a lot less stressful if there were. But the truth is, sometimes, you have to start throwing ideas against the wall at random to figure out what gets results and what doesn’t. And even then, often what you think will work will not — and the other way around.

If you want to succeed in writing, you have to dare to experiment. You can’t worry about failing or about being judged. You just have to let whatever”s going to happen, happen.


2. Sometimes you have to wait for things to take off (if they ever do)

Instant gratification does not exist in the writing world. Waiting is an essential part of the job. You wait for people to email you back. You wait for scheduled projects to be released. You publish something with more excitement than you know what to do with — and almost always, if it’s received well, you also have to wait to find that out.

It’s slow, and it’s hard to have patience when you feel like you’re trying to solve a problem that doesn’t have a clear solution. But you have to learn to live with that.


3. As long as you’re writing to the best of your ability, you’re doing fine

There is only so much you can actually control when it comes to your content. You can write it, edit it, format it, and present it in a way that’s appealing and persuasive. But in the grand scheme of things, that’s about it. You can’t force people to click, to subscribe, to care. Sometimes that makes it seem like you’re putting a lot of hard work into things no one will ever read. That’s just part of the deal.

There is also only so much feedback other people can give you. They don’t have all the answers, either. This is why they call it “the grind.” You keep working until it pays off, no matter what.




Guest post contributed by Meg Dowell. Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.