This year marks the 16th year I have been writing. I knew I wanted to write since I was in 7th Grade and I have been lucky to make it happen. I have been privileged to study English Literature by choice and I have been fortunate in my job hunts to always find work related to writing. I have worked as a writer for a website, a translator for a media monitoring company, a writer for a magazine, a translator for a magazine, and a copywriter for two PR agencies and one Advertising agency. Till this day, I am still working in the writing field as I am now a communication specialist in a non-profit organization. I continue to write in Faces, as often as I can, as Faces is my source of inspiration and a project I hold close to my heart. I have written about most things under the sun from products, to services, to experiences, to opinions and I still enjoy it.
Looking back on the years, I have learned a lot. Some lessons came easily and others I learned the hard way. So, this post really a trip down memory lane , documenting the lessons I take with me as I continue to sharpen my skills. If you are a creative person reading this, please feel free to add anything else I missed. And, if you are just starting out in a creative career, I hope you find what I learned to be useful.
Lesson 1: I first learned that you have to like it to do it. If writing is not something you enjoy then don’t even embark on this career. Some people are better with numbers than they are with words and some are better with words than they are with numbers. We come with strengths and weaknesses so if this is a strength, a passion, and a calling do it. The rewards do outweigh the challenges. I tell you from now the media makes this career seem more glamorous than it really is. So, I write because I enjoy it and I am not booked for book signing ceremonies and book readings just yet.
Lesson 2: Unlike other more traditional professions, creative professions whether they are writing, art, design, movie making etc, come with products open to opinions. I learned that the minute you write something and release it to the world everyone reading it will have an opinion about it. Opinions here are not based on right and wrong, they are based on likes, dislikes, and personal preference. You could pour your heart and soul into a peace and yet be met with negative feedback and it has happened to me on more than one occasion. To survive in the creative world, I learned to just remember that the negative feedback is based on one person’s perception it is about the work and not about the writer. Personally, I learned to listen and to evaluate and to see if the negative opinion is important. I learned to ask myself whether or not it contains truth, and whether it is is a reflection of the commentator’s personal tastes or even grudges. When I first started writing I used to get hurt from negative feedback now it doesn’t bother me instead I see it as an opportunity to learn.
Lesson 3: I learned the importance of believing in what I am doing. I realize now that If you don’t believe in your own work, no one will believe in it. I used to be afraid to share my writing, but now I am learning to be more open to sharing it. I have learned that we should benefit from social media to spread our work. We should really own what we do, regardless of the negative thoughts we might get on the way. A few years ago, someone as me, why I write . That person went on to say to me “No one reads your blog anyway !” I allowed that comment to get to me for some time, but lately I am thinking it shouldn’t . If we have something worth putting out there and if it comes from our heart, people will eventually catch on. This is my idea. I also think that this doesn’t only apply only to writing, it applies to any creative, innovative, or ambitious venture you want to embark on. I learned that some people just don’t take new ideas too well. Again, the feedback is a reflection of their fears and their beliefs. I always remind myself that every idea is a stupid idea to someone, somewhere and at some point. As long as we don’t think our ideas are stupid, then they will succeed.
Lesson 4: This one is specific to writing, you see unlike other professions where one needs to learn how to use a certain software, or where one needs to take a certain class, writing just involves a paper, pen, and a word document. So, with the promised simplicity of writing, most people assume that they can write. Furthermore, everyone is a critic. So, writing for organizations and different clients taught me not to be shocked if a reader sends the work back to me bleeding with comments, edits, and re-writes that are sometimes not even grammatically correct. I learned to negotiate with them about their comments. If it is an opinion-based comment. I try to see how we can reach a middle ground but If something doesn’t sound right fight for it.
Lesson 5: This one is related to the point above it, I learned to pick your battles. Before I embark on a war against someone who criticized my work, I just evaluate who that person is, what authority do they have over me, what knowledge they have, and if their critique is founded on fact or a simple personal observation. After all, striving to ensure that everyone loves everything we do is a lost cause. It will only lead to disappointment.
Lesson 6: I learned the importance of writing in my own style. Copying someone else will drain any work of its creativity and authenticity.
Lesson 7: If you love it then it is fun and rewarding, so I learned to remember that in order to always love it.
After all these years, I still love to write