It’s been quite a year in my writing life.
Before 2015, my writing existed in my journal, on my computer and in my head. I did not have a single writing credit to my name. By year-end, my pieces had been run on a number of well-respected publications.
At the start of the year, I was not in a place to start my own blog or attempt a book, but I wanted to try my hand at submitting something.
I’ve always loved writing and consider myself a scribe of sorts. I taught writing in my first career. I journal regularly. I’ve taken a creative writing class or two. I dream of writing a novel or starting a blog in the quiet moments between kids, work, family and other obligations.
Part of my current job is to run a business blog. I determine content, set up the editorial calendar, help the writers and publish the final product. I’ve contributed a few pieces myself.
During my time at this job, I developed a fondness for the blog format. It’s 600-800 words that can be poured out and shaped into something coherent in a day, or even an hour. It is just so doable. Even for a person who doesn’t have a lot of spare moments to write.
I was also familiar with some of the parenting sites like Scary Mommy and The Huffington Post and thought, maybe, just maybe, I could write for them.
In 2015 I wanted to give my inner writer an outer identity, and blogging for other sites seemed like the way to do it.'I wanted to give my inner writer an outer identity' @LibbyGalin Click To Tweet
My first attempt at a personal essay documented a 30-day challenge I took to reduce my use of technology around my kids.
The article was accepted by Mamalode on the first shot.
I was over the moon!
Propped-up by my success, I signed up for a writing course by the HerStories Project. This class was tremendously valuable to a writing newbie like me. I learned a lot about improving my craft. I was also introduced to a wide variety of submission opportunities (including the best submission resource, Beyond Your Blog) and found the beginnings of a writing community.
From there I cranked out some articles when I could and submitted many, many places.
My successes for the year include posts on Mamalode, Scary Mommy, Club Mid and an acceptance to The Mix-Hearst’s contributor network.
My learning experiences (rejections, failures, duds…) include radio silence from The Huffington Post and The Motherlode, and declines from Full Grown People, BLUNTmoms, The HerStories Poject, Brain, Child and the places where I also had articles accepted.
Here Is What I Learned:
- My weak spots: Editors, writing classmates and your own editorial team (my husband and my mom) will give you the feedback you need. Among other areas of opportunity, mine is that I need to cut loose. I’ve never had a controversial comment on any of my posts. One editor told me to let my “inner frustrated or inner funny out.” I never knew this when I wrote for an audience of one.
- How to handle rejection: I’m not to the point where my writing is accepted more than it is declined. Each decline feels like a big, fat failure. I need a night to recover before I tweak the piece, make a new submission plan or decide to table it. It is excellent practice in resiliency.
- What is super moving to me does not always (or even often) appeal: I’ve had a lot of very personal pieces that feel very powerful to me declined. I’ve learned that I sometimes confuse my emotions with a riveting article.
- Think off the beaten path for topics: I’ve had success with topics that aren’t as common. One article I wrote praising the role of aunts on Scary Mommy was not only accepted but also shared 45,000 times. As a new writer, creative topics help me stand out.
- Social media communities are a wealth of information: Once I am published on a site, I join their contributors Facebook group. These groups are great places to share work, read other well-written articles, get inspired, ask questions or see questions you would never have thought to ask.
For me, the personal blog isn’t happening yet, nor is the novel. However it feels great to have a voice and an audience while my ‘regular’ life rolls on. I’ve had just enough success that I want to keep at it. I look forward to honing my craft and meeting more of my publication goals in 2016.