As a victim of social anxiety, I’ve found myself time and time again turning to writing to express the collection of thoughts that pool inside my head throughout the day. While I know my friends have no interest in listening to my rants on What Your Favorite Instagram Filter Says About You, I know that somewhere on the Internet, there is a social media addict just waiting to find out whether Earlybird means they’re an old soul or a hipster wannabe. Though I’ve only been gracing the Web with my writing prowess for two years (please note the sarcasm there), I’ve uncovered a few things that I certainly didn’t expect going into it.
1. You won’t satisfy everyone.
You can only write about blanket forts and kittens for so long before your brain turns to fluff and begins to crave more sophisticated topics, like listicles titled 10 Ways The Wasp Burrowing Into Your Skin Will Save Your Life Someday or something equally as obscure. The problem with graduating to such subjects is that it invites significantly more criticism. Eventually, a disgruntled scientist will stumble upon your article and point out all the inaccuracies to distract himself from his precarious meth lab operation. Once he’s finished, some animated movie snob will comment on your use of Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie GIF while another person rails on the typo you made in the third line as if it were some reprehensible war crime. Before you read such comments and begin to swear off writing for the rest of eternity, keep in mind that everyone has different interests. While one person may really enjoy your analysis of the religious references in Superman, others may condemn it for its poor content/style/grammar (pick one). You’re not going to please everyone, so don’t beat yourself up when one person hates on your work.
2. Establish a routine or nothing will get done.
Writing on the Internet is kind of like going to the gym. If you don’t establish a routine, you will put off the work in favor of Netflixing until you forget that you had ever promised to do so. (That, however, is the only similarity, unless you count flexing your brain muscles as a workout, in which case, call me a gym rat.) The day you decide to skip your daily or weekly writing session is the day you stop writing altogether.
3. Stay away from the comments section. (only mean people comment)
Nine times out of ten, the only people that have the energy to comment on a piece of writing are the ones fueled by their own restless anger or annoyance. Not everyone hates your guts or your writing, just some of them. The ones who don’t will likely click the Facebook “like” button and move on with their day, because anything else requires a level of passion only present in reactionary moms or internet trolls.
4. You will make mistakes. They will pass.
Once upon a time, I made a glaring error in the title of one of my published posts. The title. The pride that had come with an assurance of an error-free article was immediately nullified by the fatal mistake at the top of the page, something that was the journalistic equivalence of forgetting the lyrics to your own song in concert. As if it wasn’t bad enough, one of the founders of the site shared it on their social media, a move I’m convinced was a passive aggressive punishment for being negligent. But despite the seemingly endless bouts of shame I experienced in the following days, one fact shined through against all odds: life goes on. Two weeks later, the typo was forgotten, buried under new articles about TV show finales and Twitter addiction. A typo is not forever, even if it is in the title and on 300 people’s newsfeeds.
5. Scan every inch of your work 3 times over, just in case.
There’s no such thing as too much proofreading, just like there’s no such thing as Santa or Voldemort’s nose. Spell-checks don’t catch everything, as much as the talking paperclip on the edge of your word document wants you to think, so never be afraid to read each sentence 1, 5, 60 times over before handing it over to the higher Internet powers. You’ll be happy you did when you don’t have grammar Nazis hounding your every move from that point on.
6. One article can make or break you. (But mostly make.)
In a world of shot attention spans, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. One contentious article may bring in hoards of nasty commenters but the publicity the piece brings in may attract more positive readers who may cling to you as lifelong fans and run to your defense. While one overblown article may draw in some negative reviews and damage your career short-term, it may also benefit you in the long run by bringing in more readers. Sometimes you have to pay an arm and a leg to get ahead in this world but at least you’ll be hobbling towards success faster than anyone else.