1. Your life ceases to matter until you finish your post
I have a decent job. I have a good circle of friends. I’m reasonably intelligent and nothing about my visage causes children to scream in terror. By all accounts, my life’s not bad. But none of these things matter to me if I haven’t written recently — or worse yet, if I have an article that I’m procrastinating on writing. A tremendous amount of my sense of self-worth has become wrapped up in my capacity to “create.”
If more than a week goes by without my editor giving me an event to cover, I get unbelievably antsy (just ask any of my friends who have to listen to me complain about being “bored” after a week off). My neurosis is even more intense if I’m working on something that doesn’t have a deadline. Do I want to go out for drinks, tonight? Nah, I think I’ll stay home and work on this blog post. If I’m going to write a Miley Cyrus post, I gotta do it before it ceases to be culturally relevant, ya feel me?
Conversely, once I’ve accomplished my writing goals for the week, I am a master of giving none-of-the-damns. Let’s hit the bar, guys! Yes, I know it’s a Tuesday night, but my Pearl Jam article is done and I’m ready to rage! (Since none of my friends are slaves to the World of Blogging, more often than not, these ragers actually end up with me sitting alone, guzzling scotch and binge-watching reruns of The West Wing, but no matter.)
2. Waiting for your submission to be approved will make you question your belief in God
Two of my main writing venues involve me submitting my work to other people for review before publishing. Both of my editors seem to be lovely people, and for the most part, they’re pretty good about reading and posting my articles in a timely manner. Until they do, however, I’m subject to every form of self-doubt ever. Will they like it? Was it funny enough? Was it too negative? Will I ever love again? Presumably they haven’t posted my article because it’s, ya know, a weekend/national holiday, or they’re busy leading non-neurotic lives that don’t involve obsessively reading other people’s writing, but WHAT IF THEY HATED IT? All these thoughts run through your mind during the hours or days while you’re waiting for them to post your stuff.
3. You will become even more obsessed with language than you already were
Any aspiring writer has a tendency to fixate on things like word choice and turn of phrase, but until I had to churn out articles on the reg, I never really understood just how much of a grind it can be. As someone who writes about bands quite a bit, there are only so many times you can throw out phrases like “transcendent” or “ethereal” before the words lose all meaning and/or your editor wants to firebomb your house. So the thesaurus becomes your permanent companion and synonyms become your best friend. And you. Will. Constantly. Rewrite.
4. Your acquaintances will be stoked. You’ll be mildly surprised by this
The first time an established website published one of my articles, I got message from one of my Twitter followers that just said, “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.” I had no idea he was so invested in my journalistic success. Likes, retweets, and Facebook shares will come pouring in from people you haven’t interacted with in months. People will mention your articles to you in casual conversation. By and large, you’ll find this sudden outpouring of support gratifying, albeit somewhat puzzling at times.
5. Strangers will think you’re a jerk. This will bother you less than you think
If you’ve ever read the comments section of any blog or news site, you know that the internet can be a rough place at times. By the same token, if you’re going to be a blogger, you have to be prepared to take some verbal abuse from time to time. I knew all this, but I wasn’t prepared for how weird — and sometimes hilarious — the comments can be. One woman once treated one of my articles as a personal affront to the way she lived her life. Another person compared me to Patrick Bateman and someone else kindly took the time to tell me that I looked like a tool in my profile photo. People are entitled to their own opinions, so none of these really bothered me. (I got a chuckle at the Patrick Bateman jibe.) And I suppose my avatar is a little tool-y, so I didn’t mind that, either.
What really surprised me, however, is how quickly other strangers will leap to your defense. The internet is full of people who are happy to defend the thesis of your article or call other people out on their douchey remarks. O! Internet — you crazy, wonderful invention.
6. Most of your friends will be ambivalent. This will bother you more than you think
Some of your friends will be very supportive, but most of them will continue on with their lives with little or no opinion about your 15 minutes of internet notoriety. Most of them will read your articles occasionally, but they won’t hang on your every post. Some of them will even express displeasure at your articles (not all of the ladies who inspired “The 3 Women You’ll Love in Your Twenties” were particularly stoked about making the list). And if you’re feeling self-centered, this might bug you. But this is actually a good thing — your friends are your friends because of who you are, not because of what you write. And lest you get too big for your britches, it’s good that they’re there to remind you that the sun will continue to rise and set, regardless of whether or not you post.
7. You will realize that someone out there is always more knowledgeable/talented than you. And yet…
If your friends don’t keep you humble, your fellow writers will. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t someone else’s article or album review and think, “Damn, that’s good. I wish I could’ve written that.” And much like the ambivalence of your friends, this is a good thing, because it not only keeps you grounded, but hopefully it serves as a source of inspiration and incentive to perfect your craft.
8. You’ll think you’re an expert at everything
I mean, hell — I wrote this article, didn’t I?