Writing is Not Glamorous: What I've Learned from Writing My First Published Piece

Long before I even began to write my first ever blog post, I spent hours upon hours each week reading my favorite blogs, anticipating new posts from my favorite writers, and fantasizing about the seemingly glamorous lifestyle of these individuals that I yearned for: the covetable wardrobes, countless Instagram followers, and, most importantly, the influence that their distinctive voices had.

Once I started to become an active member of the blogger community, however, I quickly learned that writing is not by any means something so easy (as it seems on the surface), nor is it the fabulous career or pastime that the movies make it out to be (13 Going on 30, anyone?).

This week, I've enjoyed my own 15 minutes of fame when The Boston Globe published my personal essay on summer internships both online and in their print publication. Let's be real: the second I got the phone call from the editor of the MetroWest section I did feel pretty special and important. But the weeks leading up to that phone call weren't as effortless as I would have expected.

It takes multiple drafts // Here's the bottom line: You can't write a publishable essay in one shot. Sure, we may have gotten away with a B+ in sophomore English having written the essay the night (or even the period) before, but that isn't going to cut it for the newspaper. Even for my blog I'll write a post straight through with just a few edits at the end on a busy day and I'll be satisfied. But there are no second chances in a newspaper or magazine. An editor wants to see your absolute best work so that they don't have to do too much to it. This means that you shouldn't expect the words to flow like water. I learned that it takes long, grueling nights of editing and even missing out on a few social events to take the time to get it just right. True story: It took seven drafts on this essay before I reached the final product.

It takes more than just good writing to get published // It all starts with a fantastic idea. You need to have something to say, not just a knack for using fancy words, to have your piece stand out. So you have a great idea, a thoughtful way of saying it, and you've edited your piece to oblivion. You can send it to the editor now, right? Well, that depends on whether or not you're trying to get published (spoiler alert: you are). Even when I thought I was done with my piece, my mom (a veteran writer) let me know that I, unfortunately, had one more thing to write: a letter to the editor stating why my piece would appeal to others, who it would appeal to, and my qualifications. Another important detail prospective writers often overlook? Maintaining a good social media presence. Whether that means writing a blog, tweeting actively, or, at the very least, being appropriate online. You will be Googled- trust me.

There will be days when you just want to give up // Not every day will result in a brilliant idea, an incredible synonym, or a pithy sentence. Some days, you might look at your essay and say to yourself "This is horrible and I have no idea how to make it better." But what you have to remember is that it is not horrible (I mean, you wrote it after all!) and that there are ways of improving your essay. You might just have to take a break, gain some inspiration from some of your favorite writers, and eat a snack before you can get back to it. I definitely had more than one "I wanna give up" days, but I knew that in the end, what I wanted was to be published. And you can't do that with a half-finished piece.

You will have haters // You know when you see a controversial article on Buzzfeed and you're just like "Oh, this is gonna be good. Better just skip to the comments section to see all those fights break out"? I honestly had no idea my article could be qualified as one of those (okay, not to that extent, but it did drum up a bit of not-so-positive conversation!). The first negative comment I received on my article was like a tiny dagger to my heart- I doubted myself, thinking that the comment was completely valid, and that my opinion was wrong. But after the initial shock, I started to laugh to myself a little bit, thinking that what I said was so important that it caused someone to comment in such a way. One of my friends put it to me perfectly in a text "Negative comments are good because it means you're provoking discussion. It means that it wasn't a bland piece that everyone agrees with." Amen!

It's entirely worth it // Sure, there may be a monetary reward for publishing a piece, you may gain some twitter followers, and you may take pride in the likes it accumulates on Facebook. But, in the end, what has been most valuable to me is the verbal feedback I've received from close family, friends, and even strangers. And even more so, experiencing this process from start to finish- from that first glimmer of an idea to receiving that phone call- has been incredibly worthwhile in and of itself.  

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