Making mistakes is always difficult and having to admit big ones is even worse. Professionally, if this happens, it can be catastrophic and a game ending experience for your business. That is why I almost did not try to resurrect my writing career after some life events knocked out my credibility.
Channeling my constant perfectionism and fear of failure and also being basically somewhat allergic to deadlines, I have always struggled to get to the finish line. Don’t get me wrong; I love what I do and seeing my name in print or on the Web is the ultimate high for me.
Also, since I have always worried that my best will never be good enough, I hesitate when pressing the send button. This has resulted in my having not-so–good relationships with some editors.
Mistakes in communicating circumstances
This situation escalated one winter when I was writing feature articles for a regional magazine and writing test questions for a text book. Everything was going along swimmingly until I fell, broke my wrist (writing hand, of course!) and got a concussion, to boot.
The wrist factor wasn’t so bad, but the effects of a delayed concussion diagnosis went on for some time. I thought my brain could heal as quickly as a broken bone, but I never imagined how light sensitive and computer sensitive my eyes could be.
To my credit, I did stay in touch with my editors, assuring them of my capability. To their credit, they asked if I was able or uncertain and how could they help. Meanwhile, I struggled with every concept and sentence and the stress of the situation made it worse. I had never had a concussion before and I did not understand my limitations. I just knew that I could not think straight and I could hear my professionalism gurgling down the drain.
Four years have passed and the memory of these projects is still very painful, as I realize what a mess I made for them by not being very, very honest early on.
In fairness, sometimes life happens with the most ironic of timing. I just did not want to lose these great projects; so instead, I lost more: the projects and my self-esteem. I did write the editors of the projects to apologize. They didn’t respond. I didn’t think they would, but it was a step in my recovery of the mindset of my career.
The road to recovery is never easy. The writing and editorial world is changing and taking a step a back to adjust and learn new skills has been a good move. I also have created a work plan to be more agile for life events.
That is one of the reasons I chose freelancing in the first place. I know that I can only recover my reputation by cleaning up my resume and increasing my online presence ( different applications work for different people), demonstrating what I did do well in and doing an exceptional job on the work I now have been hired for.
Moving forward, I am building up my portfolio again. I am working on as many leads as I can, and taking less well-paying gigs to get new experience and gain exposure.
I have found that the writing world has moved on, in the venue for submissions, but that is good news. Realizing that media is usually at the forefront of change and that being willing to learn new skills quickly in the ever changing world of publishing has been beneficial. Social media is the main way to network and market. Realizing that posts and blogs are good ways to get published, gain exposure, and build revenue, I am finding new ways to work.
I am grateful for these lessons my mistakes taught me, and think I might not have been so willing if I had had to be pulled, kicking and screaming, from the old paths of writing. For anyone who has had a similar professional journey as mine, be encouraged by author Napoleon Hill’s words, when he said, “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.”
So, here’s to what’s around the corner! Mistakes and all!
Copyright 2018 Leslie F. Doyle