Almost two years ago, before I ever started blogging, I had my first featured post on Scary Mommy.
Though I had always loved to write, writing for fun had taken a backseat to legal life and motherhood.
As an attorney, you are constantly writing, but it is always on behalf of someone else. Additionally, your work is typically civil but adversarial, meaning you’re constantly engaging in a polite war of words. While I enjoyed my work, I still wanted to write for me. I also eventually wanted to start freelancing and it felt like the right time.
Having become a mom the year before, I also felt myself suddenly overcome with the urge to write again. There’s something about the first year of motherhood that leaves you feeling like a seasoned veteran. I had experienced a lot since becoming a mom, and I had a lot to share. I didn’t want to become the creepy lady hovering over new parents in Buy Buy Baby, so I did what most people do when they desire an audience: I took to the Internet.
Publishing my First Article
I knew exactly where I wanted to submit my first piece. Having recently entered the world of motherhood, I had scoured the pages of Scary Mommy that entire year, relating, laughing, agreeing–and sometimes disagreeing–with the variety of stories shared.
The very first article I wrote was called “Three Postpartum Rules I’m Glad I Broke.” I wrote it with the goal of uplifting other new moms who are frequently told to expect the worst once their babies arrive. I wanted to let other new moms know that, while new motherhood is no cakewalk, becoming a new parent will not completely destroy your identity. You can still do the things that you care about and that make you feel like yourself.
I wrote the piece, double-checked Scary Mommy’s submission guidelines, drafted my e-mail to the submissions editor, crossed my fingers, and clicked “send.” I knew there was a statistical certainty that I would not hear back, so I was shocked–and delighted–when I received an e-mail from Scary Mommy’s submissions editor the very next day confirming interest and a publication date.
The post went live that same month, and over the course of the next several months, several other posts were accepted and published as well.
While each submission is special to me, there are several lessons I cherish from that first featured post.
Sharing your creative work requires bravery.
When I wrote my first article, I didn’t yet feel comfortable writing under my name. I was practicing law full-time and not sure if my side writing would ever go anywhere, so I came up with the pen name “Mom at Law.” Still, even though I was writing anonymously, sharing my experiences with the world still took courage.
When you share your creative work, especially on the Internet, you are opening yourself up to criticism and judgment you wouldn’t otherwise receive. It’s like voluntarily submitting your diary to a panel full of Expert Judgers. But that also brings me to my next point.
When people judge you, they aren’t really judging you.
I was slightly surprised when many readers reacted negatively in the comment section of that first post. There were also many people who reacted positively, but the theme among those who did not seemed to be that I was a sanctimommy judging them for not doing exactly what I did after having a baby.
That was, of course, not my intention at all. I wanted my post to be inspiring and uplifting, but I also appreciated the fact that it started a conversation. That is, after all, the goal of any literary contribution–to generate thought and discussion.
My biggest takeaway though was that you are not responsible for the thoughts and reactions of others. No one knew the writer behind the post when it went live, so they had no knowledge about who I was as a person.
When people judge you, they aren’t really judging you. They are simply judging their perceptions of you, and those perceptions are informed by their own personal beliefs and experiences, which also have nothing to do with you.
In other words, don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t like you or what you have to say.
There’s never a wrong time to chase your dreams.
I wrote and submitted that first post during one of the busiest seasons of my life. I was a new lawyer and a new mom working hard to stay on top of every aspect of my life. I could have easily brushed off the desire to start writing again. I could have decided to wait until a “better,” more convenient time. But instead, I decided to start right then and there, and I’m so glad I did.
I applied this same logic to my decision to take on other freelance projects and to start blogging. While certain factors were right, there were others that could have deterred me from starting when I did. Nevertheless, I dove in when my instincts told me to do so–and I don’t regret it.
Opportunity is found when you seek it.
Sometimes opportunity finds us, but most of the time, we need to first seek opportunity if we are to find it. Opportunity grows from opportunity.
Don’t be daunted by the size and scope of your goals. Get after them.
You shouldn’t fear rejection.
I am so thankful to Scary Mommy for accepting that first post and the ones subsequently published. I sent them my first piece as a complete unknown, writing under a pseudonym, with no accompanying social media megaphone. They could have passed me over immediately, but they appreciated the content, and that’s all that mattered.
I did not let my fear of rejection stop me from submitting my first post. I also didn’t let it stop me from submitting again after they did pass on other pieces. As long as you are putting yourself out there, you will always run the risk of someone saying “no thanks.”
This also applies to how a potential audience may receive your message. Not everyone will appreciate what you have to say (see above), but you shouldn’t let that stop you from sharing something meaningful to you.
That first featured post gave me the experience and motivation to build on my freelance writing and eventually start blogging.
In sum, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and do work that is meaningful to you. It might be scary, and you may encounter judgment, but you are worth it.
If you’re interested in reading my articles on Scary Mommy, you can find them on their Mom at Law author page.