I always find it amazing that you guys manage to come back to my site day after day, regardless of whether I’ve updated it or not. It’s incredibly flattering. Really. Thank you for maintaining interest even though I’ve been so busy.
I still get loads of emails from all of you, and I swear I’m not ignoring them — I just haven’t had the time to individually respond to your questions and feedback as much as I previously did. I realize that my personal responding has been one of the main things readers have mentioned loving about both me, my blog, my various social networking presences etc, but again … Just way too busy, guys. I hope you understand.
Fortunately, I do have some time today to respond to a letter from 18 year old “S”, as we’ll call her. In her email, she writes:
“I’m an 18 year old, living in the small state of Connecticut. I’ve e-mailed before and you haven’t gotten back to me (not a big deal whatsoever). Just assumed I’d give it another go. I’m aware your busy, just looking for some help on where to start, in life, in writing. I feel stuck, and you seem to have everything (basically) together. Pardon me, for messaging again. If you’d like to see who you would be chatting with, my tumblr is ********
Sending you infinite amounts of love xo”
First of all, S, I definitely do not have my shit together. Ha! But I’m glad I come off that way to you, and I appreciate you following up. Again, I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner — I have so much crap going on! Blargh! If I truly did have my shit together, I probably would have gotten back to you when you sent your first email. ;P My bad.
You sound kinda lost, S. Your email makes it seem like you dig my lifestyle — which is actually pretty shitty, honestly, so try to get that sort of “envy” out of your head. Let me remind you that I am a workaholic hermit who finds it incredibly hard to trust people because I’m afraid to get hurt, and so I bury myself in video games and solo hobbies that conveniently revolve around my career-path instead of focusing on a social life or dating.
Assuming this lonely way of life still appeals to you, then sure. I can kinda help with steering you in the right direction, I suppose.
Let’s begin with some back links to the way-too-many posts I’ve written on this very subject.
Shit I’ve written about your question.
I’ve banged out shit tons of articles on attracting loyal readers to your blog, defining your target audience, using social media to develop the relationship between you and your readers, networking effectively by being both passively engaging and by simply believing in yourself, etc. I’ve also written tons of personal motivational crap that’s supposed to make you feel good about yourself and reach for your dreams. For example, Jason wrote to me in the past asking me how I got started in art and writing, and my response basically answers the question you’ve asked above.
And I mean, I practically write about the same sort of junk every day for work, so if you’ve been keeping up at all with anything I’ve been dishing out on The Next Web, you’ll probably get a pretty good idea of what types of statistics and analytics I’m constantly monitoring to ensure online success.
Oh, and if I get progressively drunk throughout this response, blame it on the glass of wine I have every day after work to reward myself for a job well done. Yum. My lips are totally stained with Cabernet Sauvignon right now.
… Oh wait, you’re 18.
I mean, I’m drinking cranberry juice. I’m just getting so damn high off this cranberry juice. Yeah.
Current thoughts on writing and life.
Ah shit — you’re gonna hate me, but my roomie just invited me to get out of the apartment and go grab a drink somewhere, and … Well. Seeing as I really am the sort of person who is perfectly content with staying at home and wasting away — completely unaware of the outside world like Golem in The Hobbit or something — I tend to immediately agree when someone invites me to leave the safety of my cave.
So alrighty. Quickly.
Thoughts on writing and life.
My methodology isn’t going to be the fuckin’ same as some other Joe Shmoe, but if you’re really trying to follow along the same path that I’ve taken, then just take it from me straight and don’t complain if it doesn’t work for you.
Here’s the thing: writing really has to be your passion. You’ll notice that even throughout my ups and downs, my hires and fires, the bullshit that I’ve been through — I’ve continued to write. It’s just something that I do. I do it because it makes me feel good, because I feel like I can express myself better through written word, and because I feel like speech, content and information has so much more power when it’s visual or documented in some way rather than spoken aloud to the universe where it can be forgotten (although that’s eerily romantic in some twisted way).
I write so fucking much that people think there’s something wrong with me. In fact, there’s not a second in the day where I’m not thinking, “Wow, that was so cool. I should write that down.” Or wanting to share something interesting with the world, or wanting to tell my friends that something great just happened, or rant about something that’s bothering me, etc — writing is just something that I do because I can’t fucking help myself. It just happens.
I write impulsively. I write what comes to mind.
In my personal blog — the website you’re looking at right now — I write for myself. I write with the intention to relieve myself of whatever it is that’s clogging my thoughts because, to be honest, I don’t talk about the things I say here with anyone else in real life. I’ve always used writing as my “escape” because, frankly, I just don’t feel like I fit in with anyone else. I honestly feel like no one really “gets” me, and this is my freeing way of talking to the world and feeling like I’m being connected with someone out there — even though I have absolutely no idea who that someone is.
The beautiful consequences of writing 24/7.
The fortunate accident that’s come with this constant writing is the readership and audience I’ve developed through my blog. The loyalty between me and those who’ve been around long enough to see me grow from confused teen to confused adult is amazing — some of my readers have known me for a full decade.
I don’t even think I keep in touch with people in real life who I’ve known that long.
That’s incredible to me.
And then there’s my career. Because I’ve made so many friends through my blogging experience, they’ve reached out to me and connected me to new opportunities, encouraging me to succeed, motivating me to achieve what I never believed was possible before.
So I began writing for teams and publications. I sucked, by the way. I was shit. I had no idea what I was doing, and every new post was a learning process. Every new article I wrote was some experiment towards how eventually “great” I could become. I mean, I still suck. I look at what I’m writing now and I’m like, “What the fuck is this bullshit? Why do people read this?” And yet you’re here, and you’re asking for my advice, and I’m sorry but I can’t help but feel like you’re probably insane if you’ve made it this far and really think I know what I’m talking about — I don’t. I really don’t.
Life is what you make it.
I promise that you will never be able to recreate the same sort of lifestyle that I have because there are so many personal experiences that I’ve been through that make me who I am — there’s absolutely no way to mimic that. I mean, you can do some things like … Take pictures the way I do, do your makeup like me, start a blog and try to mimic my voice or something — whatever. But it won’t be the same.
My best piece of advice that I can give you is to stay hungry. Stay hungry for what you want, and whenever someone tries to spit in your face and tell you that you’re not good enough, prove them the fuck wrong. Whenever someone tries to get you down, keep pushing. I swear to god, that’s all it takes.
Passion, motivation, drive — never give up.
Also, don’t burn bridges. Form relationships with people when you can and hang onto the relationships that you know will matter. Understand that every person you meet has the potential to be in your life forever, or affect your reputation in some small way. Treat people decently. Treat people how you want to be treated. Do the things that make you happy, and be proud to be happy that you’re doing them.
Fuck everyone who tries to smother your flame and snuff out your candle — shine, baby. Shine like you don’t give a fuck. Shine like … Like, fuck everyone who thinks you’re not worth shit, because you really are. Believe in yourself, improve yourself, don’t let people get in your way, and always give back to the people who try and help you.
Just remember that you’re in control of your own life, and no one can ever tell you what to do. No one. Seriously. Not even your parents. Not your friends. No one. All of these people are just like, these echoes on the side that might sort of steer you in whatever direction they think is right for you — but don’t let them take the reigns. Just be open to their opinion. Don’t let what they say control your life.
Enough jabber! Time to bounce!
Okay. Seriously, S. I really gotta go.
I hope that helped. Read up on all that shit I linked to in my “Shit I’ve written about your question” section — it’s good stuff. Promise. The rest of this is just shit you’ll learn as you get older and realize how important it is to figure out who you are instead of what you think everyone else wants you to be.
Fuck everyone else.
Live your life.
You’re eighteen and feel confused? Shit, girl. I’m 24 and I have no idea what I’m doing. I do know, however, that I fucking love my job and I love my coworkers, and that in every situation in the past where I haven’t loved what I did — I peaced out.
Live the life you want to live. Fake it till you make it. Practice makes perfect and all that other bullshit — it’s fucking true. Those sayings exist because they come from real experiences.
And shit. I really gotta go get ready.
Apologies for whatever typos I’ve managed to let slip (I’m in a rush) as well as all of the cursing. I expect you’ll get over it.
XOXO Cheri XOXO