I recently started writing about YA books for the MTV News website, and Michelle kindly invited me to talk about the experience at IWSG, which is perfect because my insecurities almost kept me from getting the freelancing gig.
When I first saw the listing, it sounded so awesome, but that tiny voice in my head immediately convinced me to forget about it. It reminded me I had no experience as a freelancer. I didn’t know enough about YA books to put myself out there as an expert. They’d never hire me anyway so why bother.
And stupid me listened to that voice and decided not to apply.
But for the next two days, I couldn’t stop thinking about the job: ideas for my application, ideas for articles, picturing myself with a byline on the MTV website.
But as I’d get pumped up about it, that tiny, nasty voice would intrude again, and I’d let insecurity and doubt take over and shove the idea to the back of my mind.
But the itch for the job refused to completely go away.
So I finally said, “Screw you, tiny voice! I don’t have anything to lose by trying!”
If you’d like to read more about the application process and even see the gif-tastic application that landed me the job, click here.
I couldn’t believe it when I got the email telling me I was hired. I was so thrilled I even teared up a little.
But of course those excited feelings only lasted a little while before doubt crept back into my brain. Oh no, I had fooled them into hiring me. Now I was going to be a complete disaster and embarrass myself. And not just on a small scale, but on a HUGE platform with tons of people reading.
It didn’t help allay my fears that my editor didn’t like any of my first fourteen pitches.
The way it works is that I come up with ideas for articles and send my editor a potential title and a sentence or two describing what the article would be about. If he likes the pitch, he gives me a due date. Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting anything approved and became convinced the whole thing was a mistake and that I should quit.
But I shared my fears with a group of awesome friends, and they helped calm me down. Together we went through past articles on the MTV website, and they helped me brainstorm new ideas. I picked four of them, fleshed them out, and sent them to my editor, and he approved three of them. Whoohoo - I finally had my first stories to write!
And once again, the elation only lasted a short time before the paralyzing fear of actually writing a story for MTV hit with a vengeance. But I was also determined to do a good job, so I ignored those fears and got to work.
My first story was about Nancy Drew, and even though I had read a ton of the books when I was young, I didn’t remember a lot about them. So I got to googling. I found out all kinds of stuff I never knew about Nancy and her legacy, which was a cool bonus.
Once I wrote the article, I started looking for gifs. I’d never done much with gifs before, but they are a big part of MTV articles, so I’ve been learning a lot on the fly. But the gif hunt (or making my own gifs) has turned out to be a lot of fun – pretty much my favorite part of putting these articles together.
I was so nervous when I emailed my first article to my editor - I even felt a tad nauseous as I pressed Send. But he loved it and said it was a lot of fun. Whew! And then once it was published on the site, it did well and got a lot of shares. Double whew!
With a successful article under my belt, I had a lot of confidence going into the next ones. That nagging, doubting voice still rears its head occasionally when pitches get rejected or the writing feels boring and flat, but I press forward anyway. That’s the key for me: I can’t stop the voice of insecurity, but I can try to prove it wrong. And because I eventually managed to dismiss what the voice had to say about applying for the job, I’m having a ton of fun writing these articles, and it’s a complete thrill seeing my name on the MTV website and knowing so many people are reading my words.
Here are two of my articles if you’re interested:
13 Reasons Nancy Drew Is A Kick-Ass 85-Year-Old Teen http://www.mtv.com/news/2259420/nancy-drew-awesome-teen/
The Brooding YA Bad Boy Of Your Dreams Finally Opens Up http://www.mtv.com/news/2289546/brooding-ya-hero-opens-up/
I haven’t been doing this long enough to feel qualified to give advice, but I will say if you decide to freelance, make sure you’re organized. I have a spreadsheet where I track article deadlines, when I turn them in, whether I’ve included them in a timesheet, and when I get paid for them. Otherwise, I’d be a complete mess.
I had never considered freelancing before this opportunity came along, but I know there are a ton of resources out there for finding freelance jobs. So if you think you’d be interested in freelancing, GO FOR IT! Don’t let that tiny voice that likes to be so negative talk you out of it.
You have nothing to lose by trying, and you might end up with a very cool job!