1. As artists, we cannot please everyone. We will not be everyone’s cup of ink.
2. Don’t get paid anything less than what you feel you are worth. Set a price and stick with it. If someone values you, they will pay it. If they won’t, don’t be afraid to walk away. Trust that someone wants to pay you what you’re worth.
3. One of the perks of being a freelancer is that I can work anywhere with a wi-fi signal. So go somewhere hot or cold at least once in your career and reap the benefits of this. (Thailand, Costa Rica, Norway, Greece and Australia all have wi-fi)
4. Don’t write to get famous. Some online posts might get a million views, some might get 56 views. Don’t let this be why you do it—do it to get the words out.
5. Have the intention of success but let success be one person being moved. Don’t worry about being popular or on the bestseller list.
6. Write for yourself.
7. The absolute worst thing that can happen is being told no.
There is a chance when you submit an article you will be told no. Having art turned away after summoning up the vulnerability to submit it never feels nice. It’s the same as not getting a job, a man or whatever it is, this always stinks. It’s rejection and in my heart sometimes feels like someone is saying ,” Sorry you are not good enough.” It’s terrifying submitting work and maybe getting nothing or maybe getting a “Sorry, this doesn’t fit” reply.
But at the end of the day, the worst thing that can possibly happen is someone saying no–and then you try again.
8. Say yes to yourself, every day. Wake up in the morning, point a finger at the universe and say, “I want this!” Don’t ask, don’t beg, don’t hope. Just know, unwaveringly, that the universe is going to make it happen.
9. “If you feel a f*ck yes and have the time and energy to reply to comments/readers—do.” ~ Tad Hargrave
If it feels like a f*ck no, or so-so—honor that. You cannot reply to everyone—there is too much living to do, too much to say with your pen and there is only one of you.
10. Do not feel guilty about not replying/deleting people who shit negativity on your art. Big companies have to manage trollers and so do you.
11. Trollers are energy vampires of the internet—if you spend all your time with them, you will be sucked dry.
12. Listen to feedback. All opinions are valuable and you may learn something—if you want to. Some of my strongest articles have come from responses to previous articles. Have gratitude for opposition.
13. Stick to your guns. Trust the process and trust your ability.
14. It isn’t my job to change a reader’s mind, listen or hold space.
15. A “like” is sufficient acknowledgment.
16. I am only accountable for my own feelings, actions and thoughts. I am not accountable for anyone else—specifically not the reactions/interpretations/personalizations/experience of my words.
17. Absolutely everyone will experience the words in their own way. Ultimately we cannot control their interpretation—let this go.
18. We are all “right” at the end of the day.
19. When I feel angry reading feedback, it is because I have no control.
We speak anger into existence when we are floundering, so we feel strong and sure in the fire of it all. When I get angry reading feedback it is often because someone didn’t get my “it” and I can do nothing about it. Be careful not to react from this place. Wait till you are in more control to reply.
20. I control nothing. Being an artist means I write, hit submit and that’s it—I’m done. Editors add love, publishers sling it into the world and then it is devoured by the eyes on screens. I’ve spent time stressing, hounding and constantly checking views or wondering why something flopped—but sometimes it’s easier to just let that energy baby go. I cannot control how it goes.
50 percent of this process is the reader, 50 percent is before, with you. Take a seat—you’re done.
21. Don’t be available to work 24/7.
Set your hours firmly.
Have structure and boundaries, take breaks. Schedule “off” time if you must. Don’t get swallowed whole—it’s easy to do this as a freelancer because work is available 24/7. Even your fingertips need a break. Let shutting the laptop be like leaving your desk.
22. Let it go.
23. Don’t let yourself be dicked around. Sometimes people don’t treat freelancers with the respect they deserve. You deserve to be respected all the same, even as you find your feet. Remember that your time is valuable. Your energy is valuable. If someone is not honoring you—f*ck em’. Even when you only have two clients—don’t be afraid to walk away if someone isn’t treating you well. You will find other work.
24. Make a contract with payment guidelines/deadlines. Get a lawyer—protect yourself and your words. I wish all humans where trustworthy, but they aren’t, so cover your ass and then trust humanity.
25. Don’t be so desperate to say yes to any kind of money; if the work bores your soul say no.
26. Don’t sell out. Don’t ever write for the people. Yes, of course—write for the people, but don’t write for them.
What I mean is: don’t cater solely to your audience or you’ll lose what it is that they love about you.
27. If you are paid to write for someone, only say yes if it aligns with your voice and what you feel you are on this earth to create. Don’t get so excited that someone wants to pay you that you forget why you write.
28. F*ck lists.
I refuse to write lists (other than this one). Not everything should be a list. Our world is a society full of people with the attention span of gerbils—that’s not my fault, or yours.
29. Just because it’s trending doesn’t mean you have to write about it.
30. Be careful not to jump on the trending train when it involves someone’s death—if you don’t have something valuable to say, you’re being cheap. Don’t know much about Robin Williams? Don’t write about Robin Williams.
31. Be prepared to take on extra jobs if and when you need to. Support yourself first. Being broke isn’t romantic and self care is a vital part of creativity.
32. You don’t have to go to Post Secondary school to write. With a good mentor, we can teach ourselves almost anything.
33. Surround yourself with artists/mentors who are stubborn enough to do what they love—it will rub off on you.
34. People may mimic your voice, adopt your style, try to rip you off—but not one will do it like you do. Call people on their sh*t if they try to take your work but do not be afraid. No one will do it like you.
35. There are tiny energy fingers attached to each notification.
36. Your voice has a place—if you haven’t found it, you will. Don’t settle for a publication that doesn’t fit.
37. When people react strongly, they are often triggered by their miserable lives staring them in the face through your pen—don’t take it all personally.
38. Learn to walk your insecurity off the plank, and whack your ego down regularly.
39. Don’t ask for opinions, or approval with your art. You know best. Is it sh*t? Is it from the core? You know, they don’t know. Hurtle your words at the world with confidence. Our world will always need more art.
40. If you can self publish—do. Put all your books in a box, pack a sleeping bag, a petro gas burner and push your words on the ground at the world.
41. “Don’t try” ~ Bukowski
If the words don’t come, don’t force them.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Janne Robinson
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: author’s own