Seven ways to screw up your writing career

When you’re freelance writing, you’ll find there are a million people out there who will tell you how to succeed… provided you give them $49.95 per month for a minimum of the rest of your natural-born life.

But there aren’t a lot of people willing to tell you what you shouldn’t do.

Luckily, I’m here to help.

facebook-image1. Start your morning off with a quick look at Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site. I know… how can you live without seeing the latest incendiary post about the President, or your college roommate’s daughter’s best friend’s new cat video? Perish the thought, right? If you really, REALLY don’t want to succeed, make sure you get into an argument with that friend from elementary school over whether or not people who park in handicapped spots should be shot on sight, and then go out and try to find an amusing cat video to upload.

2. Treat your career like a hobby. Don’t worry about things like Tax ID numbers, bookkeepers, separate checking accounts and income projections. In fact, don’t even keep track of all of your contacts or reach out to them regularly. It’s not like you actually want to make a living, right? The mere thought of being a work-at-home writer is enough. No need to keep track of invoices, receivables, tax information and receipts – that’s all for losers. Besides, everyone else thinks you sit around in your underwear playing solitaire all day so you might as well, right?

3. Forget to find new assignments on a regular basis. If you’re like most people, you “know” you’re a good writer (isn’t everyone?) and what you have to say is much more pajamaseloquent and important than anything anyone else has to say. So, really, people should be coming to you, begging you to write for them, shouldn’t they? Put on those comfy slippers and those flannel pajama bottoms and just wait for them to contact you. Once the word gets out about how great you are, they will come flocking to your door.

4. Don’t market yourself. Nope, nope-ity nope, nope, nope. No need to get a web site, a Facebook page, a blog, a Twitter and Instagram account or business cards. Just be yourself, see above and wait for assignments to come pouring in.

clock-image5. Give top priority to making sure you only work a six or seven hour day. Nothing says success like only having to work four hours a week, right? And if you have to work more than eight hours a day, you must be doing something wrong. No one knows better than you how much more important it is to relax, unwind and keep your reading up, rather than working hard and earning your stripes.

6. Stop trying to learn. Instead of listening to others who work at writing for a living, make sure that you keep yourself above it all. There’s no need to learn about social media marketing, SEO search terms, monetizing your blog or how to craft a sentence. Who needs that stuff? You just need a few articles a month so you can sit back and write the Great American Novel. It’s a no-brainer. Who needs growth and education when you have brilliance behind you?

unprofessional-habits7. Definitely, above all else, don’t be professional. Make sure that you don’t double check your work, keep good notes about sources and their contact information, meet deadlines or work well with other people, like editors and photographers. That just screams “amateur!” You’re a diva. Every word you write is pure genius! Editors should consider themselves lucky that you deigned to allow them to use your prosaic gems.

Granted, I am by no means the most successful freelance writer out there. But I am making a living from it. And I am getting paid for my work. And I have learned a few things in the two years that I’ve been doing this. There’s no guarantee that my experience will be the same as your experience, but I can tell you for a fact, there’s nothing that will kill your freelance career quicker than believing you are above it all. Do the work, the hard work, of building a base of clients and marketing yourself as a writer, and you should be fine.

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2017

All images remain the property of their owners


Mommy Snearest

There are days when I find myself trying to measure up to the idea of the perfect mom.

You know the ones… they’re online – on Twitter and on Facebook – always talking about their perfect lives and their perfect families and their perfect days at home, working around the house.


They’re the ones that are all matchy-matchy, from their bows in their hair to their designer shoes. And while they talk about their problems, they actually don’t have any because their kids are actually perfect, as are their husbands, their dogs and their houses.

While there are days I wish I could live like them, the fact of the matter is I will never live like them.

In the first place, I have to work for a living. In the second place, I’m about as far from perfect as you can get. And in the third place, I just wasn’t brought up that way.

Don’t get me wrong; my mom brought me up right. If it weren’t for my mother, I would still be dressing in nothing but jeans and t-shirts… okay, I still do that on the weekends, but that doesn’t count. I mean, if it weren’t for my mother, I would not be making a conscious effort to have my underwear match my outfits… kinda like that clean underwear mama mantra on steroids.

It’s just that she also brought me up to be myself and to love who I was instead of always trying to live someone else’s life.

So, that kind of mom isn’t really my way of life.

They are the moms who drive their BMWs to the local organic farm to purchase local fresh produce for their gourmet meals, made possible by the fact that they have all the time in the world to drive to the organic farm and come home and cook a gourmet meal.

I am the mom who roars up to the farmers’ market in her Jeep, in a tie-dye t-shirt and matching sunglasses, with INXS blaring out the windows and grabs the closest box of strawberries to save a few minutes before roaring home to throw something together for dinner.

They are the moms who “salon” to have all manner of their body hair teased, tweezed, tweaked or otherwise tamed.

cellphone mom

I am the mom who calls her kid from the back porch and asks them to bring her a razor, because she missed some hairs while she was in the shower.

True story. Just happened.

They’re the moms whose housekeeper takes care of all of the problems in the house while they “work” on their “mommy blog” next to the pool.

I am the mom who writes at night after my second glass of wine and sweeping the kitchen floor for the seventh time since I got home from work.

And while they are the moms whose children were in their perfectly spotless rooms before Mother’s Day making them gifts to celebrate their motherliness – like knitting them a coffeemaker to replace their broken one, or creating art out of tooth picks and dryer lint that would most certainly be hanging in the Louvre if it weren’t on her walls, I am the mom whose kids borrowed my credit card last weekend to buy my Mother’s Day present and argued for the better part of an hour over whose was better.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge those moms their perfect lives, and I’m sure they are happy.

There’s just always that niggling little voice in the back of my head that reminds me I am not one of them. And that for some reason, I should strive to be one of them.

But I can’t live like that.


cool momI’m not home baking cookies; I’m at work. I’m not president of the PTA – I did that once. It wasn’t pretty. I’m don’t have dinner ready by the time they and their father get home from their important things. I slap together the occasional casserole when I have my own important things to do.

And more than that, I’m not perfect. I have curves. I haven’t had the same hair color six months in a row since I was 29. I have a wardrobe that consists primarily of jeans, stretch pants and business attire in red, black, white and tan. I’m a workaholic. I live in flip-flops and bare feet whenever I can from April until November. I can be a little crazy.

Stop rolling your eyes and saying “a little?”

I’m not the ideal mom to others, I suppose, but my kids and husband think I’m pretty okay, even when I dance in the grocery store aisle or sing off key.

I guess all that’s important is that I’m the ideal mom to them.

I can live with that.

(c) Liz Carey 2014

How to Piss Off Your Kids 21st Century Style

Remember when you were a kid and your Mom would ask about your “little friends”? It never failed to make my blood boil when she said that. What the hell, did she want to tick me off with that?

Now that I’m a parent, I really don’t want to intentionally torch my relationship with my sons, most of the time. But there are times when you just want to tweak their little noses. Part of being a parent is pissing off your kids. It’s just a natural part of life. When they’re young and vulnerable, we think they’re cute and we want to hold them and protect them and take care of them. It’s when they turn into adolescents that we realize we want them out of the house as soon as possible and hope they take their smarmy attitude with them.

And that’s good because otherwise, they’d all end up getting jobs delivering pizzas and living in our basements watching science fiction or playing video games until they’re in their 30s. That’s a situation no one wants.

These days, there’s just a plethora of things you can do to really torque off your kids.

1)     Sing and dance in the grocery store. Yeah. If parents weren’t meant to dance in the grocery store they wouldn’t play Jack Johnson. Besides, what else are you going to do to ignore the constant “Hey, Mom, can we get this?” and the ever present “But I promise I’ll pay you back!” that seems to go on ad infinitum with grocery shopping. Dancing next to the taco kits is a sure fired way to send them running to the magazine aisle.

2)     Start using their vocabulary – nothing sucks the coolness out of a word more for a teen than having it come out of your mom’s mouth. Start using words like “Jank,” “Nappy” and “Miz” in everyday conversation and see how quickly it loses its luster. In fact, I suggest you do this with any phrase you detest or have heard to the point of nausea…

3)     Post pictures of them as a baby on Facebook, tag them and make comments about how cute they look in whatever baby outfit they are wearing. Ditto for the cute naked butt pics from infanthood.

4)     Comment on their Facebook status updates. There’s nothing less cool than having your “Mom” say something dorky when you’re trying to impress some chic. “Like” their status? You might as well be hugging them in public. And follow them and/or their friends on Twitter? Be prepared to get the “Mooooom! That is SOOOOOO weird!!!”

5)     Dance in the car. As embarrassing as it is for you to get caught singing at the top of your lungs at a stop light, or seat dancing to the newest P!nk song, it’s mortifying for them. Especially when you’re in the car rider pick-up line.

6)     Like cooler music than them or force them to listen to 80s and 90s dance music. When their friends like your music, better than they like their music? SCORE!! With any luck, you’ll end up having them sing AC/DC or Aerosmith to you as their new “fave old school jam.” Word.

7)     Drag them to the library, museum, cultural exhibit of the day. What better way to jerk your kids around than to make them learn something? Better yet, do a craft that is uber-appealing, but has educational value, like making rock candy… they’ll want to do it so much, but there’s that icky “Science Lesson” component that makes them truly want to hate it… Pure parental torture. Insert evil witch cackle here.

8)     Play with their hair or other features in public. I’m not just talking about mom spit. I mean, just the mere suggestion that you’re going to fix their disheveled hair with your fingertips is enough to get the “Moooooooom” moan and eye roll. Of course they look better when you’re done, but they’ll just mess it all up again when you turn your back. Better to just stand there and do it constantly until they get really ticked and agree to cut their hair in some other style than the Beiber.

9)     Figure out dorky names to call them in public. Some things never change. “Booger Bear” may have been cute when they were five, but once they get past eight, you’re doomed if you use it in public. However, it’s a good tool to use if you want them to stop talking to you and fume for a while. “Can you grab the door for me Booger Bear?” in front of their friends will almost assure that you’ll sit interruption free in front of the television for hours.

10)   Join groups on Facebook discussing with other parents how to tick off their kids. DOUBLE SCORE! Triple points if you post pics of their reactions when you follow a suggestion.


© Liz Carey 2014