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


Monster jobs, ripe for the picking

Every time I get depressed about my job, I go to my email inbox.

It almost always reminds me, life could be worse.

cage worker
Working for a living

Friday, when I was contemplating how busy I was compared to my friends who were traveling across the country, I got an email from

According to them, I am uniquely qualified to be: an HVAC technician, a vending machine route supervisor, end-user technology support for a feminine hygiene and toilet paper manufacturer (I shit you not), a chain restaurant general manager and an activity director for a senior living center.


So much for the English degree.

Now, I have never touched an HVAC unit, outside of the thermostat, and the only time I’ve ever diagnosed that anything was wrong with one was when ours started squealing at 2 a.m. on one of those nights when it was 267 degrees outside. My diagnosis? It was about to be shot if it didn’t find the will to work. It did stop squealing after I yelled at it several times. The repairman we called the next day said there was nothing wrong with it. I like to think it just decided to shape up.

Oh! The Vending Machine Supervisor is here! Huzzah! said no one ever...
Oh! The Vending Machine Supervisor is here! Huzzah! said no one ever…

And I wouldn’t be a vending machine route supervisor if you paid me to – which of course, I guess is the reason for the ad – mostly because I don’t like getting yelled at. No one ever says “Oh! Thank GOD, the vending machine supervisor is here! The Snickers bar row is refilled! Our lives are complete! Huzzah!” No, what they say is “Hey, you! Three weeks ago this stupid machine ate my 75 cents causing me to nearly pass out from not getting my afternoon Skittles sugar rush, I want my money back WITH INTEREST!”

Taste the rainbow indeed.

I don’t know what kind of end user technology support a toilet paper manufacturer could possibly need (“No, ma’am… it doesn’t really matter if the roll goes over or hangs under.” “Yes, ma’am, it’s okay to use it to blow your nose, so long as you don’t do that AFTER you’ve used it for something else.” “No, sir, I’m pretty sure the fact that your wife is a wadder when it comes to the tp in question, does not have anything to do with your plumbing issues. I take it you’re a folder?” And yes, I looked it up… 38 percent of women are wadders; where as 52 percent of men are folders. Only 20 percent of people are wrappers. Six percent don’t know… Uhm, just a question… how do you NOT KNOW? Thank God Monster didn’t say I should start a career as a survey taker.)

 “No, sir, I’m pretty sure the fact that your wife is a wadder when it comes to the tp in question, does not have anything to do with your plumbing issues. I take it you’re a folder?”

More over, I’ve worked in restaurants before and suffice it to say, that’s pretty much the reason I finished college. And since most of my activities involve alcohol and/or signing release forms, I’m pretty sure I’m not the person to be the activities director for a senior citizens community… although that does give new meaning to white water rafting, now doesn’t it?

I told Monster I had management experience and excelled in communications and marketing. Either every job on the face of the planet now requires those qualifications, or, and I’m thinking this is more likely, there are just way too many English and marketing majors out there.

There are just too many people who know how to write and promote businesses all applying for the same jobs. Which would leave very few left for me, if I ever decided to actually leave the job I’m in now.

So, I have a thought… let’s round up all of the unemployed English and marketing majors and let them compete, a la “The Hunger Games,” for survival. We can drop them all in the wild and let them write or market their way out.

English majors and marketing majors should compete for jobs in a more satisfying way...
English majors and marketing majors should compete for jobs in a more satisfying way…

Pen a great paragraph and you get a map to the exit. Make a killer logo out of twigs and stones and you get food for the rest of the game. Promote your cause via social media which goes viral and gets you more votes than Delvin on “The Voice,” and you win your way out of the wilderness and into a job as a vending machine route supervisor.

It really probably won’t be good for the English major community.

But it sure as hell will make being already gainfully employed seem a lot more appealing.


(c) Copyright Liz Carey 2014