In dealing with mental health problems, it’s natural to also deal with self-esteem and self-worth issues which I find more and more ironic every day. Statistics indicate a significant amount of writers and authors who produce brilliant work, are also inflicted with issues concerning mental health. My favorite list is one from Listal that details award-winning authors and their actual or assumed diagnosis. Jack Kerouac was thought to be schizophrenic, Kafka endured years of severe depression, and many others were diagnosed with similar ailments.
Here’s an article about famous actors with mental health disorders.
I’m a PIMP! Yes, you heard me. I struggle daily with my talent to produce words, with overwhelming feelings of poor self-worth, inadequacies, and self-esteem problemos! BIG TIME!
AND still…. I spend 5-8 hours a day pimping myself out to editors, social media sites, friends, family, and any damn person who’ll read something I wrote. I’m still baffled.
I’m too poor to hire someone so I pimp my writing out. A lot. My experience with pimping myself out has turned me into a modern day Madam—more commonly referred to as a “SPAMMER” — I admit it.
EVEN MORE ironic?
After intense pep talks with the friends living in my head (we need encouragement to “promote” my work), I become more depressed because of the obsession to check the stats on an hourly basis.
Like clockwork, I share a new blog on Facebook and almost ALWAYS immediately receive mobile notifications—“One friend ‘liked’ your new post.” My heart races, anticipation mounts….
In 2000, I accidentally landed my first real office job. I worked in a cubicle (OK, semi-office job), as a call center representative with thirty-three co-workers in a space built for about five. It was here I learned why the world loved the nine to five lifestyle, and why office jobs were so popular.
In between calls, we were allowed to use the Internet to enhance our skills as customer service reps. We were allowed to read, learn, and surf the Web during down time as long as goals were met and call quality remained top-notch.
Keep in mind, the Internet was “relatively” new back in those days. There wasn’t easy access to the world via smartphone, there were FEW laptops (if any), and people with home computers were “special” and “rich”–in my mind anyway.
So, this newly discovered vessel was unbelievably exciting to me.
These office prodigies educated me, and I was in awe!
I had spent my adult life working nights as a poker dealer, and a bartender. I worked nights because the tips were better, and had never had an office job.
I had adamantly refused to be normal and couldn’t imagine working in an office or working for a paycheck.
It all became clear one morning, on the third floor, in a small office space, in the middle of Wisconsin…….
Bored.com became my favorite website during those breaks intended to enhance my productivity, and level of expertise in the field of customer service. It was also during this time as well that my cyber-social life began to explode.
I learned how to email, how to find old friends at reunion sites (WAY before Facebook), and after a quick call to my mom, learned to send an attachment. I wrote letters to people I hadn’t “seen in forever” (I graduated high school seven years earlier), and loved keeping in touch with the group of friends I had just moved away from in California.
Wisconsin was amazing, but the homesick was beginning to set in. Email correspondence cured that.
I emailed everyone (I was popular, ya know!) and waited eagerly for responses. That same year I learned how to use the “refresh” button and found myself cutting customers off so I could refresh my email account. I loved this form of communication.
I “talked” to my Chris the most. He had just graduated from Sacramento State, and found a writing job that allowed him to travel, interview, and share his love of music.
I think I was secretly jealous.
Chris sent me (and still does, by the way), the most hilarious emails ever! During my time in Wisconsin he amused me with stories about the drunk girls we used to work with, his tortured life interviewing Primadonna (not MADONNA!) music artists, and perspectives on the world that he “needed to write” about.
At this point in my life, I was still taking ball point to the Composition book and calling it poetry.
I was totally jealous.
My diligence as a daily journal-keeper had dwindled. I was rarely inspired to write unless drunk, and the illusion of putting music to my words was beginning to fad. I was 25-years old, and my chance at fame had long passed. I was too old to ever be a songwriter, (and too over-dramatic to take a peek at reality!).
Old school email.
So I wrote emails-For the very first time in my life.
JAN 8, 2001 DEAR CHRIS, THAT WAS THE FUNNIEST EMAIL I HAVE EVER READ!!!!!!!! MAN, I MISS YOU GUYS. THOSE CHICKS ARE STUPID AND SO MUCH DRAMA!! GOOD FOR US THOUGH BECAUSE THEY MAKE THE BEST STORIES. WE NEED TO BECOME WRITERS!!!!! LETS WRITE SOMETHING!!! CASINO STUFF? ANYWAY—-WISCONSIN IS COLD AS SHIT BUT SO MUCH FUN. ILL CALL YOU AGAIN SOMETIME WITH ANOTHER DRUNK KARAOKE SONG TO SING YOU? CAN YOU BELIEVE SOMEONE GAVE ME A JOB AS A BARTENDER/ FUNNY!!!!!!!! GOTTA TAKE A CLL- WRITE BACK SOON ROBIN
January 8, 2001 Dear Robin, Okay, I can’t handle it anymore, what the hell is up with your emails? Every time I read one of them, I feel like you’re yelling at me. HAHAHA! The ALL CAPS, and exclamation points scare me!!!!!
Anyway, the girls here are still the same-hilarious, chain-smoking, white trash, and always ready to party. Of course I love them.
Well, I have to go—-I think my Editor is going to make me interview Britney Spears this week (I WANT MADONNA!), and I’m loathing the thought of it. I have no idea what sort of questions to ask because I could care less.
Talk to you soon.
p style=”padding-left:30px;”>JANUARY 8, 2001 CHRIS!!!!!!!!!! WHAT THE HELL!! I DON’T KNOW HOW TO TYPE!! WITH THE SHIFT THINGY AND SHIT—-IT’S CONFUSING!!! I DIDN’T’ TAKE TYPING BECAUSE I DIDN’T EVER PLAN ON HAVING A TYPEWRITER OR BEING A SECRETARY!!! HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO PREDICT THE FUTURE AND KNOW COMPUTERS AND THE INTERNET WOULD TAKE OVER? IT TAKES ME 45 MINUTES TO FIND LETTER G. I HATE THIS SHIT.
——————— It took me about six years to type well enough to attempt a career as a writer. In addition to passing on the chance to take a typing class, I also had a drunk as a high-school English teacher. I was never formally trained to write. You can read more about my English teacher, (who called me Sparrow, instead of Robin, lol!), and my miseducation (<—-got that word from Lauryn Hill) in the art of punctuation, and grammar-“Suck It Grammar!” that I published at Bubblews.
My apologies if I offend you. I do pay for grammar software, but sometimes even it gives up on me.
I’m not really sure how it all happened but at the age of 31, and with very little effort, I became a freelance writer.
In 2006 I began writing 500-700 word articles that were keyword specific, Search Engine Optimized and rewrites. Each article required research, links, and unique content. I was working full-time as a poker dealer during the day but at night, I was living the glamorous life of a writer.
Let me back up- I can’t remember if I ever consciously thought about, or wanted to be a writer. I kept a journal consistently during high school and early into my 20s. As the years went on, my journal became a place for vulnerability and a sort of poetry.
I wanted to write songs but didn’t know how to play an instrument so that seemed impossible. I wrote words instead.
Sometimes I cut words out of magazines and arranged them to create “tragic” poetry—would be lyrics–if I only knew three guitar chords.
When the world shifted from ink pens to keyboards, I was SCREWED!
How the hell could computers not be a passing fancy? In high school I laughed at the typing class students (because I was so cool, being in the F.F.A and all) and swore, I would never learn to type (or sew—two decisions I grew to regret).
I went a very long time defending my high school stance and upholding the anti-typing vow.
The Beginning of My Freelance Career
I had giant balls in January, 2006 when I decided to submit a personal essay about being a new mother to a writing site. Imagine my surprise when two weeks later I received this email,
“Robin, I’d love to feature this story on my website as it is creative, humorous, and a fun read. I did edit the text quite a bit to adhere to the guidelines of writing for the Web, and to correct grammar and punctuation errors. I look forward to future submissions and strongly recommend a refresher in grammar.”
Holy crap! I was going to be famous!
Naturally, This is What I Did Next
I applied for writing jobs. Literally, thought I was on my way to a feature in Vogue.
I got my first gig within no time.
My “editor” sent five orders at a time. I didn’t choose the topic or negotiate word count or any details. The instructions for each article were simple. I didn’t know then but I know now-I was being primed for sweat-shop labor in the content mill industry.
This is what I received:
Topic to research (ex: Summer vacation in Paris, France-Things to do, places to stay, etc.)
Required keywords and density (ex: 15%)
Required word count (MIN 500/Maximum 1,000)
Deadline (ex: 24 hours)
Rate of pay
I spent hours perfecting each piece. I researched hostels, sightseeing, foreign travel tips, and fun ideas for the International traveler. I was bored to death and frustrated easily and considered myself to be a tortured writer like all the most famous ones before me.
I wrote a paragraph and then hastily deleted it-called it junk-in obvious imitation of the writer’s I envisioned in my head. I cured writers block with mundane tasks like preparing dinner and worked furiously into the wee hours of the morning.
I thought I was Tolstoy.
I was writing website content.
As a ghostwriter.
For a ghostwriter.
Outsourcing Writer Actually Taught Me How to Write
I had no concept that my “work”–expertly crafted with proper keyword density and links to destinations in Paris–would be credited to some chump writer who had perfectly executed the system of Capitalism.
I knew right away that I was doing something right when after the first 5-10 articles; I received no revision requests or notes about editing. I sucked at punctuation (still do) and was honest about appreciating constructive feedback. I was inundated with requests to write more and was on cloud nine every time she commented on my skill as a writer.
BAM! I was in….
I landed this gig after to replying to a job posting and WAS THRILLED to have “finally” made it into the world of writers.
I was being paid $1-$3 per article. HAHAHAHA…..
I didn’t know enough to bitch about it.
It didn’t take me long to see I was being “scammed” by another writer. I was so new and naive but extremely arrogant as well.
I refused to read articles that offered advice to new writers. I wanted to figure it all out myself. I didn’t want to spend hours researching the industry of writing.
I just wanted to write….and, meet Oprah.
After all, I was published online after my very FIRST submission. DUH! I was a natural.
Today, I am writing full-time, learning about punctuation, and developing a career that I’m proud of.
I’ve had to put the creative writing on-hold for the moment, but I’m not going to give up. I’ve still got some junk in the trunk that’s gonna need some editing, and a place to live.
When I tell people I work from home the most common response is, “Lucky! I wish I could.” While most of the time it’s a fantastic gig, there is a lot of other “work” involved in working from home. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
It’s 11:18 AM on Wednesday and I’ve already sent my man to work, kid to school, written an article on the power of the subconscious-mind (duly noted many techniques!), thawed and browned chicken and potatoes (recipe to follow), fielded PTA emails, sent out tweets promoting my homeless article, researched new topics to write, showered (only because I have an appointment today), killed time looking at YouTube videos, wiped baseboards in kitchen and bathroom, killed a spider (before my eight-year old saw it!) and there’s still at least 12 more hours left to this day.
I work from home.
Do I love it?
How I Work From Home?
I’m a writer. Glamour aside, I write to survive. I mostly produce website content, and personal perspectives like the one you’re reading now. I worked as a poker dealer for seventeen years which was a job that consisted of a lot of night shifts. Today, my children are in school and that means night-time is their time.
So, I write….during the day, and here and there in the evenings (I’m picking up on this story at 7:18 PM) and after midnight. In between that; I scrub floors, wash laundry, pick up kids, serve dinner, play kick board, watch Catfish: The TV Show, help with homework, tweet, Facebook, read, write a letter, knock down cobwebs, sanitize toilets, scoop ice cream, watch Who The Bleep Did I Marry?, tuck everyone into bed, try to sleep, get up, get down, write some more, watch True Tori, check for writing jobs, start an application, update resume, promote writing, fall asleep… Up again at 4:30 AM, check my phone, close my eyes, hit snooze, sleep another hour and start all over.
I love it!
How to make it Work?
I need a better system. I know this. I love to be scattered so this gig works for me. For the more structured work-at-home-mom, I suggest a schedule. It’s a process of discipline and figuring out an order of importance. For the most part, I have a schedule. But, most days are eerily similar to the one described today. I love the freedom and I love the flexibility. I am able to help with field trips and organizations within the school. I’m able to spend quality time with my family which is the most important.
I am a work in process and am still diligently trying to work out a schedule that is more conducive to effectively managing
In a skillet, grill chopped up onion, garlic, salt and pepper in a mix of butter and olive oil.
Throw in quartered red potatoes and cook until brown.
My style of writing is like me —- Scattered. Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that I’m a creative writer who accidentally fell into online content writing in 2006. Prior to learning about assignments, deadlines, and keyword placement, I wrote in my black and white composition book and called it genius. Ok, I know, I know.
I’d like to dive back in as a writer gracefully. I’d like to share a unique voice, and a seat at lunch with Oprah; however, I’m belly flopping into content marketing, and sharing a seat at lunch with the cool kids who blog.
As an aspiring writer, I am completing applications for content mills as quickly as an email spammer announcing lottery winnings. It’s overwhelming, daunting, frustrating, and exhilarating all in one. Ultimately, I’d rather write purely from the heart, but I realize, that’s not an option yet. I’m working for companies and individuals that need information pertaining to their niche; my own will have to wait.
Mental Note: Reply to collect three million dollar winnings today (almost forgot!).
I started to write again in April 2014, after a three-year break. I’m actively applying for jobs writing content, in an attempt to generate consistent cash flow. I was once a blogger who was Stalking Donald Miller in my pursuit to find religion after reading the inspirational book, Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. In the middle of that dream, life happened, and I was unable to continue, so I gave up.
In retrospect, I owe a lot to the inspiration of that book. It ultimately transformed my life. I read the book as quickly as I could and couldn’t help writing my perspectives as they corresponded to each chapter. I (for some odd reason) convinced myself I could blog, and within a week, spent enough mornings at Starbucks to kick-off the old’ God Blog. It is no longer available online but considering it received a maximum of 53-page views in a week, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to bring back to life.
What’s that? Correct, there’s one niche.
These days as a writer who is solely looking to land enough gigs each month to work from home, I’m hardly concerned with personal styles of creativity, and more focused on fast income.
I am repeatedly asked two questions:
What’s your niche?
Define your specialities as a writer?
Here’s my answer:
“Dude, I don’t need a niche, I know everything.
What I don’t know, I Google.”
I understand I missed the mark, and I realize that a niche is in my own best interest. I just can’t decide where to spend all my time. Until then, enjoy the ramblings of a creative writer trying to break free of the content world while exploring all the things that could be easily defined as a niche.
UPDATE: Six Months Later
The water is amazing! Come on, jump in. Through the fear, I belly-flopped into an unbelievably fantastic pool of opportunity, and although I’m still doggie paddling, I love it. I’ve started to include affiliate links from Amazon into my content links from Amazon into my content and I’m giving it an honest effort.
I’m a storyteller, not a blogger with valuable information. I like to learn from others, and I think a lot of people are the same way. I hope you read the story, and it moves you.
The journey in re-discovering the content marketing world has been littered in education. The lessons I’ve learned have helped me finally….FINALLY, narrow down four niche markets I’d like to focus on.education and a lot of reading. The lessons I’ve learned have helped me finally, (finally!) narrow down four niche markets I’d like to focus on.
I have some fun hobbies (in my opinion), and will pass on what I know to others who are searching for information. Look for me soon in the world of writing, poker and selling online vintage. I’m excited to embark on this adventure and look forward to you riding shotgun.