You Need To Wear Many Hats… But You Shouldn’t Wear Them All

You can't wear ALL the hats. You'll just look silly.

Last month, I wrote a piece on spec for a new online startup. I wouldn’t typically do such a thing, but I was excited about the forthcoming website, and the project was backed by several companies I admired.

When the piece was killed, I was disappointed, but the editor I was in contact with assured me it had nothing to do with me. She told me that her and her superiors liked my writing style, and wanted to give me another assignment. Despite misgivings, I went ahead with it, working my ass off to get the piece done before deadline.

Then, the second piece was killed. We like your writing, the editor wrote to me, but the two posts you’ve written for us fail to demonstrate an understanding of what people are interested in or intrigued by.

Lemme tell you. That email really ruined my day.

Yes, I was angry at myself for doing work on spec. Twice. But I was more upset because I felt insulted by the implication that I didn’t know what people wanted to read… and I was the target audience!

I started to doubt my abilities as a writer. (Surprise, surprise.) I knew that anonymous commenters and online trolls were best ignored, but editors? Where could I go from here?

Then, a well-paying job floated in from a new client. Another regular client approached me with several more projects. I talked another editor into doubling their rates for me. I landed a new coaching client.

I realized:

I can’t please everyone. Nor should I want to. Because when you try to write for everyone, you end up writing for no one.

I’m not implying you should ignore contrary comments from your editors because you’re awesome and perfect and poop word glitter. No. Please do take that constructive criticism from the editors whose judgment you trust, and use it to become even awesomer.

What I am saying is that you can’t be the right fit for every editor. And that’s okay.

Take what you excel at and for the love of god run with it.

Have you ever received criticism from an editor that gave you pause? How did you bounce back?

Related: They Hate Me! They Really Hate Me!, The Vulnerability of Writers, Has the Editing Process Crushed Your Soul?, Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes