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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

Why You Should Try

I wrote this post five years (and one week) ago and published it on my Facebook News feed.

It appeared last week as a "Facebook memory", and I thought it was worth a share.


Two weeks ago, on a whim, I responded to an ad looking for experienced freelance writers for an online magazine.

I'm still not quite sure why I applied, because I have zero experience writing professionally. But I like to write. In fact, aside from "business" and "teaching", it's the only other career path I ever seriously considered. (I ultimately pursued business because at the time I was making the decision, I thought I would enjoy having really expensive things, and CEOs tend to make much more than most teachers and writers. But I figured that if I did well enough in business, universities would ask me to teach and publishers would ask me to write, and I could do it all!) So I like to write. And I figured I had nothing to lose.

I was very candid with the publication about my lack of experience. My email began as follows: "I'm not (yet) a professional writer, but I have over 16 years of experience in the business of storytelling." (I'm a marketer, after all!) I included my resume -- which underscored my lack of professional writing experience -- and links to my blog and some of my more popular blog posts. I didn't honestly expect to hear anything back from the magazine, but for whatever reason, I felt the need to send that email.

This morning, I was surprised to see an email from the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine in my inbox. She began: "Thanks for getting in touch with links to your work. I took a spin through and I like what I see." Then it provided a lot of detail about what a freelance relationship with this magazine would look like. And then, at the very end of her email, she asked if I would be interested in a (paid) trial assignment for the magazine.

Wayne Gretzky once said, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

That doesn't just apply to hockey.


If you're wondering how that story turned out, I wrote that piece, it was published, and I was paid. This means I'm technically a professional writer, even though I give most of my work away for free. (You're welcome!)

Unfortunately, the company decided to stop publishing its online magazine shortly after my piece was published so that was my only paid assignment. (I'd like to think it's because they read my piece and thought, "We can't get any better than this! Shut it down!")

But pursuing an interesting assignment that, on paper, I wasn't qualified to do, getting the job... and then successfully doing it?

That was worth far more than the money I earned for the article.

Think about that the next time you see an attractive opportunity you'd like to pursue and start thinking, "I don't think I can do that..."


P.S. If you're curious about what I wrote for my trial writing assignment, it was an article based on a prompt the company provided: "5 Tips To Make Sure You Keep Your New Year Resolution". You can read a very lightly edited PDF of my submission here. (I removed the references to "2017", fixed a typo, and updated the hyperlinks which were no longer active.)


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