Ask Emma: Should I pursue my passion?

‘Struggling Writer’ considers a career in creative writing; Emma advises to start a blog, set deadlines

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LAUREN PETTIT

Writing with a deadline can help you learn to be comfortable with imperfect writing, Emma says.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen reporter

Dear Emma,

I love creative writing and I consider it my passion but am always really nervous to show people my work because I’m a perfectionist. I’m afraid my writing will seem silly or incomplete, no matter how much time I have spent on it. 

If I was a bit better, I might actually try to make a career out of it. As it is now, I feel like I need to do something practical because creative writing probably won’t work out. I just wish I could make up my mind about what I want to do. 

Any advice?

“Struggling Writer”


Dear Writer,

This does sound like a predicament. I’m glad you recognize your passion and aren’t trying to ignore it, but it can be difficult when you don’t feel good enough. 

My best piece of advice is to push yourself to confront your perfectionist tendencies — write something and get it published, even if it isn’t “perfect.” 

Start a creative writing blog. You don’t have to share it with anyone yet. Write something, put it on your blog and, most importantly, be okay with that. You don’t need to edit it. Leave it alone and work on something else. (That may require some self-discipline.)

After building your portfolio for a while, you can share it with some people you trust — that is, if you want. Ask for feedback, but realize you don’t have to make changes if you don’t want to. 

You can also force yourself to write on a deadline, which helped me break away from my own perfectionism. I’m not saying the only way to do that is working at a newspaper, but in my experience, it helps to know your story has to be ready by a certain time. 

Make a hard deadline, and you will learn to be okay with a story being “below” your standards. It gets published and you move on to the next one. End of story. (Writing joke.)

When it comes to a backup plan — yes, you should have one. But that would be the case with a “practical” job, too. 

Research what experience creative writers need, how much money they make, the biggest challenges and the best parts. Learn it all. Do the same for your backup plan, just so you know what you’re up against. 

I don’t think you should give up on your passion because it isn’t “practical.” However, I do think you need a realistic mindset and more experience before you dive headfirst. 

Keep working at it and don’t give up!

Take care,

Emma