The One Thing That Really Bothers Me about Being a Writer

I’ll give you a hint: it’s not having my name out there. It’s not even having my photo out there. It’s not even about writing about bras and body hair and tampons and menstrual blood and my misdiagnosis and whatever other personal things I write about.

Mean comments. That’s the one thing that really bothers me about being a writer.

Or, should I say insensitive comments?

Badly written comments.

I mean, comments that clearly were not thought about before they were written.

Whatever you want to call them, I just really hate it when people write negative comments. Yes, they are voicing an opinion. No, I do not think it was done in the best way.

This post is compiled from a few comments I’ve gotten over my career of being a writer that either:

a) really hurt my feelings

b) made me really mad

c) made think how stupid people can be

We have all done immature and thoughtless things. If you’re posting a comment on an article that someone took the time to write, why not make it a good one?

Disagreeing with the author’s opinion is perfectly fine. But can we do it in a way that’s at least, you know, nice?

Here are some people who responded a little less kindly to my articles as well as my responses.

The Person Who Did Not Understand the Article

Oh, this lady. This was written in response to my article about my shaved head on Elephant Journal. This woman clearly did not understand that I have chosen to cut my hair because I like it, not because I was rebelling against society’s standards for me.

My response (and some fun responses from others):

I handled that well, right? She did hurt my feelings, though. All those CAPS. Like I don’t understand NON-CAPITALIZED WORDS.

The Person Who Wants to Feel Superior to You

I don’t know what they’re teaching Gracie at Hudson Valley Community College, but I suppose she hasn’t yet learned that everyone’s experience is unique to them.

Gracie wrote this comment in response to my landlord article, which is published on this site as well as on Thought Catalog.

Was my experience the worst one on the planet? Of course not. So I responded as such:

My initial reaction to this post was anger that someone was discounting my experience. Once I got over that and actually thought about it, I was able to respond much more rationally.

Apparently, the readers of Thought Catalog really like feeling superior to the author. Another beloved reader wrote this in response to an article I have published there about bras:

I’m not sure if the word dumbassssss is the correct word to describe me or to discredit the research I cited in that article, but I couldn’t think of a polite response and so I simply thanked Lesley for her comment and tried really hard not to wish that she never gets a job after her internship ends.

The Angry Women Who Just Really Like Their Bras

It’s no secret that I’ve been pretty vocal about the fact that bras aren’t good for our breasts. My article on Wellness has gotten a lot of attention and a lot of comments. Some of them are from angry women who really disagree with me.

I don’t know what she means by “actually have breasts”, but assuming she’s referring to the size of breasts, this comment is just plain rude.

Her opinion could have been better expressed rather than simply saying all women who don’t wear bras are ugly. Oops, sorry, I meant U G L Y.

And then there’s this woman, who likes to equate breasts with pancakes.

Sigh. I really wish she had cited research… but she didn’t, so I have to assume she had no basis for saying my article (which was backed by numerous studies) was full of lies. So I couldn’t think of anything else to say, except for:

The following person clearly feels that there’s research that proves otherwise, but she neglects to cite it.

Studies, please? And I would really argue that you have some degree of control over whether or not you develop cancer. Otherwise, why would the National Cancer Institue list diet, alcohol, obesity, and tobacco among its risk factors for cancer?

So yeah. Angry women. Love their bras.

The Person Who Just Wants to Be Mean

And then there’s this mess of comments on that bra article on Wellness of a woman asking for resources and this dude who shoots her down and offends all women with large breasts. Such an ignorant comment!

I tried to be helpful and just ignored that other bastard. I hope that made you feel better dude because you clearly have no idea what it’s like to have breasts.

And finally, we have this lady from Elephant Journal commenting on my menstrual cup article there.

Wow? Wow what?

It seems that she’s saying that cotton tampons are better than silicone. Shouldn’t she have just said that?

Cotton is one of the top producers of pesticides in the world so firstly I would argue for organic tampons here, and secondly, silicone is at least reusable which helps our landfills out. Thirdly, most tampons are made from synthetic fibers and treated with carcinogenic chemicals.

But I didn’t respond to this one because I couldn’t think of anything to say to “wow”. Just ran out of energy after responding to the other comments.

How to Comment Nicely

There are other ways to comment even if you disagree with what the author is saying in the article.

For example, the woman above could have said, “I really think that cotton tampons are better than silicone for these specific reasons.” Sounds much more put together, right?

Back up your claims with facts and research to help others see your opinion. This helps you appear more credible and gives justification to your comment. Be mindful of what you say to others. These are actual people writing these articles, not machines. We have feelings!

Above all, be kind. Recognize that someone has a different opinion than you. Be aware of your feelings. Reading these comments was really hard for a sensitive Cancer like me because I took them personally. Apparently, they took my articles personally as well.

Take yourself out of it. Respond kindly. Be nice to one another. This should not be so hard.

I also have to say I really hate that Facebook comments plugin.

I love being a writer. I love having people read my work. And yes, I love having people comment on my articles because it generates discussion, shares a wide variety of views, and gets me better search rankings in Google. What I really dislike is people being insensitive in their comments.

Share kindness, not hate!

5 Awesome Benefits of Guest Blogging

Guest posting may have gone through the wringer with Google, but it still exists and is a pretty happening party if you play your cards right.

Writers know that guest posting has its benefits as well as its drawbacks—but I’m here to talk about some really cool benefits of guest blogging that I’ve discovered throughout my writing journey.

Guest posts are almost always not paid posts, and your point of contact may or may not send you ideas. More often than not, your ideas will come from YOU, so the benefits of guest blogging can require a little elbow grease while you’re still not getting paid.

So why would any self-respecting writer want to guest post?

Enter my five awesome benefits of guest blogging.

1. Get Your Name Out There

Getting your name out there with guest posting is pretty cool.

Although not many people care about who you are, what you do, or even what you’re writing about, just being able to have your name published on a piece is cool.

Why?

Because as writers, we’re not always credited for our work. In fact, many of us work behind the scenes for people who won’t ever post our name or even tell their clients we exist.

So getting a name out there along with a picture of your face and a link back to your site is one of the benefits of guest blogging. It’s like saying ‘HEY! I wrote this! Isn’t it awesome??”

2. Have Published Samples to Send to Clients

One of the benefits of guest blogging is having real, live samples to send to clients. This is key for a writer starting out because people that you contact are going to want to see the work you’ve done.

Sure, you can send them your ghost-writing samples (as long as it’s not against your contracts), but nothing speaks to your credibility like having your name on your original work. They can see your name, your picture, your site link, and they get a view into your work and what it’s all about.

It proves that you’re an active, real person, who loves posting great content about things you’re passionate about for free. Although you won’t be working for your clients for free, having that polished, published piece with your name on it to send them is way better than a ghost writing sample. You’re CREDIBLE, dammit!

3. Take Chances

If I never started guest posting, I would have never realized how cool I truly am.

That sounded lame, so I’ll say just kidding—what I mean to say is that you can take chances with guest posting in ways that you never really could with paying clients.

One of the benefits of guest blogging is that you get to experiment with your voice, different styles, and even photographs. Send them whatever you want, and who cares if they don’t like it? It’s not like you’re getting paid or anything!

I never realized how ballsy I could be with my writing until I started writing for a couple people for free and they loved it—realizing “hey, I can actually say this and people dig it” is a powerful feeling.

4. Write About What You Love

Let’s face it, as writers—especially aspiring writers—we don’t always get to write about things we love. Sometimes we’re writing about some pretty boring crap.

I do encourage all writers to never compromise on their ethics, though. Only write about things you’d personally back/agree with.

So when you’re experiencing the benefits of guest blogging, of course, you’re not going to be writing for free for something you hate or disagree with. You’re going to find an awesome site that advocates for everything you love and then become a contributor there.

You’ll love writing about what you love, even if it’s for free—getting your message out there along with your name is a good feeling, and you need some good feelings in your career 🙂

5. Gain Experience

If you’re a newbie writer, you definitely need some experience. So just get out there and do it!

This is one of the best benefits of guest blogging. Writing for free probably isn’t your first priority, and it doesn’t have to be. But sneak some guest posts in there every now and then to build your portfolio and write about things you shine in.

Nothing makes an excellent sample piece than content you’re passionate about to share with your future clients. You’ll also gain experience working with a point of contact with the site and generating ideas—two very valuable skills in this business.

Get out there and make mistakes with guest posting. Like I said, it’s not like they’re paying you.

Take advantage of some of the opportunities guest posting has to offer! It can be difficult to find sites at first—but keep looking, never stop asking, and don’t give up!

5 Reasons I Love Eckhart Tolle

The one thing that has changed my life when it comes to how to be present minded is the simple—and yet, life-altering—fact that I am not my mind.

I am not Jenn.

I’m not a health blogger.

I’m not even a bunny loving, tea-drinking, glitter girl.

I am something infinitely more than my mind, my thoughts, or emotions. I am a Being.

I just am.

I recently read Eckhart Tolle’s Book A New Earth after going through a rough patch in an area of my life. It was so amazing, and it helped me heal more in two weeks than all these years without my illness.

Here are five reasons I’m really loving Eckhart Tolle and how his musings have transformed my life.

1. Tolle Advocates for Not Identifying with Your Mind

Tolle acknowledges the power of being present and not identifying with our pasts, our minds, or our emotions.

Doing so only gives strength to the ego in us, which creates a multitude of problems and suffering. When you identify with something, you must defend it, nurture it, become victim to it.

The bridge in the picture represents the pathway between you and your mind.

Bridge

While many people are unable to separate themselves from their mind and feel that they have no choice but to identify with their emotions, their struggles, that fabulous baby pink shade of nail polish, or a career, they don’t see a bridge.

They see only one thing without a way out, which is their mind. People tend to think a lot and totally identify with their thoughts.

The bridge is between you and your mind.

You can be on one side and travel to the other side occasionally, that is to think or be creative or whatever you choose.

But we don’t need to be thinking all the time. In fact, it’s pretty hurtful to us and prevents you from realizing how to be present minded. When you’re here, right now, in this moment, you realize nothing truly matters and just enjoy being.

2. He Cultivates Presence

When considering how to be present minded, we can cultivate presence to experience more joy, less sorrow, and be more effective at what we do.

Cultivating presence is the act of just being in the moment. Cultivate awareness of your body, your environment, your emotions. Allow things to come and go, but do not judge them or label them.

Just be right here where you are.

When you can feel your own presence without the constant chattering of the mind, you become more whole in this moment and less immersed in all your perceived mind problems.

3. He Establishes a Way out of PAin

It’s not easy to let go of all the things you feel establish you and help you to be grounded.

But when you’re thinking how to be present minded, consider that what grounds you is not what actually grounds you, rather just something that makes you feel more secure in your ego.

The way out of pain and suffering is to stop identifying with your mind. Yes, your mind is there, but do not let it consume you. Do not let your emotions be who you are. Nothing can define what you are. You are right here.

4. Tolle Points out the Power of No Resistance

Many of our feelings are responses from the ego.

The ego is always seeking, always wanting, always trying to be superior. Nothing is ever good enough for the ego, not even yourself.

The ego thrives on reaction. It wants you to react and defend your position, which in effect strengthens it. What the ego cannot and will not realize is that there is great power in no resistance.

It’s a challenge to realize that you have a choice and not react. Try it. Next time someone gets upset with you, do not react. Remain present.

How to be present minded begins here.

5. He Acknowledges that Being Is the Ultimate Experience

Just be.

Don’t try to find yourself, seek happiness, or ground yourself in things. It’s amazingly liberating to realize that your past does not define you, that your life situation does not define you, that your objects do not define you.

We’re people who have the ability to stay present, not take criticism personally, and are always looking to learn and grow.

How could you ever be defined?

What Have I Accomplished in My Year After Graduating College?

The year after graduating college can be a daunting one. But I’m here to tell you why mine has been the most liberating ever!

accomplishment

Today has been a year since I graduated from Penn State. It seems nuts to me that it’s been a year, but at the same time, so much has happened.

So what have I accomplished in my year after graduating college?

Focused More on My Personal Growth Than My Professional

When I graduated, I felt like I had a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

I started my B.A when I was 18, and graduated when I was 23. I had spent years trying to get my degree, and now it was over.

What should I do?

I used the year after graduating college to focus much more on my personal self than on my professional one. After all, I’d finished my degree—now it was time to focus on me and my inner goddess.

Got a Full-Time Job—But Quit

So I had a full-time job before I even got my diploma in the mail.

After applying to job after job after job both right before and after I left Penn State, and going on only two interviews, I landed a job at a security firm as a tech writer close to DC. I was terrified that I wasn’t going to get a job but I did, and I was ecstatic to start.

I thought I wanted to do tech writing—turns out, it’s not really my cup of tea. I’m not embarrassed to tell you that I quit that job after only a few days because it went so badly.

I wasn’t happy, and happiness is a priority in my life, especially the year after graduating college.

Got a Part-Time Job

After I quit my first job, I felt lost and confused as to what I wanted.

I was still applying the year after graduating college but had less certainty and confidence as to what I wanted. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but if I couldn’t do tech writing, how could I find a legit writing job?

I applied to the women’s homeless shelter in DC and got the job. It was part-time, but exactly what I needed to figure out what I wanted to do while still making an income the year after graduating college.

Figured Out What I Truly Want To Do

I love my work in DC. It’s been so empowering and it has been a fabulous opportunity to grow and figure out what I want.

I learned that I want to help people and not just homeless people. I wanted to write, too. I just needed to confidence to actually figure out how to start my writing professionally.

Started My Own Business

So walaah! I started my own freelance writing business almost a year after graduating college. It’s going great and I love it, and it feels awesome to get paid doing what I love to do—writing!

Learned Where I Want to Live

Ian was interning in Asheville, North Carolina during the year after graduating college. I drove down there a couple times that summer and spent several weeks with him while I was unemployed (those weeks were some of the most healing of my life, it felt like).

I really loved Asheville and North Carolina. I hope to move there!

Stopped Being so Afraid of Life

When I graduated, I was terrified of so many things. I think more than all these things though, I was afraid of my ability to actually do something worthwhile that people would pay me for.

What would my life mean if I couldn’t do what I loved?

I was so scared of actually living my life and going for my dreams. After this past year after graduating college, I’m still a little scared, but not half as much as I was. And I gained more confidence, too.

Realized How My Misdiagnosis Has Impacted My Life

That crazy illness that I was diagnosed with almost 8 years ago is not the illness I have.

I do not have any illness; my body merely has an autoimmune response to a protein named gluten. I realized that my illness has both made me terrified and less confident.

I’m not sick, and I don’t have to be sick. I choose what’s best for my body. I live the way I want to live. Going through my illness has made me less likely to spend time on things that I don’t want to spend time on. I cherish my time now and what I do with it.

Our lives are so short, so do what makes you happy!

So my year after graduating college didn’t quite go like I thought—but it was a magical one and I’ve come so far personally and professionally!