It seemed a simple enough application process.
The web-based company requested two writing samples, each under 500 words on any topic relevant to the content on their lifestyle website. This afforded me a wide range of subjects to choose from. If the publication was happy with my writing style and ideas, I would become a regular contributor for their online newsletter and website.
A couple of late nights at my computer and the two articles were complete. Late one evening, satisfied with my submission, I emailed them off.
The following morning the first item to appear in my inbox was the newsletter from the website I had applied for the night before.
At the top of the page I noticed a headline strikingly similar to mine.
In my sleep deprived state, I thought they had published my article. A moment later I realized that was impossible due to the late hour of submission and the early hour of arriving at my desk the next day.
Someone had submitted an article on the same subject.
While I felt some relief knowing that I was at least on the right track with my choice of topic, as I continued to read further into the article, my relief was quickly replaced by a slight sense of panic.
Whilst the subject matter was the same, the facts provided in the two articles were vastly different. One of us had supplied the wrong information.
My first impulse was that I had made the mistake.
Immediately I began to run through my sources.
I’d made a phone call to the company to confirm some of the information. I’d also relied heavily on the program information on their website, which was my main concern. Static web pages can be full of outdated information. Researching my article however, I had checked that the website had recently been updated.
Out of frustration and curiosity, I rang the company again to clarify the information on both the published article and my own.
I hadn’t made the mistake.
The published information was incorrect.
Whilst I didn’t land the job as a regular contributor with the publication, there were several valuable takeaways from the experience. From a writing point of view –
- Check your facts.
- Make sure your sources are reliable.
- Speak to a source in person.
- Don’t rely too heavily on information from the web without confirming it is up to date and accurate.
- Go back and double-check your facts.
But most importantly – you need to trust yourself.
It was amazing how quickly I assumed that I had made the mistake. It never occurred to me at the time that someone else might have got it wrong.
I automatically doubted myself (without a scrap of evidence to back it up). I let the insecurities I was feeling at the time take over, regardless of the fact that I knew I had put in the work.
It’s important that we trust ourselves and have trust in our work.
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