Creatives are favorite targets for Disillusion, but you don’t have to give in to her drag-down tactics anymore.

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If I had to describe disillusionment in a word, that word would be an onomatopoeia. And that onomatopoeia would be eeeAAUUUHHGH.

I’m sure that clarified things for someone out there. Maybe not you, but someone.

Essentially, disillusionment is the pervasive sense that things “aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.” It is the particular kind of dread that creatives feel when they are confronted with a long-term phenomenon that isn’t quite failure, but sure feels related to it. A second cousin, perhaps.

If left to her devious devices (Double Ds, if you will), disillusionment can spin you into a profoundly…


It’s not always a bad thing to seek attention — sometimes it’s simply a part of the creative (and human) process.

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If you’re an artist or an alleged human being, you’ve probably heard advice along the lines of “you shouldn’t care what other people think” or “successful people learn to validate themselves without paying attention to outside opinions.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that this is bullsh**.

I’ll get into the details of why it’s bullsh** shortly, but first of all, I’d like to observe that I have never heard of or met a single person in all of human history who has truly not cared what other people think of them.

Have you? Sure, some people seem less inclined…


If one more person whispers warnings about “his culture” to me, I’m going to lose my sh**. Here’s the truth about those unfair judgments and what they represent.

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I’m not a fan of gatekeeping, as a general rule. It’s rarely a positive thing — especially when it’s predicated on racism, stereotypes, or assumptions about people and cultures the gatekeeper doesn’t understand.

The longer I’ve been in a relationship with my partner, the more romantic gatekeeping I’ve been forced to deflect.

I call the phenomenon “gatekeeping” because people seem to have developed a series of obstacle courses and trials for my partner and me to pass through before they can “trust” that our relationship is healthy and genuine.

Is it because he demonstrates red flags? Is it their way…


Why do so many of us treat our writing careers like a lottery? Here’s some real talk from a veteran writer who knows what’s up.

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The word success is a loaded one, despite how common it is. Most of us have developed a habit of associating “success” with a single image, a thing, something that’s either achieved or not achieved.

We tend to forget the rather extensive middle ground contained in those seven innocuous letters.

Writers, in my experience, are especially prone to viewing success as a monolith — usually unconsciously. It’s a perception that tends to seep unnoticed through our more rational defenses, and once implanted it can be quite a disruptive force throughout our careers.

When you think of success as an all-or-nothing…


Clients often forget that professional boundaries exist for the self-employed. Let’s give them a polite — but effective — reminder, shall we?

Yellow tape
Yellow tape
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Lately, people have been throwing around an (admittedly problematic) term for being a pushover in relationships. The word is simp.

While I’m proud to simp all day for my loved ones, I must strongly suggest that you do not simp for freelance clients. This is harder than it sounds.

Boundary-setting is hard. It’s hardest when your boundaries intersect directly with your income, goals, or passions. It’s all too easy to fall into anxious patterns of people-pleasing — no matter how experienced or ambitious you are about your work.

None of this negates the simple fact that your freelance career will…


If the idea of setting your freelance rates results in hives or hyperventilating, this is the guide for you. Take a breath, and join me as I give you a roadmap to effective pricing — from start to finish.

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There you are, cruising along the rainbow road of professionalism, kicking ass and taking [the] names — of clients, that is.

But what’s that noise? Ah, yes, it’s the sound of screeching brakes as you’re brought to a shuddering halt by THAT question. Oh, you know the one.

“So, what are your rates?” Or, another favorite, “what do you normally charge for this kind of thing?”

Despite the absolute mundanity of these unavoidable questions, they always seem to bring us freelancers up short. Pricing remains one of the most challenging parts of the business for me, personally — and no…


Yep, sometimes that job you prayed for — being a professional writer — feels like drowning. Here’s how to stay afloat and make it to calmer waters.

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“I’m so proud of you, Em — you’re really doing it!”

My mom’s support means the world to me. Really, it does. But when she said this the other day, I felt a little blip of inner panic as I became seized with thoughts of, oh, no, what if I can’t keep doing it?!

I’m sure many of you can relate. Life has been rather…overwhelming, lately, and I’ve been reckoning with the fact that the job I would have killed to get a mere year ago is feeling nearly as stifling as any 9–5.

How do you handle that particular…


Sometimes life gives you lemons, and sometimes it gives you death, overdue taxes, anxiety, and cicadas in your pool. I think I’ll keep writing, regardless.

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There’s no truly humorous way to introduce this one, so I’ll just come out with it.

I’ve lost four family members in as many months. That’s the big one — the thing that’s weighed too heavily on my and my family’s shoulders to make wisecracks about it.

In addition to or perhaps related to this, the tax season slipped by me while I was lost in a haze, my anxiety is biting me in the ass 24/7, and I keep getting hit in the face by horny cicadas whenever I walk outside.

Okay, that last part probably isn’t related, but…


“Creating” of any kind requires a lot of our energy — it’s important to learn ways to spend less of it on the mundane.

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The typical day of a typical artist looks much like anybody else’s. They wake up early and have some coffee, then trudge their way to a desk — likely one situated neatly in a cubicle, pre-covid — and work on their “day job” for 8 hours.

They talk to coworkers, send and respond to emails, try to keep up with texts and incoming projects, and they make all sorts of important and not-so-important decisions until, at last, it’s time to clock out.

Most likely they’ve stored away some vague idea that they’ll devote their “free time” to their art, whatever…


You can cause a lot of trouble in 24 hours — and you don’t need anybody’s permission to do it.

Photo by Shashank Sahay on Unsplash

All in all, chaos gets a pretty bad rep.

It’s messy, it’s “not productive,” and it certainly doesn’t follow anyone’s well-thought-out rules or carefully researched strategy templates. Thank goodness for that, am I right?

For all the warnings about the importance of scheduling, planning, and processing your way to victory, I think it’s time to take another look at our old frenemy, Chaos.

In my case, Chaos has been one of my greatest allies on the path toward happiness — not to mention a pretty awesome career. You just have to give her a chance.

Here’s what I mean.

Who Says Success Is Linear? Take A Few Detours Before You “Make It”

We…

Emily Sinclair Montague

Author & Full-Time Writer. Embracing life’s chaos one word at a time. Get in touch at emsinclair@wordsofafeather.net (or don’t, but I love the attention)!

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