If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do Something Else

Advice To A Young Writer

Meghan Daum
5 min readJan 20, 2021

“If you’re really serious about writing, do something else for a living.”

This is the advice I dispensed recently to a young, aspiring writer who had emailed me seeking guidance. Specifically, this writer wanted to know whether she should stay in her entry level magazine job in order to keep a foothold in the publishing business, or do something else entirely. I get a lot of emails like this, most of which I don’t have time to respond to in any depth, let alone offer an in-person conversation. But something about the tone and timing of this particular correspondence struck a chord, and I suggested we have a Zoom meeting.

In our meeting, the woman explained that the magazine that currently employed her was one she grew up reading and even worshipping; in other words, she had her dream job. But a few years in, she was finding it difficult to imagine moving up through the ranks. Many of her peers were leaving the magazine to work in things like e-commerce and social media. She’d always wanted to write, but she was also interested in other kinds of careers, for instance public policy work. What should she do?

My advice boiled down to one word: leave.

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Meghan Daum

Weekly blogger for Medium. Host of @TheUnspeakPod. Author of six books, including The Problem With Everything. www.theunspeakablepodcast.com www.meghandaum.com