Listen Up: Collecting (Good) Advice from Others

Besides the overwhelmingly creative side hustles I get to encounter daily in your submissions, what I most look forward to reading is your advice to others. It’s raw, honest, and (I assume) self-directed most of the time.

I have never been very good at following my own advice but have always loved collecting it from others. During my second year in Charleston, I lived with two friends in a walk-up apartment on historic King Street: wooden floors, giant windows, exposed brick. Charleston in every way.

One night I was feeling especially pensive and grabbed some chalk to write all of my favorite quotes on the brick wall right there in my bedroom, so I could be surrounded by good advice while I slept. This is an example of a word addiction gone too far—and a crazy roommate. Sorry, Mary Margaret and Hannah.

There is a great amount of comfort to be found in the words of advice from others. They offer so much: I’ve been there, I was on that battlefield, I faced that demon, and I came out on the other side. But mostly they just say, I did, and you can too.

In an age where artists and writers and designers and even doctors are expected to showcase and market themselves and their work online constantly, to appear approachable and lovable and available 24/7, the competition among peers in every industry is fierce. There just isn’t a whole lot of time left for mentoring, guiding, assisting, teaching, or learning from others who share your craft. And that is such a tremendous loss.

Who better to guide the paintbrush of an eager beginner than a seasoned artist with an endless supply of the most precious resource available: experience.

This is why the Advice section of the Submission Form is so critical. The words you give freely to each other here are so valuable and significant because you are telling another in your field, I faced this challenge and so will you, but here is how you will meet it.

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by a much-admired author of mine, Neil Gaiman:

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

The same rings true for advice (when dispensed by the appropriate people).

Good advice isn’t true because it shows us obstacles exist; it’s true because it shows us obstacles can be overcome.

I always laugh when I receive a submission followed by the message, “I’m so sorry, I’m not very good with words!” It’s funny because it’s just not true. Everyone is a good writer. We all have our own unique way of interpreting, communicating, and describing—most people just aren’t interested in words enough to recognize the artistic value of their own voice.

I say that with my friend Chelsea in mind, another self-professed “bad writer.” Ever since I received her submission (click her name above to view it), I have returned again and again to the advice she offered:

“Always make time for your passion. Life is too short to just punch a clock with no purpose.”

How about those words from a “bad writer”?

Keep yo side hustle,

V

PS. If you signed up on the site via email to subscribe to Side Hustle, keep an eye out in your inbox for something new coming on Sunday!

Happy Friday, y’all!

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