Six years ago I published my first Magic the Gathering article on this site. At the time I was looking to get into editorial writing and it was a toss-up between contributing to a blog that covers the New Jersey Devils or contributing to this new MTG blog that some local friends had started up. Luckily for all of you I didn’t quite cut it as a hockey blogger at the time and my friends had no standards.

This article you’re reading is the 484th I’ve written on this site. That’s an average of 80/year, though some years I’ve been more prolific than others (more on that in a minute). So, I’d like to think that over the course of writing almost 500 articles for the Magic community that I’ve learned at least a thing or two, or six, and I’ve decided to share my wisdom with the rest of you.

Why write about this instead of the amazing Pro Tour we all watched this weekend, or the continuing success story that is MTG Arena, or any other topic? Thanks for asking! As I approached this milestone I think that I’ve had impostor syndrome on my mind more than at any other time in my career.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of impostor syndrome then check out Anthony Lowry and Ryan Sainio talking about the topic earlier this year. So the six lessons I’m sharing today are specifically things I’ve learned that help me combat impostor syndrome and continue producing content without drowning in a sea of self-inflicted depression over my inadequacies as a Magic player, a writer, and a company owner.

Lesson One—Write About Your Passion

This is the single most important piece of advice I can give anyone about writing in general. If you’re not excited about the topic you’re writing about, your audience will know. When you’re getting started, your readers/listeners/viewers most likely find your content because of the topic, not your reputation. If they’re passionate about the topic, they’ll know immediately that you’re not really that into it.

If you love Commander don’t waste your time on Standard metagame analysis because you think its what people want to read about or because you think there are too many people writing about “topic X.” This is a huge community and Magic is an incredibly deep game. I promise you, there is room for your voice but make sure you’re using it for something you care about, not something you think your audience wants.

Lesson Two—Find an Editor You Trust

I can’t stress enough how important it is to find someone to look at your content before you publish it. A second set of eyes is invaluable when you’re creating things for other people because you never know how someone else is going to interpret your words. If you’re fortunate you’ll find someone who can provide honest feedback that you’ll use to improve the quality of your content.

If you don’t trust the feedback you’re getting, or you feel that you don’t have a healthy relationship with your editor, find another one. It can be almost literally anyone. A parent, a sibling, a friend, a significant other, and so on. Hipsters of the Coast’s success is largely driven by its two Editors-in-Chief: First Hunter Slaton and for the past four years or so Brendan McNamara. It makes a world of difference.

Lesson Three—Don’t Overload Yourself

I said above that I’ve averaged 80 articles a year in the past six years but one year I went way overboard and wrote almost 150 articles. You see, I had this clever idea of reading a different MTG novel every week and writing what was essentially a 500-to-1000-word book report on it. I did this for a few reasons:

  1. One day when my kid(s) complain about having to write a book report I can tell them I wrote 50 in one year once
  2. I had a decent Vorthos background but I wanted to make it more complete and also read stories I had missed the first time around
  3. I am a huge idiot

No seriously, I took on way too much work that year and ended up spending a lot of time reading novels and writing book reports that I should have been spending on literally anything else (like running the site instead of just writing book reports). It worked out in the end, but I wouldn’t do it again.

The lesson here is to avoid taking on more work than you should but also you need to understand how much work you can handle. Getting organized is a key part of this but that varies from person to person. Te advice here is to figure out how to best organize yourself and go from there.

Lesson Four—Don’t Read the Comments

No really, just, don’t do it. Unless you have exceptionally thick skin it’s very difficult to sit and read a few dozen people tell you that you’re complete garbage. It plays right into the very core of impostor syndrome and you don’t need it. Disable the comments on your content. It’s your content. It’s your website. You decide what goes there. If you write for one of the few content publishers that still allows commenting on content, just don’t read it.

The response I often get from this advice is, “How else can I engage my audience?” There are lots of ways. I recommend social media accounts, e.g. Twitter and Facebook, where you can both share your content and also talk with your audience. You can also try out a newsletter and other forms of content distribution. Also, if you setup a feedback email address you’ll be surprised how many genuine and well-thought out correspondences you’ll receive (emails are way better than random anonymous comments).

Lesson Five—Reach Out to Wizards of the Coast

I can’t stress this one enough and I think some people still don’t believe me. Wizards of the Coast loves content and loves content creators. Yes, there are some lines that people cross that make it so Wizards has to stay away from some specific content (e.g. financial/secondary market stuff, parodies of artwork, proxies, internet trolls, pending litigation, etc.) but for 99.99% of content creators, odds are Wizards cares.

Why wouldn’t they? No one in the world loves Magic more than the people who a) create the game and b) create content about the game. You’re a match made in heaven, believe me. My advice is to follow as many WotCStaff members on Twitter and eventually they’ll find your content.

Lesson Six—Engage the Community

Along the same lines, you should endeavor to reach out to other content creators. No one is too big in this community to make time to help out anyone who has questions or needs help. If you create YouTube videos you might think that creators like Wedge and the Professor can’t make time for you but you’re wrong. They love helping new creators. Obviously they don’t have infinite time but if you engage them on social media they’re usually happy to lend a hand or mobilize their own audiences to help others.

This is true for basically whatever medium you’re working in. Making a podcast? Reach out to your favorite podcast creators. Writing a blog? Reach out to your favorite bloggers. Whether it’s someone as well-known as Gerry Thompson or as completely unknown as myself, I assure you that they’ll be happy to help.

And there you have it. Six lessons I’ve learned in the six years and nearly 500 articles written about Magic the Gathering. Thinking about them doesn’t always cure impostor syndrome but it certainly helps to look back on where I came from and envision where things are going. I hope this helps you do the same.

Thanks for Reading,
Rich

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