The Journey to Become a Writer

Is writing really enough?

by Michelle Klieger

X Marks the Spot

The intersection of the following ideas provided me an obvious path forward:

1. I’ve always enjoyed writing.

2. I’ve loved talking about the economy and international trade.

3. I have a knack for explaining complicated ideas to normal people.

I started writing and publishing articles about the current trade war, tariffs, and the economic impact of these actions. I’m passionate about these topics and I find it easy to concisely share this information in a digestible manner.

My Journey

I didn’t find resharing the news on Twitter to be fulfilling. I wanted to explain the news was trying to convey. At first, I wanted to write, but I worried I didn’t have enough to say. After an important international meeting, my husband asked me a question and I rambled for 45 minutes. Clearly, I had a lot to say.

I actually found that writing was the easiest part. The next day, I sat down and wrote 2,400 words. I aimed for high readability and easily relatable examples. The hardest part was hitting the submit button when it was time to publish. I knew publishing this piece was going to be a moment of truth for me. Could I share my thoughts, my ideas, and my interpretation of the facts with strangers on the internet, or was I too scared of what criticism I would face? If I couldn’t publish, I needed a new career path. If I could, I lived to fight another day.

I published. I even posted on Facebook and shared it with my friends and family. Then I waited. I watched the stats on Medium… somewhat obsessively. Then, I nervously waited for comments. I got two. One was a rant on Reddit that I ignored. The other was a thoughtful comment from a friend of a friend I didn’t know. Neither one of these experiences broke my confidence. So, I’ve continued writing.

Being a Writer

Am I a writer? Like most new writers, I find myself questioning my writer status. I sit down every day and write a new draft or edit old ones. My goal is to publish two to three articles a week. I have a Trello board where I keep track of all of my ongoing articles. Rationally, I remind myself that continuously writing and publishing my work makes me a writer.

If only believing that was so easy; I write, therefore I am a writer. The nagging voice in my head keeps questioning this self-assessment. First, I ask, am I really a writer if no one reads my work? Then, I worry that I will never find enough people that care about economics and international trade to develop a following. These topics affect all of us, but honestly, most people don’t care about their household budget, so how can I convince them to care about the national budget? Then I spiral downward. I start anxiously refresh my Medium stats. Then, already flustered, I decided I should seek a large audience by developing pieces for major publications, but in my current state, I have nothing to say and terror overtakes me.

Finally, I stop and take a step back. I take my dog for a walk. I leave my computer at home and give myself time to unwind and stop panicking. Over dinner, our family discussion inevitably includes a question about a three percent stock market swing today or the next tariff deadline. My mind starts racing. My mouth can barely keep up. My passion and confidence is immediately restored. I jot down the highlights of our conversation, filled with new ideas for tomorrow’s writing session.

The next day, I start a new article. I follow some rules I’ve set for myself, with the goal to make my writing more readable and more approachable.

Articles should be 1,000 words or less. Even Shakespeare couldn’t keep people’s attention focused on economics for longer than that.

Include personal stories. Travel and personal experience help me explain complicated theories and are easier to follow.

Talk about everyday items. Talk about products and services readers can relate to, not complex hypothetical examples you’d find in a textbook.

Keep an informal tone. This is the hardest for me. I’ve honed my professional and academic writing skills. Now I write for the masses and using an informal tone is hard.

Finding Treasure

I’m proud of the new pieces. In a calm state, I’m able to logically see that my writing should be about starting conversations with people passionate about these topics, who I respect are interested in what I have to say. It’s quality over quantity; having the right readers is more important than having thousands of followers.

My goal is to publish a better story today than the ones I wrote last week. I want to improve my craft through more writing. Writing has many advantages. It helps me organize my thoughts, find new business, and participate in a community that is interested in the same things I am. I’m not sure when I will believe I am a writer. I hope it comes from within and not based on when outside metrics decide.


This was originally published at

Michelle Klieger

Medium member since Dec 2018

I’m an economist by training & a nerd at heart. I founded Stratagerm Consulting. Learn more:

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