Sell Your Frustration By Alice Wisler

“Someone broke into my car.” “She’s late again.” “Why would anyone say that to a friend?”

Frustration surrounds us whether we are in preschool, tenth grade, or an adult out in the world. But did you know that your emotions can be channeled to write articles that sell? Unpleasant real life situations can be created into pieces that actually benefit others.

Until I learned to use dissatisfaction as an invaluable tool, I only saw the word as a negative. Now, over the years, I’ve learned that writing from aggravation has proven to garner positive results.

“How’s that?” you ask.

With some tenacity, creativity, and tweaking, I’ve been able to sell my words.

When my house was robbed three years ago, I wrote an article for a local magazine on smart tips to secure your home and vehicles, after interviewing a local police officer. After my boxer was bit by a copperhead and taken to the animal hospital, my article was on how to care for an ill pet, and which animals and reptiles are poisonous to dogs (as well as tidbits on staying calm on a Saturday night when every animal in the city seems to need emergency care).

I wrote from sorrow after my son died because people had no clue how to help a bereaved mom. The 800-word piece was printed in Carolina Parent, and then picked up by an Australian magazine for a $50 reprint fee. Ten years later, “You Can Help a Grieving Heart” continues to circulate.

When situations arise that cause you turmoil, think of how you, too, can earn money by writing about them. Use your anguish to work for you.

First, list the problems, and then develop the solutions. A great example of this comes from a woman in our community. She has Cushing Syndrome and, due to the complications of this disease, knows too well what it is like to be on the fringes of life. So, imagine how frustrated she became when a group of girls were shopping for prom dresses and the store owner told a large girl in a wheelchair that there was no dress suited for her. This woman not only helped the young girl find something, but went on to come up with a prom for high school kids with handicaps. In her article, she asked for volunteers to help with hair and make-up so that the girls could have a night of feeling glamorous. What a worthy cause – one stemmed from frustration.

As you write about your experiences so that you can help others, keep this key thought in mind: Don’t bleed over the page, trying to get sympathy. That only turns people off. Look for ways to teach and educate through your tough situations.

Have a friend who is constantly late? Are you irritated by her lack of respect for your time as you sit at the restaurant or mall, waiting? How do you manage to be on time? Brainstorm for an article that shows readers tips on how to get to places without being late – leaving the house five minutes earlier, allowing for traffic, even setting clocks ahead ten minutes.

Once you have an idea, study the markets so that you can tailor each pitch and then send your piece to the appropriate magazine or newsletter. Here are a few places to consider selling your work:

  • Senior magazines
  • Local free magazines and papers in your community
  • Pet magazines
  • Health magazines
  • Women’s magazines
  • Family or parenting magazines
  • Devotionals (slanting your frustration to show how you learned a Biblical truth from the situation, or how you overcame something, will be considered by editors of Christian devotionals)
  • Op-ed page (some newspapers and magazines pay for these but most don’t)

Lastly, include a healthy bio with each piece, allowing it to draw attention to your books, website, or services. Even if an editor trims it, don’t panic. Selling your frustration can provide you some extra cash – something affirmative coming out of the distress you’ve had to deal with.

Alice J. Wisler has written from disappointment for years and, most likely, will continue to do so. She’s the author of four novels – Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation. She’s also an instructor of Writing the Heartache Workshops. See: