Friday, February 19, 2016

Winning the Power Struggle

Do you feel powerless as a writer? Do you feel as if the fate of your writing is in everyone else’s hands but your own? If so, you’re not alone. At some point in every writer’s career, those feelings can be overpowering.

So how can you take that power back and put the fate of your writing in your hands instead of someone else’s?

Let’s start with the guilt you feel when you aren’t writing. Every writer feels that at one time or another. You have the ideas. You have the drive. You have the skills. So why won’t other people leave you to it?

Perhaps your friends and family don’t see you as a writer. You’ve got to promote yourself to them. When you have something published, give or send them a copy, not for feedback but just to show them what you’ve accomplished. In fact, make a point of telling them you just want them to read it to enjoy. They’ll perceive you as creating a product for their enjoyment. Doing so also says you’ve made it.

Another power struggle occurs when you think you can only write in a certain place and at a certain time. If you’re good at writing and like to write, you can write anywhere and at any time. You can write on a scrap envelope or even on a napkin in a restaurant. If you have the ideas, you can write. Get out of this rut and write at some other place and time different from when you normally do. Take your laptop to McDonald’s, buy a cup of coffee, and sit down and write something—anything.

Comments from editors—especially negative ones aimed at you—can sideline your writing, sometimes for weeks or even months. Don’t put editors on a pedestal. Remember, a lot of them wanted to be writers but couldn’t be without a regular paycheck. A lot of them are just frustrated writers. If an editor treats you that badly, it’s time to move on. They can be just as bad as bosses in a day job.

And don’t let comments from other people sidetrack you. While editors should have the credibility to say whether your writing is good or bad, other people don’t—not even English teachers. While English teachers may know their grammar and usage, most don’t understand the kind of writing you’re trying to do. Academic writing is totally different and what you’re writing isn’t literature.

Remember, only someone who’s in the writing business can tell you if you’re good or not. If an editor does say you can’t write, ask them why. Ask them to go into details. It’s the only way you’re going to learn to improve your skills. But if another person without credibility says that to you, just ignore them, or at least say you would never begin to criticize the way they do their type of work.

Don’t get wrapped up in market trends. Too many writers think they have to write about the latest trendy subject. In fact, there are probably too many other writers writing about that very subject. Pick another one that few writers are writing about.

Do you believe the only way you’re going to get published is if you have an agent? Many writers do. Agents are people who help sell books and films to the right people. But you really don’t need one if you’re willing to pitch and promote your own work. Famous writers mostly have agents because they’re way to busy to pitch and promote their own work.

Don’t rely totally on anyone else’s opinion about what you write. Only you can make the final decision about what to include. But do listen to what others who are credible have to say and take what they say into consideration.

Finally, don’t put the fate of your writing in anyone’s hands but your own. Only you have the power to make things happen. And when you do make it in writing, shout it out to the world!

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