Currently, I’m at a conference, so forgive any delay in responding to your comments. I should be back here Thursday.
In the meantime, I wanted to bring up a topic we’ve talked about in the past, but deserves a bit of resurrection. As I watched the discussion and debate swell and morph over an article I wrote asking risk managers if risk management was obsolete, I thought about our own profession.
What I noticed with this article was there were varied reactions. The ones that stood out were those denying there’s a problem and saying the message was skewed. While that may be true, I wonder if that reaction is exactly why some people in that profession do believe the position is floundering?
The discussion came in tangent with a plea from someone to help understand how to get started in writing. The question was a good one: how do I get more proactive in my marketing? I love a good question, so I answered. It was a detailed response that gave bulleted advice. When someone asks me for help, I feel it’s my role as a fellow writer to help.
And yet I read the writer’s response and decided I was done. Why? Because it was my first and only case of someone not hearing what I said but rather diving off that same “I can’t do this without help” cliff. Lamenting. Desperation. I get it. But I’ve never seen a case of whining that resulted in work.
It’s the excuse train. It’s the “I want to be a writer I don’t know where to start help me help me NOW” plea that, when help arrives, morphs into the “But you just don’t understand I can’t do it and I need help and you aren’t helping enough” kind of mentality. No appreciation for the time I’d put into the response. No inkling that anything I said was heard or absorbed. No indication that this person was going anywhere but back on the Excuse Train for one more trip around the loop.
It’s self-sabotage. And it’s killing any chance that you’ll survive in freelance writing. So who rides the excuse train? Those writers who:
Expect full attention and help. Without thanks. While I get that frustration and desperation can make a person forget the basic pleasantries, if you keep demanding help without a word of thanks or any sign of appreciation, you’re not going to win any friends in the writing world. And you will need friends, believe me.
Shoot down advice. This happens to me every now and then — someone will ask for advice, then will pick apart each piece of advice like they’re picking ticks from a dog. Can’t be done. Did it. Didn’t work. Won’t work. Can’t work. Too hard. Gawd, it’s boring to listen to, and it’s frustrating.
Never go beyond asking. That first step into freelancing is like stepping off a cliff blindfolded. You don’t know if it’s a cliff or a curb, and you’re afraid of the fall. I get it. But at some point you have to make a decision to move forward. I remember one writer who’d asked for (and received) advice on starting a writing business. Four years later, she was still asking the same question, only this time writers were done answering. Move on it or don’t — just don’t hang in limbo. It’s unhealthy.
Think they want to be writers, but really don’t. There’s a reason why all these excuses exist. Usually it’s because the writer just doesn’t want to be a freelance writer. Period. Sure, they think it’s a sexy, cool idea. But they’re not willing to go beyond dreaming about it. That’s fine. Not everyone is cut out to be a freelancer. Just recognize that and stop asking for help you don’t really want. A lot of working writers are quite willing to help you. It’s just too frustrating to spend time and effort on someone who has no intention of doing anything with the advice they’ve asked for.
So what excuses are you hearing lately?