4 Things You Should Stop Doing Right Now
But it can be even more important to talk about what not to do — and how to subtract career-damaging attitudes and practices from your life.
Stop doing this: Over-analyzing.
I recently had a mentoring client who wondered why an editor had rewritten her piece. Was the article that bad? Was the tone not right? The editor asked her to interview one source, but should she have included two just in case?
From the book Women Who Think Too Much, I learned that women especially tend to try to think their way out of situations, which in reality just keeps them mired in the muck of their overactive minds.
Instead of getting stuck in analysis paralysis, take action: Pick up the phone and call the editor to find out why she rewrote your piece, asked you to do something in a certain way you don’t understand, or made a comment you’re just not getting. It’s the only way to find out the truth of the situation.
Stop doing this: Sending LOIs to national publications.
Yes, I extol the virtues of the Letter of Introduction (LOI). They’re great for breaking into trade and custom magazines.
But sadly, they’re not so great at getting your foot in the door at Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Psychology Today, Parenting, or the rest of the glossy consumer magazines — unless you’re über famous.
These publications have hundreds of writers contacting them each week with well thought-out pitches, so if all you have to offer is “Here I am, don’t I rock?” then you’re going to look shabby next to the writers who approach the editors with stellar queries.
Not sure how to write a query letter? The next session of my 8-week Write for Magazines e-course starts in September 3, 2012, and the Basic version is Pay What You Want with a minimum payment of just $30. And…join my mailing list to get a free packet of 10 queries that rocked.
Stop doing this: Complaining about the writing business.
These days, editors who aren’t interested in your idea often don’t respond, even to send a rejection. Content mills pay pennies per word, if that. Some magazines are using citizen (read: free) journalists and bloggers to write their articles. Magazines are going under.
Suck it up.
Smart writers are using these difficult times to their advantage, riding the wave of exciting changes to build their bank accounts.
For example, I make a lot of my living mentoring and teaching writers who are sick of the content mills how to break out of that box and make a living freelancing. I also have mostly stopped pitching newsstand magazines and make most of my writing income from trade and custom publications.
Other writers are finding ways to earn income through their blogs by selling e-books and other products, finding underserved niches for their copywriting, and offering clients new media consulting and services.
The writers I hear complaining the most about the state of writing are the ones who are stuck in the past, mourning the way things used to be.
Ditch the negative and embrace the exhilarating changes that are taking place all around you in this industry.
Stop doing this: Apologizing for being a writer.
When someone asks what you do, do you tell them you’re a writer and then offer a caveat like “But I’ve never been published,” or “I’m doing it on the side while I work an unfulfilling day job” — or even no description or embellishment at all?
I just read Danielle LaPorte’s great new book The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms , and she talks about the importance of coming up with a cocktail line that stresses exactly what you do in the world.
For example, until I read this book, when people asked what I did for a living I’d say “I’m a writer,” cringing, and hope that the other person asked me what kind of writing I do or who I write for so I’d have the chance to prove that I’m an actual professional writer and not what she probably thinks: I work at the 7-11 while working on the fifth novel I’ll never send to publishers.
Now I say: “I write books and magazine articles, teach aspiring writers how to break into the business, and homeschool my 3-year-old son.”
Loud and proud, baby. How about you?
What else should writers all stop doing right this instant? Post your ideas in the Comments below! [lf]
If you liked that post, you might also like:
- 3 Ways to Escape the Content Mills and Earn More as a Freelance Writer
- Why I Haven’t Written a Query SInce 2010–And 5 Ways You Can Stop Querying But Still Make a Living as a Freelance Writer
- You Ask, I Answer: Do I Develop the Article Idea First or Find the Market First?
- Are Queries Dead?
- Why You Should Stop Thinking About Becoming a Freelance Writer