Friday, March 23, 2012

What You Won't Do

For some reasons, writers are notorious for spouting what they won't do when it comes to honoring their profession,

== I won't self-publish.
== I won't pay an entry fee for a contest.
== I won't write for free.
== I won't wrote for less than ten cents/word.
== I won't do Facebook.
== I won't travel to self-promote.
== I don't have time to blog.

As a previous administrative director, which meant one of my departments was human resources, I used to tell people never to put what you couldn't do on a resume. Now, as a writer, I advise others in my profession to only talk positive in a query.

Don't say you are retired which can insinuate fixed income, limited resources, or inability to travel to young eyes. Instead of saying retired, say you write full-time and your  time is your own to promote and write.

Don't say you are a new writers without clips. Instead talk about your strengths and knowledge about the subject matter being pitched.

Don't say you are fresh out of school trying to find your place. Say you have a degree and propose you have the qualities that would make for a good employee, columnist, freelance contributor.

It isn't about what you won't do. You define yourself too tightly and tell the world that you can be narrow-minded. You also tout your weaknesses in many people's perspectives, and in this day of rampant competition, you want to be remembered for who you are, not what you aren't.

Instead, state what you PREFER to do. Hear how pro-active and positive that sounds?

You prefer wholesome writing (you are not anti-erotica).
You like contests (you aren't anti-entry fee).
You promote heavily online and in your region (you aren't anti-travel).
You maintain a website (you aren't anti-blog).

Ears perk up when you define what you aren't, but that's how people cull who's in their world. Nobody likes negative. You might be selective, but let your positive choices drive your image, not the negative. Be remembered as the one wearing the white hat.


Lyn Fairchild Hawks said...

Hi, Hope,

I wonder if some people say to themselves, "Well, I gotta have standards!" But the trick is, as you say, in stating those standards positively. Sure, you don't want to travel a lot---then just as you mentioned, call yourself a regional promoter. (I love all your rephrasings!)

I heard one time that if you want to quit smoking, you shouldn't say, "I will not smoke," but "I want to be healthy and my lungs full of clean air." Because when the brain hears, "smoking," it thinks, "where's my next cigarette?" I think there's some application here. If we fill our minds with self-righteous negativity, then we're in a defensive rather than open mode. We're not growing.

I'm preaching to myself here as I revise my novel!


Hope Clark said...

Right, Lyn! It's all in how we look at things. Be positive and we see positive!

Heather Marsten said...

Excellent post - and timely for me. Thanks for sharing.

Jennifer Fitz said...

I had to put myself through this in a recent author's bio. Most other writers on my topic had many more years of experience than me. But I knew that what I had to say was valuable, and unique, and I had checked it with more experienced folks and gotten 100% agreement.

So in my bio, I didn't mention years at all. I just told my story -- how I came to be an expert on my subject, and what I had to share.

Of course I'll happily stick review copies in the hands of those guys with 30 years experience, so they can tell everyone that I got it right :-).