by: Bonnie Boots
People that love to write often feel being paid for publication is the
benchmark of a “real” writer. So they read all the books on writing and
dutifully send off queries, filled with hope and fear that one will be
accepted: hope they’ll get the chance to be a real writer, fear they won’t
live up to the challenge. Sadly, for some, their fears will turn out to be
well founded. The emotional highs and lows of writing for pay will be more
painful then they can bear. Shocked, wounded, these natural writers will put
their dreams behind them in the mistaken belief that they’re not good enough to write for publication.
Why does this happen? Because books on writing often fail to tell the
aspiring writer the one thing they most need to know: the marketplace
demands more than talent. It demands that the writer be skilled at dancing
between the emotional states of passion and detachment. It seems like a
conundrum, and it is, so let’s unravel this riddle.
The writer filled with fervor for the process of writing produces the best
product. And in the marketplace, that’s just what your article, poem, short
story or novel is—a product. Products, whether they are romance novels or
car wax, are pretty much processed, pimped and put on the shelves the same way. All sorts of people, from editors to advertising sales managers, have
their hand in the marketing process. They have the power to tweak, alter and otherwise transfigure the product. As a writer, it takes emotional
detachment to watch, even help as your beloved work is worked on.
The ability to call forth and control your emotional states is a primary
survival skill if you hope to write for print. Can it be learned? Yes. In
his book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ,” Daniel
Goleman says the ability to master emotions often makes the difference
between success and failure in people of equivalent intellectual abilities.
He suggests these steps for increasing self-control:
(1) Pay attention to your emotional states. Don’t just let excitement or
fear run riot over you. Use your writer’s “inner eye” to observe and record
your own emotional states. Simply being aware of your emotions is the first
step to controlling them.
(2) Get it off your chest. Rejection hurts. Seeing your carefully considered
words edited for publication is painful. If your feelings have been hurt, by
all means vent, but do it in a journal and not, under any circumstance, in a
nasty email to an editor or a hastily posted blog. Nothing is learned from
burning bridges, and you could seriously injure your chances of ever being
published. Editors and publishers read the net, too, you know.
(3) Consider the other person’s point of view. Editors and publishers have
to deal with issues you know nothing about. Before you take personal
offence, stop to consider their side. If an editor doesn’t quickly answer
your query, stop and imagine the view from their desk. If you got 1000
letters a week AND had to handle the work of 2 because of staff cuts, might
you put mail on the back burner?
(4) Try not to take it personally. This can be especially difficult for
writers, because our work is so very personal. But when your feelings are
hurt, it’s important to take a step back and realize that in business,
decisions may need to been made that have nothing to do with YOU,
(5) Stay well-mannered and self-motivated. Being polite and persevering even when your feelings have been hurt is a definite sign of emotional maturity.
The ability to keep your cool and keep moving ahead will take you places
talent alone can only dream of.
Like any skill, learning to waltz between passion and dispassion takes
practice and persistence. Some writers tap a tentative foot, then withdraw
to be wallflowers the first time someone steps on their toes. But you can
survive and even thrive by joining the dance with passion and purpose,
accepting the thrills as well as the spills as you learn to step with the
About The Author
Bonnie Boots (www.BonnieBoots.com) is an award-winning writer and designer who says all writers should show off their talent by wearing their Write
Side Out! Her wise and witty product line of gear that shows the world
you're a writer is at www.writesideout.com