I was talking with a wise colleague about the ways people commonly give away their power — in work, in relationships, and life in general. When we give away our power, we lose out on the things we want and need in life. It occurred to me that writers seeking publication are vulnerable to specific ways of giving away their power if they’re not careful. Here are seven ways I came up with, and some ideas for avoiding them:
1. Thinking any single outside entity can make or break your career.
It’s truer now than ever before — writers have a multitude of options for getting their work in front of readers. No single agent or publisher or writing teacher need have a disproportionate influence on your writing career. Don’t give any one entity too much power.
2. Being intimidated by “the industry” or anyone in it.
You may feel like people out there (agents, publishers) have a lot of power and let’s be honest, some of them wield it rather arrogantly. But most of us don’t think of it as power at all. We’re just looking for the right authors and books for our needs. Just because it feels like the industry has the power, it doesn’t mean you have to hand over yours. Realize we’re all in this together and we have the same goals. Refuse to be intimidated.
3. Blindly following “expert” advice.
There is a LOT of advice out there, but not all of it is great. Always think carefully about it, run it through your own common sense filters and get multiple opinions when it makes sense. You keep your power by insisting on thinking everything through yourself.
4. Neglecting to work hard at the basics.
Everyone, no matter their career or chosen field, must do the hard work of becoming good at what they do. That’s where a great deal of your power lies — in your ability to study, learn, research, practice, whatever it takes to become the best. Don’t give up this key element of control over your future.
5. Giving up your own passion in favor of someone else’s ideas.
In any business, you’re going to be sensitive to what sells, what the market wants. As a writer, you’re looking at what readers want. But be careful to balance it out with your own ideas. You always want to be looking for the sweet spot where your own passion meets the market. This is true in any career, not just writing.
6. Constantly comparing yourself to others.
Comparison sucks the life out of your soul. Can I be any more graphic? Really, it’s a dream stealer and a motivation killer. And it gives away your power to be who you are, to value your own unique journey. Don’t give in to comparison.
7. Holding on to negative feelings.
Some writers have felt humiliated or devastated at the rejection of their writing. Some are resentful or angry at the establishment or the system that is so difficult to crack. I don’t think I need to tell you that holding on to these negatives can be one of the biggest ways to give away your power. You’re allowing yourself to be held hostage by the past, and you’re keeping barriers erected in front of yourself. Do whatever you need to do to let go of the negatives.
Have you given away your power in any of these ways? In any other ways? How did it affect you, and what did you do to change it?
[ Next Post → ] [ ← Previous Post ]