Friday, June 20, 2008

Freelance Writing Commandment #2 - Grow A Thick Skin

Being a writer is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of rejection in this business. Editors, clients, members of your audience, people you consider friends, and at some point, even your grandmother may call you to task on something you've written. To survive, writers need to develop a thick skin.

What A Thick Skin Isn't

  • It isn't an excuse for being pig headed and dismissing all critiques and criticisms.

  • An opportunity to bash other people and then tell them to develop an armor like yours.

  • An excuse to live in La-La land where your skills and wit is beyond reproach.

What A Thick Skin Does

  • It allows you to receive critiques from clients and editors with professional grace.

  • It encourages you to consider criticism and how to use the information given to produce the right product for the client/editor.

  • Provides a barrier so you barely blink at random "You Suck!" comments instead of dissolving into a ball of raw emotion.

  • It allows you to see the other person's perspective - does the client/editor have a point? Can you understand the reader's concern?

  • It keeps your bills paid. No one wants to work with someone who can't accept criticism. If you fly off the handle on enough clients, word will get around that you're difficult to work with. "What do you mean I need a period there! Arrrrrr! You have no vision!" Also, when the client/editor pushes back on your going rate, you won't suffer the dreaded crisis of self-esteem: "Maybe I'm not worth that much, I NEED this gig! I'll do anything for it, including working 50 hours for $50!!!" Instead you can calmly point out your skill, the going rate of others in the field and stand your ground.

A thick skin and a positive attitude will keep you in the freelancing game a lot longer. So what after months of jerking you around and promises of an assignment - your pitch was rejected? Re-pitch the idea to another publication and learn from the last experience.

How thick is your skin? What type of things still get under your armor?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...
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J.S.Chancellor said...

I recently received some feedback from my editor that really settled a little too much under my skin.
My mistake? Working with an editor outside of my genre. Its amazing how quickly some small comment can make you suddenly feel completely unable to write...talk about a block.

Terreece M. Clarke said...

Working outside your genre feels a lot like starting over and the smallest slight can send you heading for the comfort of your niche, but keep at it, you know you can do it, it'll just take getting some experience in that new area.

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