7 Quick Ways to Destroy Your Writing Career

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Join Jennifer y amigos over at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.

People, I am ON FIRE! Possibly not in the “with the Holy Spirit” sense, but then again, I may be on fire to do one of my least favorite Spiritual Works of Mercy: Admonish Sinners.

People. PEOPLE! People. Writing may seem like a solitary career, but go check your Bible. “It is not good for the man to be alone” comes up there pretty early on. That tells me that God finds our need for community pretty important. Yes, some of us (including JESUS, the Ultimate Introvert) recharged best in solitude…

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…but nothing we do echoes out into nothingness, least of all writing. You might start out all by yourself at your keyboard, but what we write is that one tree in the forest that doesn’t make a sound if nobody’s around to hear. You’ll have beta readers, critique partners, agents, editors, art departments, marketing, reviewers and on and on. That is, of course, if you want a fighting chance of having people read your stuff.

However, if you piss off enough of those types listed above, eventually you will fell a tree, and it will be a silent fall, because anybody who could have helped you will have left for another forest. Here’s how to make that happen.

7 Ways to Destroy Your Writing Career (Usually Before It’s Even Started)

  1. Voice your indignant complaints. How dare those reviewers not approve my book for the CWG Seal of Approval! How dare that person give me a three star review? I deserve more attention than that [insert name of other, more successful author here] does! Nobody responded to my presentation at the conference! Wah wah wah. If your expectations cannot be satisfied, nobody will want to bother with you. So when you need feedback to get over some hurdle in your writing, or when you need reviewers or hosts for your virtual book tour, you know what you’ll hear? Crickets, that’s what. Nobody wants to hear you complain any more than they already have.
  2. Be unteachable. You’re perfect. You have nothing to learn. Ask people to read your work and give you feedback, but if that feedback isn’t praise, it’s because the reader is stupid. BONUS: Make sure you communicate that stupidity to your reader. After all, that reader needs to know how stupid he/she is. While we’re at it, don’t forget to…
  3. Be a know-it-all but tell people you’re “helping.” Be super-eager to tell people how wrong they are. Delight in their wrongness. Exult in how glorious your knowledge is above theirs. You deserve a pat on the back for “helping” those people see their abject humility. You’ll have to pat your own back, though, because nobody will want to do it for you.
  4. Insult the people who could help you. Confession time: This is one I’ve actually done. I was given the job of introducing a relatively well-known and successful author at a conference… and I lost track of time and did not start her session on time. She lost valuable minutes because I was being a 7th grader, chatting with a friend in the back of the room instead of watching the clock and doing my job. This author dropped several lead-heavy hints through the rest of the talk that we were short on time. This author gave me several dirty looks throughout the rest of the conference. Deservedly so. Did I initially insult this person on purpose? No, but it doesn’t matter: the results were the same. Now, did this author treat me with compassion or obvious forgiveness? Mmmm, not so much, but if I want to build for myself a reputation as a class act rather than a drama queen, I had better shut my mouth, accept my consequences with dignity, and above all, never ever…
  5. Seek revenge. Has someone dared to give you anything less than a five-star review? Awesome. Go to that person’s Amazon page and rip her work to as many shreds as you can. Feed that conflict. The only thing better than being right is being more right than the person who wronged you. Right? Riiiiight.
  6. Only help another if you’ll get something out of it. Make sure everyone around you knows that you don’t care about them as actual people, for the love of Pete. Only give reviews to people who might be able to further your career. Did that person still turn down your work, even after you gave his/her stuff all kinds of flattery? The nerve! Repeat Points 4 & 5 above.
  7. Be the person whose feelings everyone is afraid to hurt. Trust me, by the time you’ve gotten through 1-6, you’ll already be that person. You’ll be the writer who has ridiculous plots, boring characters, awful grammar & usage, consistently inconsistent point-of-view, jokes that fall flat, pointless marketing plans… all because nobody had the courage to tell you you might need to see your writing through someone’s eyes but your own.

Wait… what? You don’t want to be that writer? Silly you. Well, I guess you’ll have to pray for the grace to have patience, dignity, and class. But good luck with that. If you’re not a jerk, you may have people get close enough to actually help you be the writer God wants you to be.

 

 

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14 comments

  1. I wouldn’t say I WASN’T aware of these things, but thanks for restating them. It’s good to remember that stuff so you can be wary of being like that. The Seven Deadly Sins of Writers…. 🙂
    Aul

    1. I hadn’t even thought of that, the seven deadly sins of writers! That sort of solidifies the idea that, as long as you’re being kind to everyone, you won’t commit any of these sins, or if you do, you’ll have the sense to ask forgiveness and make restitution. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Important, important points. Thank you for sharing these. I’ve found that I tend to be less honest about my reaction to someone’s written work when I know that writer is going to be exhibiting any of these behaviors. That less-than-fully-candid approach ultimately hurts the writer’s growth.
    The reverse is also true: the best and most prolific, multi-genre writer I’ve worked with could, at nearly 60 years old, take correction from a far less experienced writer and use it to his advantage.
    Thank you, again, for the reminders. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment. I like that bit about that 60-year-old writer. Kindness and civility give us staying power, it seems. What’s nice though is that if we make the bad mistakes, we can always correct them by treating people with class.

  3. Doesn’t the modern art world live off #2? I sure am tired of being told that I “don’t get it” when I criticize something I don’t like.

    Nice list! I should work on practicing humility more.

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