The Jealous Writer

Are You a Smart Writer?

Are You a Smart Writer?

Confession time. I have a problem with writer jealousy. It’s not a serious case, but enough that it requires energy and effort to keep it at bay.

As a child, I was known as The Smart One. But like most who want what they don’t have, I preferred any of these titles, The Cute One, The Funny One, or The Sweet OneAlas, I wasn’t gifted with any of those labels. And I allowed my thoughts over what I wasn’t to overshadow the gift of who I was.

As a woman, I know discontent. Over my hair color, body shape, shoe size, and the shade of my eyes. Insecurity reeks a crushing blow to productive energy. I’d love to recapture the minutes and hours of my youth, spent on wishing I looked more like someone else. I could reinvest my lost time in doing something meaningful.

Are You a Funny Writer?

Are You a Funny Writer?

As a professional author, I too battle the green-eyed monster. When I read an eloquent beauty, a humorous author, a sweet wordsmith, or a creative powerhouse, I often wish I wrote like them. I tremble in the shadows of a thick plot, riddled with mystery, nuances, and intrigue. I covet the ability to paint rich landscapes, where every small touch blends to perfection. I feel sad that I can’t make readers belly laugh like my hysterical peers. My heart’s desire is to embellish dialogue with verbs so strong that the reader forgets where they are as soon as they climb into the story. 

Are You a Sweet Writer?

Are You a Sweet Writer?

But there’s hope for a jealous writer like me. 

  • Through age, I’ve learned it’s okay to be me, as designed by God. The child in me couldn’t see the benefit of my unique outlook on things. But now I know if the building’s burning down, pretty, funny, and sweet won’t get you out.
  • Through maturity, I’m learning to appreciate my gifts. I am who I am, and so are the irrevocable qualities others see in me.
  • I’m a serious student by nature, and can’t help sharing God-inspired knowledge and wisdom. Like a sponge, I absorb and release.

    Are You a Cute Writer?

    Are You a Cute Writer?

I don’t know if I’ll ever get past reading a hilarious story, and wishing I could write like its author. But I resolve to remember that just as an arm can’t do an ear’s job, neither can I write what someone else is called to. I may always long to write a great novel, but not until I finish the current race set before me.

Jealous writers who allow themselves to wallow won’t have time or energy to produce their own good work. I am a professional, aged-to-perfection, mature author. This is how I choose to focus my thoughts, so I can create the projects I’m uniquely qualified for. After all, if I don’t write them, who will?

Do you ever struggle with writer’s jealousy?

Write From the Truth of Who You Are

Write From the Truth of How You are Wired

Don’t Sabotage Your Writing/Speaking Career

WordServe Water Cooler is pleased to host this excellent article by James N. Watkins.

Welcome, James!

I’ve been editing professionally since 1972. (Of course, I started when I was five!) I’ve seen just about everything: Cover letters that said, “God dictated this article to me. I don’t even know what it means.” Submissions from aliens: the extraterrestrial kind. Envelopes spray-painted gold, which I assume was intended to make them stand out from all the plain old white envelopes. Hand-written submissions on lined paper. And now in the age of word-processing with 400 fonts, submissions that look like ransom notes.

So, here are some ways to avoid sabotaging your writing/speaking career—in no particular order.

1. UNPROFESSIONAL EMAIL ADDRESS

If you’re going to be a professional writer/speaker, you need a professional-sounding email address. Two of the worst I’ve seen: snugglebunny77@yahoo.com and—I’m not making this up—wordwhore@hotmail.com. Even yahoo.com, gmail.com, and hotmail.com strike this grumpy old editor as a bit unprofessional. Get a domain name and a host that will allow you to use that as your email address. For example, jim @ jameswatkins.com actually goes to my yahoo account, but it’s masked so all you see is the domain name.

2. UNPROFESSIONAL FACEBOOK AND TWITTER POSTS

You’ll probably want a Facebook account for only your family and close friends and then one separate for your professional presence.

Your followers don’t want to know what you’re fixing for dinner unless you’re writing gourmet cook books. And unless your brand is “Cat Whisperer,” I don’t want to see pictures of your adorable kitties. (And having more than five cats qualifies you as “crazy cat lady.”) Make sure every post provides value to your readers and fits with your “brand” (See point 5).

3. NO WEB PRESENCE, UNPROFESSIONAL WEB PRESENCE

When your book proposal comes before the pub board, the first thing the editors and marketing minions do—who are surgically attached to their laptops and smart phones—is go to google.com and type in your name. If you don’t show up, you don’t exist! And if you don’t exist, you don’t get a contract. It is absolutely necessary that you have a Web site, blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts online.

But having no presence may be better than having an unprofessional presence! With WordPress.com and Blogger.com anyone can have a free blog (Web log). The bad news is many of templates offered don’t appear to this grumpy old editor as professional: animated .gifs, cutesy art work, kitties, etc. etc.

Your Web presence is a determining factor in whether a publisher will give your proposal further consideration or a conference director will consider you as a speaker. Spend—no INVEST—in professional help in creating a professional-looking site. And make sure you have a professional edit the copy.

4. UNPROFESSIONAL BUSINESS CARDS

Just because you’re a Christian writer doesn’t mean your business cards and Web site must have a cross, dove, empty tomb or—if you’re Charismatic—tongues of fire. Remember the KISS principle. Keep it simple, saints!

And including “Professional Writer” makes me suspect. Would you go to a “Professional Brain Surgeon”?! I don’t think so! (What is he or she trying to prove?)

5. NOT BEING “BRANDED”

Ouch! That sounds painful, but “branding” is a buzz word in the business and publishing world.

Basically, branding is what readers and audiences expect when they see your name on a book cover or on a conference brochure. You can’t be all things to all people, so do some soul-searching and discover your unique role in the writing/speaking arena.

My brand—for articles, books, Web site, speaking engagements, convenience store grand openings—is “Hope and Humor.” (www.hopeandhumor.org). So whether I’m writing, speaking or blogging, people expect hope and humor. (So writing bloody murder mysteries would totally massacre—pun intended—my brand.)

What does your audience (or “tribe”) expect? Be specific and then deliver on your brand.

6. “FREE” PUBLISHING THAT COSTS YOU

Services, like www.lulu.com and www.createspace.com, offer free e-book and print-on-demand publishing services. (Everyone loves free!) You simply upload your Word document and post your homemade cover and you can have your book as an e-book on amazon in a few hours and your paperback or hardcover book on your doorstep within the week. And you only pay for the actual wholesale price of the books. What a deal. It is a deal IF and ONLY IF . . .

. . . you have it professionally edited (and not by your English teacher cousin). If your online or in-print presence is filled with errors, it can ruin your writing career.

. . . you have your cover professionally designed (and not by your sister-in-law who happens to own Adobe Illustrator—unless she’s working with it professionally.) An amateurish cover, again, can ruin your writing career—or at least book sales.

Please. Please. Please, take this warning to heart. I see so many “self-published” books that just scream AMATEUR! That free service can cost you your reputation.

And if you’re investing your hard-earned money in one of the hundreds of self-publishers out there, please read these additional warnings. (There are hundreds of self-publishers who are amateurs at best and scam artists at worst.)

7. HAVING A “REPUTATION”

Christian publishing is a relative small club. Editors meet regularly at conferences and professional meetings, and we talk about writers and speakers. Believe me, we know who the people are who committing professional suicide by being unprofessional, “high maintenance,” telling off editors who don’t appreciate their brilliant talent, missing deadlines and burning “bridges.” And speakers with “prima donna” complexes by demanding special treatment also can sink under the weight of their bad reputations.

There are many more such as playing the God card: “God told me to write this.” But seven sounds like a biblical number. And by being aware of these, you’ll protect your good name as a writer/speaker.

To find out more about James, please visit the links. (c) 2012 James Watkins (www.jameswatkins.com) for American Christian Writers (www.acwriters.com).