June 8, 2012

Things I’ve Learned About Helping Writers

I’ve been in the writer-helping business for quite a few years now. And I’ve learned a few things.

Indulge me while I share the things I’ve learned in the hopes that it may save you some trouble and encourage you if you’re in the writer-helping business too.

-Most writers are gracious, wonderful people who are happy to learn anything they can about writing from anyone who is willing to help them.

-Some writers don’t want help even when they ask for it. They just want you to give them positive strokes, but God forbid you make suggestions for improving their writing.

-Tread lightly when giving criticism. Remember that writing is very personal for a lot of people and it can hurt terribly to pour your heart on paper only to have it butchered by an insensitive editor.

-If you are exchanging money or conducting business, always use a contract—even with people you know. A contract clarifies what is expected and insures payment.

-Okay, I lied. A contract doesn’t insure payment. Be prepared to be paid late or not at all. Never work again for someone who doesn’t pay you.

-Your time is valuable. Guard it from those who would knowingly or unknowingly sabotage it. Decide how much time and advice you are willing to give for free and how much comes at a cost.

-Realize that strangers who don’t even know you may accept your help better than those who know you well. Jesus had this problem too so why should you be immune?

-Don’t keep doling out writing advice to those who never act on it.

-An experienced writer who is less well known, but accessible, is better than a bestselling author who cares nothing about you or your writing and is impossible to access.

-The advice of a famous writer will always trump your advice, even if their advice is wrong.

-Some people are naturally grateful. Others are naturally not. The level of gratefulness is rarely in proportion to the amount or quality of service rendered.

-Writing is hard work. Helping writers is hard work. Life is hard work.

-When you help a writer realize a writing dream, you forget all about the hard work.

That’s all for now, but a part 2 may come at a later date when I think of more.



Jimmie said...

Wow. I'm sure there is at least one story behind each of those truths. I'd love to sit and talk with you about them. One day.
It is hard to detach from my writing and receive criticism/edits without defending my reasoning. But when I can do that, I can truly hone my work into something far better.

Bonita said...

Yep, lots of stories- the lessons we learn as we go!