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Friday, May 18, 2012

Writers Worth Week: Deciding Your Own Worth

It's been a great week of sharing worth and inspiring others. Don't forget there's more next week!

Today's post comes from someone I've admired and watched for some time. I was fortunate enough to connect to Sharon Hurley Hall via Google+. In fact, I'd say becoming friends with Sharon was the best benefit I've ever received from Google+. Her blog is outstanding, as those of you who read it well know.

I'm thrilled to have today's post come from Sharon, who talks about how she learned to accept her worth long before she started freelancing.



What are You Worth? You Decide!
by Sharon Hurley Hall


Before you can accept your worth as a writer, you first have to accept your worth as a person. That's something only you can decide. I learned that the hard way while going through one of the toughest periods of my life - confronting racism when I was far away from home.

In my very early 20s I spent a year living in the South of France and for the first time I came face to face with people who made judgments about me based on something I had no control over - the color of my skin. Some were subtle about it; others were obvious.

I won't go into detail on all the many experiences of that year, but suffice it to say it was tough. In deciding how I was going to deal with the issue I could have turned the hatred back on the haters. But I didn't. Instead, I chose to shine a light on the ignorance and dispel some of the misconceptions.

I could also have allowed the haters' view of me to define how I saw myself. But I didn't. Even back then I knew my own value as a pretty decent human being - and I wasn't prepared to let anyone convince me otherwise, even if they didn't agree.

The thing is, you don't have to believe about yourself what others believe about you. You're better than that.

A Writer with Attitude
Bringing it back to the writing life, that attitude has carried through.
  • When I decided to go freelance, there were both supporters and detractors. I basked in the support and ignored the detractors - I knew that I could make a success of what I was doing.
  • When I got my first gig for a paltry sum, I never NEVER thought that all I was worth was 1c a word. I gave the same value that I give all my clients. They soon learned to value me as well, and that was reflected in earnings.
  • When clients disagreed with my approach, I explained where I was coming from and why what I was doing made sense.
  • When people looked at my photo online and made a snap decision that I wasn't the right person for them, I said 'their loss' and moved on.
Beyond Rejection
At no time did I allow rejection or ignorance to define my opinion of myself.
So my lesson is: it's not only about where you are now, it's about having a plan for where you are going. It's about knowing that you have the writing ability. It's about trading up whenever you can till you get to where you are comfy. And it's about continuing to do this throughout your life while remaining happy with what you have achieved so far.

Sharon Hurley Hall has been a professional writer for more than 20 years. She is passionate about helping other writers succeed through her Get Paid to Write Online blog.

23 comments:

Cathy Miller said...

Is it any wonder I love you so much, Sharon? :-) You are so right - if others don't see your worth & value, it is truly THEIR loss.

Great post about believing in yourself, Sharon. I'm blessed to call you friend. You are talented, generous and I am thankful for the good side of social media that brought us to your island. :-)

Sharon Hurley Hall said...

Between Lori's fulsome intro and your comment, I'm blushing already, Cathy - and it's a pleasure to call you a friend too. :)

Lori said...

Oh, I love a writer with attitude! :) I love how your life experiences became your filter for business, Sharon. Excellent approach.

Sharon Hurley Hall said...

Thanks, Lori - integrating the two is the best way to live a balanced life, in my opinion.

Devon Ellington said...

Many people who hate their lives and don't have the courage to change lash out at those of us who do. Just because someone flings a cow pattie -- be it physical or metaphorical -- at you, doesn't mean you have to take it in the chest. You can step back, smile when it hits the ground between you, and move on.

Good for you! We are all in this together. When one of us succeeds, it's good for everyone. When one of us struggles, it behooves us to offer a helping hand.

Nice to meet you -- I look forward to checking out your blog!

Sharon Hurley Hall said...

Nice to meet you too, Devon. I've been enjoying your insightful comments on Lori's blog for some time. This one is no exception - let's let the cow patties fall where they may. :)

Paula said...

Great post, Sharon. Your reaction to the haters is enough to show that you're a better person than most. It's easy to bite back, but takes character and faith in yourself to rise above prejudice and hatred.

Sometimes the best way to deal with ignorant people is to pity them - it must be hard being that stupid, shortsighted and living with so much negativity.

Other people don't have power over us unless we give it to them. Looks like Sharon's known that her whole life, and learned how to apply the same idea to her career.

Sharon Hurley Hall said...

To paraphrase something I've seen online, Paula the haters' opinion of me is none of my business. :)

Janet Thomson said...

Sharon,

What an awesome post! You are one of my favorite writers online. I admire your drive and accomplishments, and read your work often. Thanks for sharing such a personal moment in your life.

Sharon Hurley Hall said...

Thanks, Janet. That really means a lot to me. :)

Lori said...

Janet,I'm going to give a firm second to your post. :)

Wade Finnegan said...

Unfortunately, everywhere you go there will be people that judge based not on knowing you as a person, but on race, religion, profession etc. Obviously it is more prevalent in some situations more than others, but either way it can have negative repercussions in your life if you let it.

Bravo to you Sharon for standing up and letting such prejudices roll off you. No wonder you're successful, your attitude lets your talent shine through. Great post and first hand insight, thanks for sharing.

Sharon Hurley Hall said...

You're right, Wade, there are always a few of those people, but why give them power over you by letting them define you? It's not always easy to shrug negative experiences off, but it's generally worth it. :)

Writing It Right For You said...

This is such an awesome article, Sharon! You expressed the deepest feelings that many of us freelancers have experienced when people judge us superficially. I have had the same experiences of people JUST getting ready to hire me until they see my profile pic on my website. But I have now also had many other clients who hired me (and re-hired me and referred me) based only on my value to them and the excellence of my work. Thank you so much for this. I had sent it out to ALL of my networks! I am so glad you are "my girlfriend from across the pond"! Pam

Pamela Hilliard Owens said...

This is my Google avatar since my Writing It Right For You website avatar didn't show up. Thanks again!

Samar said...

Sharon, this post connects with me at a very personal level.

I spent the first 2 years of my freelancing life terrified of what folks would think if they realized I was a. a muslim, b. a head scarf wearer and c. a Pakistani (by this time I was usually hyperventilating).

I didn't mention it to anyone and no one mentioned it to me. It took a twitter acquaintance to make me realize that it really didn't matter.

We were talking stereo types when I mentioned being a hijabi (someone who wears a headscarf) and she said 'I know. I see your display picture every day'. That's when it struck me! People knew all along that I wore a head scarf. They might not know my nationality but they knew the other two important things without my even realizing it.

Before then I hadn't even thought of display picture giving me away - stupid really when you think about it but it never occurred to me :)

So while there have been clients who haven't gotten back to me after they find out where I'm from I chose to think that they were uncomfortable with using a freelance writer for whom English was a second language and not my Muslim, headscarf wearing, Pakistani passport carrying self. And even then, it's their loss.

I write kick ass stuff. Because English is my second language, I go through everything twice as much to make sure there are no mistakes.

It took me a while but I figured out my own worth eventually :)

Sharon Hurley Hall said...

@Pam, I've had a lot of the second kind too, which partly makes up for the ignoramuses. Once I realized I didn't have consent to anyone trying to make me feel inferior, I was ahead of the game.

@Samar, thanks so much for sharing your experience - it's good that you know your own worth. (And I never realized that English was your second language - any client would be lucky to work with you!)

Anne Wayman said...

Amen Sharon, Amen!

Sharon Hurley Hall said...

Thanks, Anne. :)

Kimberly Ben said...

Wow, I've been working offline a lot over the past month, otherwise I certainly wouldn't have missed responding to this. I LOVE, LOVE this line: "At no time did I allow rejection or ignorance to define my opinion of myself." The value in that statement is alone is something I truly hope all people (not just freelancers) walk away feeling like this about their worth.

I am African American & Muslim (so, yeah - I feel you, Samar). My first time meeting with a client face-to-face wearing my hijab, I was beyond nervous. You should have seen the look on my clients' faces when I introduced myself! But before that meeting was over, we were both laughing, joking and discussing future projects for his firm. I worked with them for three years until he was forced to close his business and move, thanks in part to the recession.

Bottom line, I know what I bring to the table: I'm good at what I do. I'm dedicated and have a strong work ethic thanks to years spent working in deadline-centered environments in the corporate world. I define myself.:)

Sharon Hurley Hall said...

"I define myself" - love that, Kimberly. Thanks for sharing your experience. :)

Nicole Fende said...

Sharon thanks for sharing your experience. Even though I'm white, living in Asia gave me a chance to experience racism. Sometimes the assumptions were in my favor (white person has $$$$ wait on her first), sometimes they were not (gweilo - which means white devil). Either way it was frustrating to be judged based on how I looked. Your advice that "haters' opinion of me is none of my business." is spot on. Once I let go of that I was much happeier.

Sharon Hurley Hall said...

Very frustrating, Nicole, but taking that attitude helps. It took me a little while to get to that point, but it's been very helpful ever since.

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