What I'm listening to: Bloodstream by Ed Sheeran
I'm not so busy that I haven't been able to interact on forums and LinkedIn groups. It was on one particular thread that I noticed it. The writer had made reference to needing to do something to bring in more money, to move herself in a new direction.
Per usual, the advice was there. Have you tried this? Why not reach into that area? Good advice from a number of successful writers. I would have been happy to receive such support.
I won't say the writer wasn't grateful -- she was. She thanked everyone for their input. It's what she did next that tells me she's not moving anywhere but possibly backward.
She started making excuses.
Part of her excuse-making did stem from a bit of venting/whining. We all go through that, right? But the larger part -- the important part -- was that she wasn't showing any desire to take the advice and try it out. Looked more like she'd rather fuss about what's broken than actually doing anything to reverse the trend.
It's the Excuse Train, and she'd bought a one-way ticket.
I get it; we writers all have periods where work isn't there and where clients seem to evaporate like water on a sidewalk in August. It's not that we don't go through the exact same things. It's how we respond that separate us.
Peter Bowerman has an excellent post on his blog about pushing beyond our comfort zones. Rather than repeat his advice, just visit and give him some comment love.
What Peter says is true -- you have to go to where it's uncomfortable or unfamiliar before you'll take your business to the next level.
So if your business is stagnant or floundering, what could be the cause? Here are a few to ponder:
Inertia. Isn't it just easier to say "Freelancing is dead!" rather than proving that statement false? It's not as much work to declare something like that than to market your ass off or make contact at trade shows or networking events. The success of your writing business is directly proportional to the amount of energy you put into it.
Stagnancy. Really, read Peter's post. It's a great reminder that we're never done growing as writers. Even the cushiest of writing careers go stale. Think of your business as a plant. If you don't water, it's going to wither and die.
Fear of failure. If you've ever thought or said "I can't" when thinking of moving into a new area, fear is the reason. If you've ever said "I'd love to, but..." remove the "but." Then do what you said you'd love to do.
Lack of talent. Not everyone who calls himself a writer can actually write. In a recent conversation, a client told me "You'd be surprised how many writers we've seen who deliver stuff full of typos and grammar mistakes." Sadly, no I wouldn't. I've seen writers who call themselves gurus and mentors who can't string together a coherent thought. If you don't take your craft seriously, how can you expect clients to?
Not thinking creatively. It always astounds me when writers don't think far enough beyond their current borders. So you're writing for the landscaping industry. You feel you're stuck in that industry, but you're not. Think about what industries support that one -- how about power tools, manual tools, associations, seed companies, plant producers, patio, deck, mulch.....you name it. Stop thinking so narrowly. Go to a trade show or even a home show if you have to. You'll be shocked to see just how far-reaching that one industry can be.
Your attitude toward the work. Deadlines still mean something. So do your client's requirements, the project parameters, and the contract you signed. If you went silent or got too loud with a client, you've just lost one more connection, one more recommendation, one more potential referral and repeat customer.
Arrogance. Honestly, I've seen writers who think because they were once somebody (somehow or other) or they have enough experience to finally be somebody, they needn't try. "I want them to come to me!" Alas, it's a big planet and it's really easy to overlook one person, no matter how talented they think they are.
Writers, what have you seen that gets in the way of success?