Monday, August 15, 2005

Take An Attitude Check

If you’ve been reading these entries about the writing life, it doesn’t take long to catch my attitude with approaching my work in the publishing world. I don’t believe I’ve ever explicitly written about the importance of mind-set for the writer.   On a regular basis, I recommend different how-to books about writing. I’m currently reading Six Figure Freelancing, The Writer’s Guide to Making More Money (Random House Reference) by Kelly James-Enger. This excellent book released a few months ago and I’m finally getting a few evenings to read it.  For several years, I’ve known Kelly from our involvement in the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She’s a lawyer turned full-time freelance writer and has written several books including Ready, Aim, Specialize (a writing topic for another day). 

About eight years ago, Kelly took the leap of faith into full-time freelancing. It took several years for her to reach the six figure income. In her book, she helps writers go through the evaluation process to become more successful with their writing. Now I completely understand that success isn’t always judged by our bottom-line income—but that is one way of measuring your progress in the writing life. Over the next few days, I’m going to include a few quotes from this book as I personalize what I’m reading. I hope the experience will be helpful to several readers.

When Kelly evaluated her journey from someone dabbling in the writing life to a full-time freelancer, she boils the experience into three keys: mind-set, efficiency and connections. These three keys form the three major sections of her book. In today’s entry, I’m writing about this first one of mind-set or attitude.  While you may not have the goal of making six figures, you may have the goal of getting published and making more money or impact in the marketplace. Kelly takes the reader through an evaluation process that is helpful for every writer. What attitude do you take when you approach your writing?

I love what Kelly writes in her opening chapter, “I’m not a genius. I’m not a workaholic and, truth be told, I’m not even an exceptional writer. There are probably millions of writers out there who are more talented, more creative, and more gifted than me. But unlike many of them, I’ve figured out how to run my writing business—and it is a business. It wasn’t talent that transformed me into a six-figure freelancer. It was my attitude, my approach to my writing career, and my drive to succeed.” (p. 3) A little bit later she writes, “Every obstacle I encountered and overcame helped build my faith in myself as a self-employed writer. I became successful because I believed I could become successful. You can too. Believing that you can is the first step.” (p. 14, her emphasis from the book)

Kelly’s words ring true to me because I’ve followed the same path. Some people marvel at my prolific magazine and book writing. It’s not complicated and anyone else can do it as well. You can build an equal or exceed my body of work. It begins with the right attitude.

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