Sunday, August 09, 2020

The Challenge for Every Learner

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
Several weeks ago, a reader contacted me about my book, Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. He had read the book and marked different pages in the book for additional study and action. Sometimes a picture is worth 1,000 words and this reader sent an image.

I smiled at his use of post-its in books because when I read books, I often use the same system. I mark different passages with a highlighter and post-its. Then I return to these places and apply the material to my writing life and work. It is a system that I've been using successfully in my own life for years to keep growing as a writer.
While I've been in publishing many years, have a college degree in journalism from a top university, and have been attending writers conferences and classes for years, here's the key: I still have much more to learn as a writer.
Are you continuing to grow as a writer or have you arrived? I've interviewed more than 150 bestselling authors. In this process, I've met a few authors who have acted like they have “arrived” at the pinnacle of their profession. It is not an attractive attitude to witness and in fact a turn off for me. As I have watched what happened to people with this arrival attitude, I've noticed they have faded from the bestseller lists and are now in relative obscurity. Yes still around the community but not currently producing bestselling books. If you have that “arrival” attitude, I would challenge you to change it. Make sure you have others in your life who will give you honest feedback. With this honest feedback, you can continue to grow and learn as a writer.
As writers we need to keep learning and growing. In this process of growing, there is a tricky balance between continuing to learn and taking action. To move forward as a learner, you have to be doing more than learning, , you need to apply that learning to your work. Recently I was speaking with a writer colleague about this issue: many people take courses—but don't take action (implemention—where the rubber meets the road).
There is an old saying, “Knowledge is Power.” This statement is true—but only if you act on the information in your head. For example, I know about Goodreads and how every author can select quotes from their book and add them into Goodreads quotes. You give other people automatic permission to use your quotes—and promote your book. It's good to know that fact—but worthless if you don't take action, choose the quotes and them put them on Goodreads. Several weeks ago I wrote about the details of this process (follow this link to see this article.) This is just one example of dozens of things authors need to do to take action.

Recently I learned about the free online courses from the Muck Rack Academy. One course is on social media and the other is on pitching to journalists. I've completed the course on social media and learned a number of valuable insights which I implemented into my social media. The second course on pitching to journalists, I'm about to finish but have yet to implement it into my own writing life. I am a learner but have the same challenges of every writer—finding balance between learning and implementation (taking action).
How do you find the balance between learning and taking action in your writing life? Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, August 02, 2020

The Power of Words

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I live near Denver, Colorado and watch some local news on Channel 9.  Countless times I've watched Marty Coniglio give his weather forecast. He has been with the station for 16 years. Like many in journalism, Coniglio is active on Twitter. Last week, he sent out a tweet comparing federal troops to Nazis. Here's the details in the Denver Post article. He is no longer employed at the station. As I read the story, it reminded me that our words have power.

The Danger of A Habit

As a reader, I have been reading and listening to books for years. Each time I write a short review (normally less than 150 words) and post my review on Amazon and Goodreads. I've written over 1,000 Amazon reviews and over 600 reviews on Goodreads (where I have 5,000 friends and my reviews get a lot of attention and reading). I read and listen to many different types of books. Recently I listened to part of a bestselling book—which was filled with hatred (in my view every sentence). As an editor, I often evaluate a book based on a short portion. In this case, I decided not to listen to the rest of the book and wrote that information into my short review. I followed my habit and posted the review on Amazon and Goodreads. There are hundreds of reviews for this book and my review joined those reviews.

The final portion of my habit is to post my review with the cover on social media. I have over 200,000 Twitter followers, over 18,900 connections on LinkedIn and over 4900 Facebook friends. I didn't think about my posting because it is a habit. The reaction surprised me but I should have known when I did it. I spent about 48 hours on Facebook monitoring, deleting and even blocking some people (when you have 4,900 “friends” it is no big personal loss to block some people). My short post was consuming way too much energy and time. I deleted the post on all of my social media platforms. In a few minutes, it was gone. Did lots of people see it? Yes and I learned even with a habit to think about each post.

I temporarily forgot some critical things about the Internet and social media. While you may be writing the material for yourself, other people read it. part of the social media process is other people are going to respond and react to whatever you said. Also these words are often out online forever. In this volatile, on-edge world, common sense reminds of the small talk advice: “avoid religion and politics.” It also applies to our social media. From this experience, I was reminded our words matter. In fact, our words have power and people read them. It's good to use caution and wisdom with what you put online.

As you write today, be aware your words have power to heal or to harm. Let me know your thoughts about this subject in the comments below.


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