Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Leaving the kindergarten class

It may or may not be common knowledge that writers are their own worst critics. I confirm that it's true because I am rather critical of myself and my own work. Plus I believe my writing habits stink and I have a long-term contract with procrastination. When I am feeling "blue" about my commitment to writing, I spend a seemingly inordinate amount of time reading hoards of articles intended for aspiring or beginning writers. But a voice keeps singing, "Cheryl, you're past this stuff."

Now don't get me wrong, I'm convinced that I can always learn something new or be reminded of a crucial writing rule or practice by reading such material. But, let's face it, if that is where I turn to get my writing jumpstart, I may not be jumping very far for very long.

This idea was revealed to me in a newsletter written primarily for new writers. The editor/publisher even suggested other websites that targeted published and accomplished writers. I saw her point. I need to get out of the kindergarten writing class with its kiddie games and sandbox and mix it up with the older writing kids.

I unsubscribed from the "new writer" sites and signed up for newsletters designed for published and accomplished writers. Additionally, I made it a point to read and incorporate the material targeted to writers who have reached a certain level in their career. After all, some of the aspiring and new writers, whose letters I've been reading had never been published. They were lamenting the slow or no response from editors and their longing to be published in their local newspaper.

I don't want to boast, but, let's be real here. The first offer I made to an editor of a print magazine was accepted. Granted I didn't know squat about writing an article. All I had was passion for the topic and a desire to share it. I didn't start with a one-off article either. I began with a monthly column that ran for eight years. Multiple columns and feature articles published online and in print littered my eight-year journey to the point, one and half years ago, when I retired from my job to write full time.

Ever so often I read articles that encourage writers to toot their own horns because they are notorious for preferring to hang out at our desks with computer, books, notebooks and pen rather than market our skills and the services they can and want to offer the world. And I fit right in with this lot. I see what the writers are saying. I get it; it's important to the advancement of our careers and ongoing dreams to toot our horns, share our accomplishments and market our skills and experiences to provide certain writing and writing-related services.

So in true "professional freelance writer" fashion, I have resolved to stop warming my bag with my business cards and give them out liberally. I've added an ad on each of my three blogs. It mentions that I've been editing and writing feature articles, columns and web content for ten years, and asks readers and potential clients to call me to discuss their needs.

Am I afraid? You bet I'm afraid. I'll tell you what I fear. I fear that my writing will reach a point where I no longer relish the simple joy in playing with words. If you're a writer you know what I mean – the serene pleasure of the writing process, seeing my thoughts, the whispers in my heart, manifest themselves in words on the page and the computer screen.

I've taken a step forward, out of the kindergarten class, out of my comfort zone. And, while I await queries from potential clients and editors, I write.

Now, what about you, have you been holding back from marketing yourself and the services you are qualified to offer? How and what have you done or what are you going to do to rectify that? Feel free to share, I look forward to hearing from you.

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