Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Don't Do This Writing Life All On Your Own

I feel like I'm about to sound like a children's show host, but here goes. I've learned a very important lesson lately about asking for help.

Things are just hard sometimes, in and outside of our writing lives. (Whether these two lives are actually separate things or not is arguable, but that's another post.) The thing is, I really think these hard times show us exactly why there are other people on this earth--to help and be helped. There's no reason for anyone to face hard things on their own, especially when a little help from someone else will make a big difference. People say writing is a solitary endeavor, and in many ways it is, but really I think the barriers to success shrink in direct proportion to our willingness to ask other people for help.

Let fellow writers sympathize creatively. Yeah its up to you to put words on the page, but there are so many out there who relate to how hard that can be. They know the struggle, and can sympathize. They may even be able to give you tips and life-alteringly great advice.

Let businessy people help you with businessy things. My poor dad...if he got paid as my marketing consultant/legal adviser/financial analyst/therapist he would be a rich man. The business side of writing has so many twists and turns. Get advice from the people around you who know more than you do about these things. As writers we can use and apply advice from lawyers, marketers, agents, psychologists, all types of people.

Let smart readers read for you. I recently swallowed my pride enough to ask one of my bloggy mates to read my query for me. I also asked one of my former professors to read my novel. Not easy for me to do, but can I just tell you how much of a difference they made? A BIG DIFFERENCE. These are some smart, incredibly generous people and now my query shines like Patrick Stewart's head. SO MUCH BETTER than it was before.

Let people help you in messy life stuffs. Sometimes you just need to hire a babysitter or a house cleaning service or lawn care service or whatever, so you can get writing stuff done. Let people help you take care of those things that are getting in the way.

In other words, look at what's overwhelming you and figure out how some help can lighten the load. I'm learning to not be ashamed of this. Because we all go through phases. It's like leap-frog: sometimes we're giving people the boost, sometimes we need the boost ourselves. There's absolutely room enough for all of us to have success, and we'll get there so much faster and better by helping each other out. Let people do that for you. Maybe right now you (I) need peoples help quite a lot, but that means that once I've got my feet on solid ground I can turn around and pull someone else up with me.

Sarah Allen


  1. Very true, Sarah! It helps to have friends around with the same problems as you. I long ago gave up my writing group, but some of us still stay in touch and help each other. And it helps, too, to ask for the advice of people who specialise in the area you're writing abut, eg ask someone scientific to check your physics in a science fiction story.

  2. Help is there, we just have to ask.
    And I believe our purpose in life is to make the lives of others better in whatever way possible.

  3. Completely agree, it's good have to have people around who can help. And that's what dads are for!

  4. So true. My first years of writing were very lonely though as I didn't know anyone who supported my wish to write. I'm just starting to meet likeminded people.

  5. Love your comments, Sarah. Took me many years to learn all this stuff - and I'm still learning! Good for you!

  6. I don't know how I coped before discovering all the wonderful writers online. It helps to know you're not alone!

  7. Excellent advice. For writers this is the helpful part of being part of a blogging community. People outside of the writing life are going to often be negative or unrealistic. We need to hear from others playing the same game.

    A Faraway View

  8. And don't forget the most important part, acknowledge them all in in your work once you're published.

    Because without our helpers where would we be?

    Well, done and cheers to you. :-)


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