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10 Promises Writers Should Make To Themselves To Hang Onto Their Digni

10 Promises Writers Should Make To Themselves To Hang Onto Their Dignity

July 28, 2015

Flickr, Drew Coffman
Flickr, Drew Coffman

1. I will use social media wisely. If I have work to share, I will share it. But I will never blog/tweet/Facebook about how hard writing is or how many words I wrote today. Nobody cares! And every time I get caught humblebragging (“I am overwhelmed by all the talent here at Yaddo!”), I will donate $10 to PEN.

2. I will not be a dick. Given the following conditions, I will always help other writers: (a) the other writer is deserving of help, that is, not a dick and talented; (b) the request is reasonable; and (c) the request does not greatly infringe upon my own time.

3. I will not surrender my autonomy to gatekeepers. I will not wait around for some magic agent or editor to magically make my career magical, especially when I can be writing, submitting and networking for myself. Nor will I ever (and this is really important) assume that anyone in the publishing business will put my needs above his or her own.

4. I will learn how to say no. I will politely decline unpleasant social obligations whenever possible, especially if they interfere with my writing schedule.

5. I will learn how to say yes. Like most writers, I have a day job. So I don’t have much time. However, I will still allow time for rewarding relationships (friends, family, etc.). I will just be clear about my boundaries.

6. I will stay off the Internet when I’m writing. No more, “I’ll just look this up quickly for research.” If necessary, I will download Internet blocking software or take pen and paper to the park.

7. I will value my work. I will not write for “exposure.” I will write for money. If there are exceptions, they will be exceptions that I can live with, for example if it’s a short story that I’m happy to get off my desk, or I have something to promote.

I will never blog/tweet/Facebook about how hard writing is or how many words I wrote today.

8. I will keep to a schedule. I will write regularly, even when I don’t have a lot of time, for two reasons: (a) so I can actually get some work done; and (b) so that I don’t always feel like I should be writing. If all I have is my lunch hour, that’s fine, because a few weeks of lunch hours will add up to a draft of a short story or a couple of poems. And then when I’m not writing I can be fully present for my kids or friends or significant other.

9. I will strive for graciousness. “Envy is the central fact of American life,” wrote Gore Vidal. But I will not make it the central fact of my life. The best way to avoid the corrosive effects of envy is, counter-intuitively, to accept it: “I am feeling really envious right now, and that’s fine.” I will try to be outwardly gracious and share the truly venomous feelings only with my journal or my best friend or my spouse. I will also remember that it is possible to feel happy for people.

10. I will value myself. I am not worthless because [check whichever applies:] I haven’t yet published. Because I haven’t been paid for a story. Because I don’t have a book. Because my book didn’t go into paperback or it’s not a bestseller or I didn’t sell the movie rights and so on. I will acknowledge and accept my disappointment. But I will try not let it reinforce a sense of worthlessness. I will instead earn my self-worth through self-discipline and sustaining healthy relationships. TC mark

This post originally appeared at GordonHaber.net.


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