How Compassion Can Not Only Make You a Better Person But a Better Writer

HeartsInitially, I struggled with this powerhouse of a word.

I was apt, for example, to bark at a customer service representative or get teed off if someone cut me off in traffic. But age and children can soften one’s heart.

I developed compassion. This has helped me be a better daughter, friend, mother, partner and a writer.

How does compassion affect your writing?

This has been key in my ability to raise my writing to the next level.

In the nonfiction arena, it’s given me a new perspective. Instead of how best do I write this piece, it’s made me ask, “How do I help this client sell an idea? How do I help this company reach their target audience? What is the best way for me to deliver this organization’s message?”

It’s a simple change that’s had a profound impact on how I write.

In fiction, it’s put me in the shoes of publishers and editors. They want to create unique, meaningful and creative products. They want to show the world the diamond in the rough piece. They want to be as successful as I do.

When I first started writing, I had a huge chip on my shoulder. I didn’t think about the person reading my material. I thought only about myself-how do I not fail? How do I not sound like I’m pretending? How do I hide my insecurities? As you can imagine, this made for weak and self-conscious pieces.

I think about how I’d feel if I receive half-hearted, rude or thoughtless service. I feel ripped off. I feel gipped. I feel like I never want to be a customer here again.

I then think about the hotel that left me a complimentary bottle of water or the restaurant that remembered me and my order from last time. All that extra attention made a difference in my experience.

It’s the same thing about writing.

Can you put yourself in your client’s shoes and then use your words from this perspective? Can you understand their own insecurities and fear? Can you use that information to provide the service and product that you would be grateful to receive?

If you think this way while working on your next project, your fear and insecurity will melt away. All that will be left is your desire to do your best to fill your client’s greatest needs.

5 Things You Can Stop Doing This Instance

I fell asleep last night and woke up to this blog title.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been working hard at doing less these days and wanted to help you do the same.

You see, there are some things that you need to do to have a successful business. Things like marketing, networking, applying for jobs. But there are tons of other things that are unnecessary and if we were to keep doing them could detract us from our true goals and real intentions.

{photo by iko}

And when you’re your own boss, time is money. So let’s spend more time doing the necessities and less doing these 5:

  1. Follow me and I’ll follow you back. (Sing to the 80’s tune of Digital Underground’s Kiss You Back.)  At the beginning of Twitter, everyone made the error of following every person who followed them. It was a show of courtesy as well as a way to increase your own Twitter followers. But these days, more and more Twitterers are wising up by being selective of who they follow. Instead of a large amount of followers who have nothing to do with your field, industry or even your hobby, it’s all the more important these days to be picky about who you choose to send streams of Twitter feeds these days. Recently, former publisher and editorial director of Writer’s Digest Jane Friedman posted about why she’s not doing it either. Smart cookie! Just think of it as one less thing you have to do.
  2. Sign up for every newsletter available. Sometimes you sign up because you know the person. Other times you sign up because you’re curious about what they have to say or what free e-book they have to offer. But the more things you sign up for, the more time you’ll spend searching through and deleting unsatisfying emails. Emails that take over your inbox and take much of your precious time to go through them.
  3. Plan your blogging schedule. A lot of you may disagree with this one. But I believe and have seen other successful bloggers write on impulse instead of posting every day and a certain time and still have millions of followers. Yes, you may want to plan ahead when you’re going on vacation. But for the other 300 or so days in the year, maybe it’s okay to take it easy and write and post when the fever hits. You’ll spend less time fretting when a busy work day prevents you from posting and you can’t stick to a regular schedule. No more staying up past midnight to get that post done!
  4. Take every online course just because it’s free. There are so many great webinars and online courses out there. And it’s so wonderful when they are free. With that being said, I learned the hard way that not all of them are worth your time. In fact, a few were time zappers, preventing me from doing the things I needed to do to get paid.
  5. Apply for a job or send in a query just to meet your quota. It’s admirable to apply for and send hundreds of query letters a month. And it’s true that the more you send out there, the higher your chances of getting that job or writing assignment you want. But most likely what will happen is that you will get burnt out. You’ll do a haphazard job of sending them in or apply for jobs you really don’t want or assignments you feel unqualified for. Maybe it’s more important to spend quality time working on things that you can do versus just sending shoddy work just to get your numbers out there.

What do you think?

Do you agree or disagree? Anything you would add to the list? Let’s all help each other do less unnecessary things in 2011, and more things important to us and our business.

Quick Tip #4 for Writers

Hope you’ve been enjoying my quick tips for Christmas.

Here is another one.

Hide Your Desperation

Clients can smell fear and desperation miles away.

If you feel anxious and doubtful that you will ever be able to make it as a writer, hide it quick. Your worries will only attract other desperate people.

  • It will make you take jobs that are beneath you.
  • It will make you compromise on your values and ethics.
  • And it will get you that much farther from your dreams.

Do you remember the guy you couldn’t stand in high school? The girl who you couldn’t get away from fast enough?

When you feel desperate, you unknowingly act like them. Good clients will stay away and bad clients will be suddenly and mysteriously attracted to you.

Do you know why?

They figure they can take advantage of your desperation.

There are a few things you can combat your fears and worries about not making the bills next month:

  • Get a part-time job.
  • Focus your energies on marketing and networking with potential clients.
  • Write about your fears and send it to a potential publication. (I did this by the way and it not only temporarily cured my fear by giving me confidence, but it put money in my pocket too.)
  • Be honest about your finances. Take a look at what you’re paying for and see if you can reduce unnecessary spending.

These are a few ways to combat desperation. Have your own? Do share!

Brandi-Ann Uyemura is a freelance writer who offers free initial consultations to help beginning writers get motivated, the disempowered and confused get empowered and back on course and gives writing tips for entrepreneurs. Sign up for freelance writing tips here and contact her at bauyemura at gmail dot com for more info.

Day 2: Christmas Wish List for Writers

Quickie Tip #2: Be Easy

{This is only good for freelance writing and other career-related endeavors of course.}

{photo credit}

Here’s what I recently realized.

I’ve found one of the greatest inventions ever for writers and journalists. HARO.

Doesn’t it sound Star Wars worthy?

It stands for Help A Reporter Out. Basically, it’s a win-win situation where journalists get quotes from leading experts in the industry and leading experts get free PR for their business.

I’ve been using it a lot lately and have gotten several pitches returned from potential experts. Pretty exciting!

But here’s what all that long-winded chatting is finally getting to…

If you want to get your pitch answered, your cover letter read, a new job or an article published, then make it EASY for potential clients.

I got a ton of replies from people with impressive titles attached to their name, but the people I used in my articles were not necessarily the best and brightest of the pack. (Though there were a lot of winners believe me!)

I chose experts who made it the easiest for me. As in, they provided compelling arguments for their statements, detailed information and easily seen contact information.

The other guys who said they would help me, but I’d have to jump through hoops to get to them, got left in the dust.

Get That Job By Making it Easy for Clients to Want to Hire You

I realized this same bit of juicy information would also apply to helping you get a job. Editors and clients are so busy. What they are looking for is a unique story from a qualified writer or someone who can bring energy and experience to their company.

Take advantage of that knowledge and take some time to do what’s necessary to get the job. Make your argument for why they should hire you so irresistible for potential editors and clients that they can’t turn you down.

How to Get the Jobs You Want

1. Explain exactly why (experience, specific examples) you are the best man/woman for the position.

2. Provide proof of every single requirement they listed on their job ad or publication requirement.

3. Be personable. Remember there’s a live person sitting their reading your query/cover letter. While you always want to be professional, it’s also important to be personable and avoiding sound too much like a robot when you’re contacting them.

4. Elaborate what you have to offer through writing samples, stories of what you have already accomplished and how you can use that experience to better the company.

It may seem like a lot of time and work to do so, but in the end, if you make it easy for potential clients to hire you, they won’t be able to reject you. And that’s SO worth it.

Don’t ya think?

Don’t Do This and Other Advice for New Freelancers

DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME (or anywhere else for that matter!)

5 Tips for Freelance Writers on What Not to DO

Don’t settle.

You remember being in your twenties, desperate and single? Or how about a time when you really really wanted something so much so that you felt desperate. That’s kind of how I felt when I first started freelancing. I said, “Sayonara” to my plum job at Apple. With that, I was unemployed and scared silly about what was next. So what’d I do? I applied for every job that came my way and I took any job that came my way too. I’m here to tell you, “Don’t do it!” In the end, I wasted a ton of time and money (a handful of these guys didn’t pay) with jobs that weren’t right for me. But now I know better and now you know better too.

Don’t be a classroom addict. (more…)

The Importance of Fun in Freelancing

A study by the University of Melbourne in April 2009 showed that workers who used the Internet for fun actually were more productive (about 9% more) than those who didn’t.

Surprised?

I wasn’t. Here’s why:

I recently did an experiment for The Joy Diet (week 6 treat week) where I had to indulge in two treats a day. While I admit that a few times during the week “treats” meant something sweet, a sugar coma eventually forced me to find alternative ways to fulfill the condition. Eventually I realized that all work and no play wasn’t a good thing. In fact, it got me further away from my goals.

I think the difficulty with us work at home, freelancing folks is that we can really never do enough.

(more…)

How to Protect Yourself as a Writer

Knightsphoto by Dunechaser

What’s one airline safety guideline we could all listen to as freelance writers? Take care of yourself first, then help others. It’s a rule that needs repeating especially since there are a ton of scams out there. It’s hard enough working as a freelancer, marketing your skills, and defeating your inner demons to write, without having to deal with deadbeat clients.
(more…)

Beginning Writer Resources

Girl with Book

photo by: Tomm (hmm at Rosa tint)

Over the past 3 months I’ve learned more as a freelance writer, than I ever did working in a cubicle. Learning things that I’m passionate about is fun and so I’ve been absorbing everything around me, attempting to learn as much about the freelance writing world as I can.

From months of reading, writing and learning, I’ve compiled a list of resources that has helped me and will hopefully help you, get a head-start on becoming a successful freelance writer. (more…)