Career Advice: Getting Ahead in the Writing World

Sunday, November 10, 2013
A couple years ago, I interviewed Kate White, who, at the time, was editor of Cosmopolitan magazine. It was an interesting interview for a couple reasons. First, I always felt like I had to balance home and work, and she gave me some great tips about finding balance between the two. Second, in our hour-long chat, she convinced me that I needed to be a gutsy girl when it came to career options. I needed to be proactive, be my strongest supporter.

That can be difficult, especially if you don't like to toot your own horn.

I was rereading the notes from our talk the other day and I drew four pieces of advice from it that I have put into practice recently.. Each of these are basic approaches that can boost not only your writing career but your personal life, as well. Think about these hints and how they can help you:

  1. Learn to say 'No.' This is one of the hardest steps I have had to take. I'm a people pleaser, so saying 'no' tends to be difficult. I find that I want to smooth things over or make things better. Yet, there comes a breaking point and sometimes I KNOW I need to tell an editor 'Thanks, but no thanks.' In the last year, I've pushed myself to say 'no' more often, especially to potential projects that are going to suck my time and not offer fair compensation.And guess what? I am not as stressed and I can devote more time to better paying projects.
  2. Learn to negotiate. I hate to negotiate. But, if I don't stand up for me, who will? I ran into a situation requiring negotiation just a month ago. I did my homework and found information from a variety of sources that helped negotiate a higher paycheck than originally anticipated. The editor didn't even balk at what I asked for. Lucky, I know.
  3. Learn. Period. Make every attempt to accelerate your learning curve. I have always wanted to learn French, but seriously, how will that advance my employ ability? Most likely, it won't. For a new gig, I use InDesign. A lot. I know the basics, but I need a class that will give me a bigger range of skills. By taking a class now (and juggling my schedule to do so), I'm showing my new editor that I am willing to take the necessary steps now to ensure I am qualified for the position, rather than waiting until later. And P.S., I can tell my new boss appreciates my efforts.
  4. Learn to plan ahead and look behind in your career. In other words, evaluate or reflect on your growth as a person and writer. Discovering what you've done in the past can help chart a future course. 
While some of these pieces of advice are easier than others to accomplish, I've discovered by being proactive and treating my career seriously, I have a boost of confidence that I had not noticed previously. Maybe it's because I'm more serious about my writing. Maybe I've found balance between personal and career choices.

And maybe, I'm becoming a bit more gutsy.

by LuAnn Schindler. Read more of LuAnn's work at her website.


Briane said...

Like you said, that's good advice not just for writers, but for anyone doing just about anything.

Marcia Peterson said...

These tips are good reminders. Love that you're experiencing a boost of confidence. Go LuAnn!

Margo Dill said...

This is the kick in the butt that I needed. How did you know that? :)

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