On Writing: From Dependence to Interdependence

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

I don’t like to take library books out-of-town; I worry that I’ll lose them or more specifically, watch them wash away with the tide when I fall asleep. So before a trip, I will troop down into my home’s creepy catacombs, otherwise known as The Basement, and look around the bookcases for a good read. That’s how I came across Stephen R. Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

This how-to effect-personal-change book has been around for a while; I suspect it may have been required reading in one of Youngest Junior Hall’s college business courses. But the more I read, the more I could see application in my writer’s life.

Before Covey gets to the seven habits, he discusses the growth from dependence to independence to interdependence. Dependence begins with the “you”, as in you take care of me; independence moves on to “I”, as in I am responsible or I can take care of it. And lastly, there is the “we” of interdependence: working together, we can achieve the greatest success.

I think most writers would assume independence is the ideal paradigm for this profession, but I think interdependence might be a better goal. But first, I think a writer might need to know where they stand. So here are a few questions that came to me but you might think of others. Ask and answer honestly to see where you stand.

You May Be A Dependent Writer If…

Do I ask for help on every step in the process and wait for advice before writing anything?
Do I make every revision suggestion even when I don’t agree with the feedback?
Am I secretly relieved when a critique partner or editor just does the rewrites for me?
Do I blame friends, critique partners, or editors when a project fails?
Do I need constant validation to keep me going when I face failures?

You May Be An Independent Writer If…

Do I work because I’m driven to write but occasionally resent the demands I’ve put on myself?
Do I weigh feedback judiciously but often forge ahead because there’s no time to wait for critique?
Am I annoyed or even insulted if a writing partner or editor changes my words?
Do I recognize my part when there’s a problem in my writing?
Do I feel as if I would succeed on my own, though I appreciate my writing tribe?

You May Be An Interdependent Writer If…

Do I enjoy writing most of the time and have a clear idea of what success means to me?
Do I consider any feedback, knowing that all individuals have their strengths in critique?
Do I give credit to those who’ve helped me along the way, either publicly or privately?
Do I recognize that my success is a collaborative process, from the writing to the selling to the marketing?
Do I feel as if I wouldn’t be where I am now without the talents and skills of other people?

I’d like to think that I’m that Interdependent Writer but I know I have a little work to do before I get there. And I’m thinking that maybe one of those seven habits might help me, so it’s back to Stephen R. Covey’s book for me—which, thank goodness, I’ve managed to keep away from the waves!

(And how about you? What do you think about dependence, independence, and interdependence as it pertains to writing? Agree or disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts!)

~Cathy C. Hall


Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--Your reading made ME reflect. I think (I hope) I'm more of an interdependent writer because I have a couple of writing circles I benefit (greatly) from and I know without a doubt that I'd be an unpublished author without the help of my writing friends.

I hope your trip (the one that sent you down into your basement most recently) was relaxing and fun.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Yep, I know I've done the work, Sioux, but I also know I've had A LOT of helping hands along the way!

Um...I'm still sort of on that trip. :-) I'm just now getting to the relaxing part. Ahhh.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

I did recognize a little of myself in the independent questions, but mostly I ranked interdependent which, frankly, was a relief. At least I'm doing something right in a career where I've made a lot of wrong turns. *sigh*

Tina Cho said...

I enjoyed reading that book in college. Great job applying it to writing! I see myself as interdependent :)

Cathy C. Hall said...

Well, Lisa, it's a process. (In other words, yep, been there, done that, too. :-) )

Tina, it's been an interesting read, for sure!

Renee Roberson said...

This is so interesting, Cathy! My husband is a big fan of Covey so I'll have to share this with him and let him know it can relate to writers, too! I see myself as mostly an independent writer who occasionally overlaps into interdependent. While I don't take ALL feedback to heart, I feel like I do recognize it when it is done in a constructive way. I know for sure I wouldn't be where I am without the guidance, mentoring and encouragment of other writers!

Linda O'Connell said...

I've always been a bit too independent, but consider my writer self to be interdependent. I believe in returning favors and passing it on. Greta observation, Cathy.

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