If you’re a newbie writer, this post is aimed at YOU. I’ve been working with a couple of very shy writers who are terrified of blogging; they think that they’ll humiliate themselves.
I’m sure they’re not the only writers too scared to hit the Publish button on their blog; hence this article.
These shy bloggers are blissfully unaware that you need to do a lot to gain attention online. Sooner or later they’ll be so annoyed at their low traffic that they’ll do just about anything. They won’t care about embarrassment.
Everyone makes mistakes
There’s little you can do to really humiliate yourself. You may get one-star reviews on Amazon, but so what? You can also unintentionally make a total idiot of yourself in some way. That’s OK. You’re human. Just apologize for your mistake, big or small, and move on.
Over the years, I’ve managed to embarrass myself occasionally. I once faxed a publishing contract to an editor at the wrong publisher; I’ve sent incorrectly-addressed magazine queries and got huffy phone calls in response.
I fully expect to embarrass myself again. Everyone makes mistakes. You’ll find that others will forgive you much faster than you’ll forgive yourself.
Now let’s look at four ways to avoid embarrassing yourself.
1. Be Careful when Tweeting
Twitter can be dangerous. 140 characters is fewer than 30 words, if you assume an average of 5 letters per word. It’s very easy to say things you never meant to say.
See #4: don’t tweet when you’re in a snit, or when you’re tired, or in a hurry.
2. Read Briefs and Contracts Carefully
When someone gives you a brief (project description) for a writing job, make sure you understand it. If there’s no brief — you’re asked to handle a job on the phone, or via text — write out the brief in your own words, and make that the basis of your contract with the client.
It’s vital that you always understand exactly what the client expects of you. It avoids not merely embarrassment, but also, losing money on a job. I once misquoted on a job. I thought it would take me a couple of hours. It took me 14 hours, over a weekend.
To avoid hassles, write out the brief in your own words when you send your client a quote.
Most contracts are short. Publishing contracts, on the other hand, are long. Long or short, read every word of every contract, several times. If you have questions, or aren’t sure of something, ask for clarification.
Occasionally a client will try to sneak something past you in a contract. Cross out the offending clause, and initial the deletion.
Remember, once you’ve signed a contract, you’ve signed it. There’s no way out of it, without major embarrassment.
3. Double-Check Email Addresses
It’s very easy to send an email message to someone other than the person you meant to send it to. Check, before you hit Send.
4. Never, Ever Respond in Anger
People being people, you’ll occasionally get snarky phone calls, email messages, and texts. It’s understandable. Someone’s having a bad day, and you cop the fallout.
Feel free to vent. Write a blistering email message — but don’t send it. Punch a pillow.
Then go to the gym, or for a long walk. Get the adrenalin out of your system.
Then wait, at least 24 hours, if you can.
If you don’t need to respond, don’t. If you do need to respond, be polite, and professional.
I’m not saying you need to be a doormat, and shouldn’t be assertive. I’m saying don’t be aggressive, or defensive.
If you respond to someone in anger, you’ll be embarrassed, sooner or later. Always. (Don’t ask me how I know this…. :-))
So there we have it. Four ways to avoid humiliating yourself. Big tip: don’t worry about it. If it ever happens, you’ll handle it just fine.
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