Monday, April 22, 2019
When You Hit A Bad Day
By W. Terry Whalin
Let's face it head on. Everyone has a bad day. You know what I'm talking about.
When you walk out to your car and see the tire is flat—and naturally you are trying to rush off to some important meeting.
Or your computer crashes in the middle of an important rewrite on an article or book and you lose hours of work because you didn't back it up.
Or you get sick and land in bed. Or someone in your family gets sick. Or a dear friend suddenly dies.
Or a friend or a co-worker promises they will do something—and they don't. So it creates huge amounts of unexpected work for you or a project you were counting on completing didn't happen.
These various possibilities that I just listed are a fraction of what happens to everyone. The unexpected happens to each of us with our writing and publishing lives.
Here's the critical question for you: when you meet one of these difficulties, does it totally derail you so you don't complete what needs to be written. Or do you rise to the challenge and continue forward with your writing?
Something derails writing for a day. Do you shake it off and return to it the next day? Or do you set it aside and say, the time must not be right? There is a time and place to persevere.
Several years ago a number of publications celebrated the storied career of journalist Barbara Walters. At 84, she retired from 17 years on The View. I read an article about Barbara Walters in AARP magazine, which claims to have the world's largest circulation at 24.4 million (more than three times the circulation of Reader's Digest). In the AARP article called What I Know Now: Barbara Walters, she shares the secrets of her success saying, “I think the secret of my success is that I persevered. I didn't give up. I didn't say, 'This is a lousy job, and I'm unhappy, and I'm going to quit.' I went through the tough times, and they were tough. And I was fortunate that I came out the other end.” I admire Barbara Walter's perseverance.
Several years ago my agent friend Steve Laube wrote an article What to do when technology fails? I did feel bad for the author who lost the entire manuscript on a computer the day it was due at the publisher. As a result the book was canceled. Buried in the story was the fact the author had missed the third extension. What happened in the case of the first two extensions? This story wasn't told.
About fifteen years ago when I started working as an editor on the inside of publishing houses, I learned that writers are notoriously late. I've often been the editor who the author calls and tells about their bad day then asks for an extension. Publishers know about bad days so they often build some flexibility into the deadline.
Yet writers should not count on that flexibility or extension. Here's how to distinguish yourself as a writer and make editors love you: turn in your writing when you promise to turn it in—with excellence.
It's one of the elements that I've done over and over with my writing deadlines—met them. I recall writing one section of a book where I stayed at my computer all night in order to meet the deadline. At that time, I had a full-time editorial job and I had taken on a book project to write.
When I didn't come to bed, in the middle of the night my wife came down to my office to see if everything was OK. Everything was fine except I had to meet a deadline and did not make it to bed that particular night. I fired off my deadline material to the editor, cleaned up and went off to my full-time job. Yes, I drank some extra caffeine that day and was tired but I delivered what I promised to the editor and put in a full day at work. I've only done it once so I don't make a regular habit of such actions.
How do you handle bad days? Does it derail you so you don't complete what needs to be written or do you shake it off and continue? Let me know in the comments below.
How do you handle a bad day? Get some ideas from a prolific editor. (ClickToTweet)
W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link). One of his books for writers is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has over 205,000 twitter followers.
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