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Freelance Adventures: When An Editor Nicely Rips You To Shreds

If you read my article Getting Started As A Freelance Writer  then you are aware that I’ve been venturing into the world of freelance writing. Since that article was published I’ve been fortunate enough to receive opportunities to write for some pretty cool, very different sites. I thought it would be a good idea to build a portfolio that offers a range of topics thus enabling me to pitch more potential assignments.

With over 1600 Facebook shares and 350 Tweets, my article What She Really Hears When You Say ‘Whatever is Fine With Me’ was very successful. My other article 5 Tools To Help You Kill It On Social Media  was appreciated enough by the site owner that he asked me to contribute again.

In other words, two for two. Things are good. Until I submit my third article draft. See the response below from the editor.

Hey Mike,

This one is going to take some work, I think.  It kind of goes off the rails and you seem to be picking a fight with or daring the reader to challenge you. Your point is kind of getting lost in some of the story elements.It’s not as organized or as cohesive as I think it could be.
I think your major point is that husbands say no because they are approached with what not to do rather than the rationale behind the request.  You’re trying to telling women: if you want us to listen, you need to do more than tell us what not to do. You’re trying to explain, I think, that if women want their husbands to partner with them, they have to approach men a different way.
I think you have a new idea here and I think it could work but I think you have to go back to the drawing board on this one.
I am open to a second stab at it if you’re interested in trying.
First off, it is important to note that I’m okay with this. I’ve mentioned before in previous posts that I know how to endure negative reviews or comments. In addition, the email above is very constructive. However, there are valuable lessons here for myself and my fellow writer.
  1. Articles are subjective. Some will love them, some will hate them, and most just won’t care about them. That comes with the territory.
  2. If I’m going to consider myself a writer, I must be willing to accept the possibility that not all of my work is going to be high quality (at least on the first try).
  3. Freelance writing is a numbers game. Assume you’ll be rejected. Accept it and keep writing.

To close, writing is a roller coaster ride. The high that can be felt when your ebooks sell like crazy or your article is shared all over Facebook is well worth all the lows, just like the email above.

Keep your nose to the grindstone and your pen to the paper.

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My 4AM Writing Experiment

In the post You DO NOT Have to Write Everyday to Be A Writer I stated that writers should avoid pressuring themselves to write everyday. Moreover, it seems every where we look there is one ‘expert’ after another telling us that in order to be a successful writer then we should be writing every day.

To that I say bologna. I’m a writer, but I’m a father and husband first, which means I’m not going to pressure myself to write every day if it causes me to begin sacrificing valuable time with my family.

The problem though is determining when we can write, particularly if we have little kids (mine are almost 2 and 4 years old).

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Enter my 4AM Experiment.

I decided to try waking up each day during the previous week at 4AM. I would write for 45 minutes to an hour then do a 7 minute circuit work out routine. The results:

Monday – Success

Tuesday – Fail

Wednesday – Fail

Thursday – Success

Friday – No way jose (Fail)!

Overall, I’m happy with it enough to try it again this week. It isn’t easy, but once I’m out of bed and writing I end up feeling amazing all day because I’m so proud of what I did.

The only drawback is, at least initially, I’m so exhausted that it takes a good five to ten minutes to get my brain functioning adequately enough to produce decent content. However, I will admit that when I was working on my book, once I got past that 10 minutes I flew. More specifically, in a span of 45 minutes I produced over 1200 words.

I read it later on that evening just to assess the level of quality and it was pretty good. Conversely, my Thursday writing was an article that I was sending to an editor for my freelance pursuits. I was extremely happy with it.

The only problem was my editor tore it apart and asked me to “take another swing at it” which is code for send me something else that isn’t awful.

The lesson I learned here is that I’m going to use my 4AM wake ups for my own book development. I’m hiring the editors as opposed to the editors hiring me so it makes a bit more sense to allocate my time this way.

The lesson I’d like you to take from this post can be learned by asking yourself a question and honestly answering it:

How can you create more opportunities to write?

I’m not suggesting you write every day, but it doesn’t hurt to reanalyze your schedule every once and awhile to see if there are any new opportunities to squeeze out a bit more time for writing.

It may require some sacrifice but if it gets you closer to finishing that book you’ve been working on for what feels like forever then it’ll be worth it.

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Happy writing!

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The Five Stages of Recieving Negative Reviews

“Needs lots of editing. Points made obvious and superficial. Great book for late teens and early 20s. Lacks sophistication for older crowd.”

This was a review that a reader left me about my book  The Persistence Formula. I’m not going to lie, it hurt. I put a ton of time and thought into that book and it is beyond frustrating that a person can rip it apart so easily.

What makes it worse is that this reviewer is essentially saying that I lack sophistication.  However, I can proudly say that I’m officially not worried about it anymore because I have endured the five stages of receiving a negative review.twitter-152681_1280

Stage 1: Nausea – its as if the words form a fist and punch you directly in the stomach. You read it a couple of times and each time you feel worse. At that point you create a distance from the you and your screen.

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Stage 2: Failure – after you come to terms with reality and the nausea subsides (temporarily depending on the severity) then you can’t help but feel like a failure. You begin to question why you even bother writing. You wonder why you think you’re even qualified to try and write anything for anybody.

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Stage 3: Anger – you become overwhelmed with all that you want to do to avenge such negativity. You want to reply with a balance of defending yourself and verbally assaulting the reviewer. It should be pointed out that each of these three stages toggle back and forth between one another until you can come to terms with the fact that negative reviews are a part of writing.

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Stage 4: Acceptance – some times it takes reaching out to your writing groups or reading negative reviews of famous authors, but eventually you get to a point where you don’t mind the review. You don’t like it but you don’t mind it. You accept it.

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Stage 5: Badge of Honor – this stage doesn’t happen every time for me but every now and again I’ll read a negative review about one of my publications and feel a sense of pride. I get to a point that I’m proud of the fact that I strive to spread my message despite that vulnerability that comes with it.

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Stage 6: Learning – again this doesn’t always occur for me but once I come to terms with the review and experience stage five I will reach point where I’m ready to read the review objectively. Occasionally, the reviews will be helpful. Consider the review above. It does offer some constructive advice. For example the review began by stating that it required more editing. Its funny because when I wrote that book I hired a new editor and didn’t thoroughly review his work. As a result I hired a different editor to revamp the book.

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Stage 7: Forgotten – you eventually forget about the review. The review that took me through the previous six stages fades away into nothingness. The reality is, as much as it can hurt to read that somebody thinks that you work lacks quality, you still have work to do. To focus too much time and energy on something you can’t control is a waste of time and certainly will not help you produce more quality work.

If you’re reading this and your thinking to yourself that the stages above are not at all relatable to you then I’ll ask you to consider this request. Regardless of your stages I beg you to be sure that it doesn’t stall your writing efforts. Do not let the negativity of a reader dictate whether or not you continue writing.

Be discouraged, be sad, be angry, be whatever you want to be but just be sure to keep writing. As I stated earlier, there is a great vulnerability that writers are exposed to when they publish their work. This is part of what makes writing so great, because it makes it slightly risky. Once you publish something you are the mercy of your audience. It is scary but exhilarating and any negative review that comes your way should simply serve as a reminder that you are a human putting yourself out there to help or entertain as many people as you possibly can.

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5 Pandora Stations to Get Your Word Count Up

The good news is my freelance portfolio development phase is going very smoothly. I’ll have a post published on The Good Men Project some time next week, I have a post currently live at 110marketing.com, and I’ve been asked to write two more for 110marketing.com. If you read my last post titled Getting Started As A Freelance Writer then I’m sure you noticed that I was going to try and develop my portfolio so I can eventually start pitching for paying gigs. My goal is a total of five articles before I begin the pitching process.

The problem is, due to these articles, I don’t have a ton of time to focus on this week’s post. Therefore, I’ll offer a nice, short and simple list of 5 Pandora stations that I believe are great background music to keep your creativity and word count up.

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Ratatat Radio – with songs like “Drugs” and “Phantom Pt. II” this Pandora station offers eclectic beats that are one step away from dance music. It offers the kind of music that causes you to sway side to side to the beat but enables you to stay on track.

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Parov Stellar Radio – blues/swing meets nightclub pop. A bit fast than Ratatat, if you’re in need of boosting your word count and still keeping things fun this station is perfect.

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Yo-Yo Ma Radio – completely different from the first two on the list, this station offers relaxing classical music which is helpful if you’re feeling overwhelmed. The music offers a slowed down set of strings that helps a writer take a breath and get the outline figured out. I recommend this station if you’re struggling to develop your main take away points.

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Schubert A La Mode Radio – this one is either hit or miss. Either you love it or you hate it. It offers a lighter form of dub step.  This station is great if you need a kick in the you know what. “Ghosts N Stuff” by Deadmau5 was the first song that played when I tuned into this station while writing this. If I had to guess, I’d say I’m writing at about 1500 words per hour.

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The Vitamin String Quartet Radio – if the Yo-Yo Ma station and the Today’s Hits station had a baby this would be it. The Vitamin String Quartet will cover songs like Lady Gaga’s Just Dance while the station also offers a duet called 2Cellos who cover Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal and Rihanna’s We Found Love.

Hopefully these stations help you maximize your efficiency while writing. If not, please keep looking for music. Once you find the music that keeps your fingers typing, you’ll be amazed what and how quickly you can produce.