Protect Your Muse

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Something worrisome is going on in the freelance world and up until now I’ve held my tongue, not wanting to pour gasoline on an already blazing fire. But these past few weeks I’ve been acutely aware of some extremely negative comments coming from some very respected writers in our community.

No. This group of folks aren’t dissing Filbert Publishing. They’re not even bad mouthing anyone I know.

However, in their zeal to “protect” newbie freelancers from falling for a swindle, a number of companies have begun to paint the broader publishing community with a pretty wide, negative brush.

I’ve watched with increasing wonderment as this “everyone’s trying to rip me off” attitude has spiraled to interesting levels.

So, I’m speaking up.

Truth is, I’ve found more hard working honest publishers than fly-by-nights intent on preying on newbie writers. Generally speaking, the fly-by-nighters are pretty easy to spot. They’re the companies that make you pay to get published. It’s that simple. If a publisher asks for money to publish your work, turn away. Problem solved.

Thing is this entire brouhaha has created an air of negativity that bothers me.

Bottom line? It’s tough to produce beauty in a negative environment. And if you’re the kind of writer who aims to make their corner of the world a little better, you’d do well to be aware of what that negativity may have on your muse. Because, if you allow negativity to take root, before you can say “holy cow!” you can find yourself slipped in a creativity-draining rut that’s pretty tough to get out of.

I know what I’m talking about.

I learned my lesson the hard way when once in a fit of (justified) rage :), I whipped out an article and sent it to my favorite ezine owner, Dan Case at Writing for Dollars.

He immediately shot an e-mail my way saying, “Sorry. I don’t publish negative articles. I know this biz is tough, but I refuse to focus on anything that isn’t uplifting.”

Wow.

After I paused long enough to ponder his words, I realized he’d just changed the course of my career. And I’ve worked to live up to that high example ever since.

And I challenge you to do the same. Because when you do this, magic sparks and your muse thrives.

I’ve also found the attitude in which a freelancer approaches this biz (that would be your mindset) has everything to do with your success.

If you look for negativity, you’ll find it. If you keep your eye out for the magic, you’ll find that as well. Choice is yours.

So, in the fine tradition of “looking on the bright side of life,” I’d like to present an alternative freelance reality:

  1. Not everyone in this business wants to take advantage of freelancers. Yeah, we’ve got a few worms amongst the apples, but they’re easy to spot..

  2. If you live by the mantra that when you submit something to a publisher, “money always flows towards the writer” you’ll spare yourself a lot of grief.

  3. If you feel anger stirring inside, if you start feeling frustration while reading writing advice, chances are you’re reading something that can squelch your muse and leave you fuming for far too long. Get over it, move on, and get writing.

  4. Writing forums are great, but if they interfere with your writing, it’s time to join in the discussion after your writing’s done.

  5. Writing is an adventure. Enjoy it. This is your life. Every day that ticks by is one less day to write. So get to it.

  6. Banish fear. Writers don’t need it. Despite your soft, creative interiors, you must push through the fear and make it to the other side. There, you’ll find incredible beauty.

  7. Finally, if you’ve lost your first love, if writing has become a chore, move heaven and earth to regain your joy. Your message is worth it.

So, these are my thoughts on a lazy Tuesday afternoon. Listen to your emotions. Protect your muse. Then write.

For the story within you will not get released if you don’t write.

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  • Barbara Johnson

    This is a wonderful and very timely post Beth. Thank you, I needed it. These are difficult and negative days for us and I realize I have to do exactly what you wrote, “protect your muse”. I’ve been stopped and stumped for a few weeks. This really helped me. Thanks. Barb

  • Hi Beth,
    You never fail to hit the nail on the head. I, too, have been feeling negative and down hearted lately with all the negative permeating the writing world. Another writing blog I happened upon yesterday was full of warnings about publishers I’ve written for was on the list, along with many others I know to be good employers. Your advice is so timely. It really uplifted me today.
    Thank you so much!
    Jill

  • Hey Barb,

    Thanks for your kind words. Although times may be temporarily rough right now, there is far more to be thankful for.

    And Jill…

    Thanks also for your kind words. It’s amazing how many writers have dedicated their careers to negativity, not realizing they could achieve so much good by shifting their energy to the positive.

    It’s too bad, but not something to dwell on. After all, there is many wonderful things going on at this moment!

    Onward and upward,

    Beth 🙂

  • Hi Beth,
    This article is so true – negativity can not only block you mentally but physically. Since we are free to choose – why would we choose anything but joy? Thanks for once again telling it like it is and giving the muse a pat where she needs it.
    Billie