Monday, July 11, 2011

The Dark Side

The many writer friends I have been privileged to meet are wonderful people. My journey as a writer would not be the same without them. They know about the “voices” I hear at strange hours of the day, know the difference between a query and a proposal, and so often their help and encouragement are just the thing that’s needed to brighten a day of otherwise solitary writing.

However, sometimes we as writers can get into difficult situations with these friends. Maybe we were rejected by an editor we knew personally. Maybe someone we were critique partners with for years seems to have copied something we wrote. Or maybe it’s as simple (or as complicated) as getting or giving a tough critique, or receiving a bad comment on a blog post.

Our initial response might be anger, hurt, defensiveness, etc. However as writers of Christian fiction surely there must be a better way to handle these problems.

I am by no means an expert, but here are a few tips in case you have experienced or are experiencing struggles like these in your writing career.

1) Look To The Great Author:
This may sound lame or too basic, but it’s really not. In our novels we have characters praying and going to the Lord for help. But do we really do this ourselves? For me, my first reaction is to go talk to a friend or family member, eat a bowl of ice cream, or write line after line of cutting dialogue to send to said person (which as an advantage gets used in a future scene!). But how often do we go to the Lord about these things like we should? The Lord gave us the writing talent to begin with, so surely he can help us out of the sticky situations that come with it.

2) Let It Cool:
As writers who are actively seeking to become, or are already published, one of the traits we should all be cultivating is professionalism. Sending an email without thinking it over or praying about it first, or complaining in an online writing loop, can only harm our professional appearance. So before responding rashly, let it cool. You may be glad you did!

3) Respond In Love:
Let’s say we are forced to confront someone. Much as we may cringe at the thought, sometimes it is necessary. But when we do, be careful to do it in love and as nicely as possible. If you are sending an email, ask a trusted family member or friend to read it over first. It might help give you a perspective on how your words are coming across. This can save unnecessary hurtful words and broken friendships occurring as a result. Remember, if at all possible with us, we are to be at peace with all people.

4) Don’t Take It Personally
On-line and email relationships are of the most delicate we will ever maintain. Unless we’re using a webcam, no one knows our true meaning whether we say something with a smile or otherwise. We may not mean anything by something we write to someone, and then they take it wrong. Or there are long silences between emails to our critique partner and we think just because we told them they have a problem with commas, they now despise us. This is usually not the case and worrying about it will only take our focus off the ministry we want our writing to be, and make us miserable. In short, don’t make assumptions and remember the acronym Q-TIP (Quit Taking It Personally)!

Negative incidents need not occur in a group of sincere, dedicated, Christian writers. Your writing connections will become some of the best friends you’ll ever make, and together you can continue to encourage each other both in writing, and in the Lord!

Happy Writing….
Your Turn? Any tips on dealing with difficult situations among writing friends?

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