In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d take today’s post in a frightful direction. I started thinking about what the really scary parts of my job are as a writer. Sure, it can be tedious and boring at times, but there are parts of the job that are truly horrific. Here they are in no particular order…
The masked client.
As professional writers, we come across clients of all shapes, sizes and needs. We sit down with the client we see on the outside and take notes about what he or she thinks the needs are. After a few good meetings with the client we think we’re working with, we might feel pretty good about first drafts. But sometimes, things take a terrifying turn when suddenly the mask comes off! The client we think we were working with is now someone completely different. So much so, that you think, “Who was that client that was in here before? This one is nothing like that one.” Need changes. Direction changes. Sometimes, even demeanor changes. Personally, you want to hide your eyes and run away, but as the writer you’re forced to face your fear and try to dig up what this new client wants. It’s scary, but it’s real. And, the best way to deal with it is head on.
The bloody draft.
I remember my first professional writing task. When I left for lunch, I was confident and feeling good. When I came back from lunch and found my draft that had been red-penned do death and was bleeding all over, I wanted to cry. It happens to all of us, and it can be a confidence killer, but it’s part of the job. Editors, bosses, co-authors, it doesn’t matter. You must work through the changes and suggestions and chalk it up to improved content.
The blank page.
There may not be too many things more terrifying than a blank page if you’re just not ready to write yet, but you know that #4 is chasing behind you. I was struggling with a blank page recently, and I wish I could say there was an easy way to tackle it. But, I think it’s just forcing yourself to go in there, beat it down with some of your mediocre ideas, and hope you come out the victor. I know that blank page is pretty damn powerful, but as writers we have some textual weapons of our own. Unleash everything you’ve got on that blank page and show it who’s boss. Blank page, you’re not the boss of me. I’m not scared of you.
The looming deadline.
Yeah, these are pretty scary. They lurk back there in the shadows. Creeping closer and closer with every minute, day and week. Just like in the horror movies, you only have to be able to outrun the slowest member of your team. So, get that head start. I know it’s tough, but you want to come out a survivor here, right? It’s worth saving your own head by completing your portion of the content and handing it off to the next person. Stop living in fear of the deadline. Calendars. Little notes to yourself. Phone reminders. Set in place whatever motivators you need and finish that writing.
The phantom project manager.
Phantom project managers are the ones that only haunt you around deadline time. Great project managers are present throughout the project. Checking in. Making themselves part of communications. Documenting process. Those ghostly managers can make large projects a nightmare. It’s okay to have that frightening conversation with your project manager about wanting additional participation or oversight. You can always wrap it up in wanting to make sure the client gets what he or she is expecting. It’s just quality control.
Most of the time our worst fears just need confronting. You can do it. Muster up the courage and stare down that blank page. Or, attack those bloody drafts. You are the Batman of writing. You don’t need super powers, you just need mad tools and lots of confidence. Overcome those fears and reward yourself with some treats. Happy Halloween!