When self-awareness equals income

So, I’m reading a book right now that’s kicking my butt, and if you’re serious about writing, it might just be the butt-kicking you need too.

The book is called Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanny, but it could probably be any book from that particular shelf, and even if it is that book you don’t have to be a woman to learn from it, because artist types tend to suffer from a lot of the same handicaps Stanny’s talking about here.

What are those handicaps?

Under-earning and low expectations. The mythology of the starving artist. The dramatized scorn for money. The difference between playing to win and just scraping by on playing not to lose.

Here’s the thing: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a book or wandered through a bookstore and gotten so discouraged because I KNOW that I’m a better writer than exhibit A or B—and I swear it’s not pride. I know perfectly well that I’m not the next great marvel, either, but I know that I can do good work, I know that I’m disciplined, I know that I can plot and finish and revise a novel, I know I’m motivated.

But, I don’t know anything about business, and I’m scared of risk, and THAT, my friends, is what’s killing my career before it even starts. Not a lack of talent or drive.

And, it ticks me off!

Was reading along in one chapter where Stanny is talking about shying away from risks and self-sabotage, and I was all whiney, like I don’t do that! My problem is that the lucky chances never come my way in the first place!

Big. Fat. Lie.

When I started mentally listing all the writing or literary chances I’ve shied away from over the years, I was floored. I’ve turned down 3 jobs, lost two good writing gigs, and failed to take advantage of numerous networking opportunities.

For no good reason. That’s what kills me. Yes, absolutely, I want this career, but when I look at my actions, I sometimes wonder why they’re telling such a different story. I think each one of us has a cocktail of issues, but mine are definitely an assortment of fears, low self-worth, anxiety, insecurity.

I guess I never realized how profoundly my “private” issues have an impact on my “public” career. It’s sort of the reverse of the workaholic who never has time for his kids. We all need different awakenings. Not, of course, that I’m now aspiring to be a workaholic—nobody should be—but this book is giving me a lot of food for thought as I get serious about my commitment to my own career.

Life is short, you know?

Got to get a whole lot smarter about business, attitude, and beliefs, not just for my writing but for my own quality of life. Self-defeat is the most expensive thing in the world. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford it.


4 thoughts on “When self-awareness equals income

  1. Turn up the risk! Especially since there’s very little downside for you. Long-term, the key is savvy risk taking. You want to take risks that other people think are scary, but that you have learned are not as scary as is generally believed (often because you’ve learned skills for reducing the risk). Get out there and kick some!

  2. Honestly, I think this self-stuff is the only thing really holding you back. (As far as I can tell anyway with my limited knowledge of The Divine’s plans for you etc.) Sounds like fabulous information and a right-on perspective from the author although I have to tell you the title does kind of make me recoil inside. (speaking of personal hang-ups) Just the sort of title the gent above me is always reading though so he was glowing when he read your post. *wink wink*

  3. A: The risk stuff was good for me, because I never really realized that risk is a changing boundary. The idea of living FOREVER in tense or difficult situations never sounded good to me. I like my comfort too much. But, as the book points out, the secret is to, over time, teach yourself to raise your stress threshold a tad so you can exist happily and still be highly productive.

    B: I was a little suspicious of the title at first, too, but the more I read the more applicable I found the book to be—upbeat, realistic, and applicable. The book doesn’t hold out six figures as the definition of success or self-validation. That’s not the point at all. The point is to challenge our preconceived notions of how little our work is worth and how difficult it is to be successful. You could argue all day about what the perfect balance between income and quality of life, but if you plan on having a job, why not make it a good one?

  4. Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanny “might just be the butt-kicking [I] need too.” Judging from your blog writing, I agree, you might be a “better writer than exhibit A or B.” And you have a finished work ready for promotion, if I’m not mistaken.

    Your cocktail of issues are “an assortment of fears, low self-worth, anxiety, insecurity?” You’ve “[g]ot to get a whole lot smarter . . . [s]elf-defeat is the most expensive thing in the world?”

    That’s a smart way of looking at it.

    I’m certainly not an expert on the subject, and you know as much or more about it than I do, but, it seems to me, in today’s marketplace, it’s necessary to sell yourself along with your work through public appearances at bookstores, libraries, and talk shows. So it’s not always the best writer with the most interesting story who gets noticed and rewarded in the marketplace. Dumb luck and devine grace are also important factors.

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