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    This Little Known Trick Will Boost Your Writing Career

    boost your writing career - shh!

    Do you want to boost your writing career?

    As writers, we voice our opinions, discuss options, interview sources, ask questions, negotiate with editors and clients, and kvetch about assignments with our writer friends.

    For what most people call a solitary profession, writing sure involves a lot of talking.

    But there are times when silence is the best thing for your career. Here are some examples.

    1. The Interview Silence

    I recently became a wellness coach and personal trainer. Our natural tendency is to formulate what we’re going to say next while the other person is talking so we can jump right in when they’re finished.

    But coaches need to listen deeply to their clients, which means there will be a dreaded silence when the client is done speaking where the coach is thinking about how to respond.

    With my last few clients, I decided to fight my fear of silence and let it happen. I listened mindfully to my clients and tried to restrain my impulse to swoop in as soon as they finished speaking. It felt a bit unnatural, but my clients gave glowing feedback on my listening skills and coaching manner.

    I decided to try the same tactic with my next phone interview for an article I was working on for a custom publisher. Instead of being at the ready with my next question, I thought about what the source said and then based my next question on that. We had a delightful conversation, and I learned more and got better information than I would have if I had peppered the source with question after question.

    Try it: The next time you have an interview, prepare a few ice-breaker questions and list the questions you absolutely have to ask, but let the conversation be your guide. Listen intently to your source — no multitasking — and take a few seconds when the source is done speaking to formulate your next question.

    2. The Community Silence

    We writers are an opinionated lot, and nowhere is this more evident than on online writing forums. But sometimes it makes sense to be silent, leave the arguments to others, and spend your time on building your writing career.

    Writers who know me only online often comment on how nice I seem. (Notice how I said “seem”!) That’s because I try not to get caught up in flame wars, opinion flinging, and judging. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying I don’t think these thoughts. I do, and sometimes they turn into hopefully illuminating posts on the Renegade Writer blog. But I prefer to save most of the actual complaining and gossiping for a couple of my best writer friends — offline.

    Every once in awhile I find myself constructing arguments in my head to something someone said online, and then I catch myself and realize that just because I had a thought doesn’t mean I need to make it public.

    The same can be said for social media. Whenever my toddler says something über- brilliant or I get a plum writing assignment, my first reaction is often, “I have to put this on Facebook!” But then I started wondering: Why am I so concerned with what 600 acquaintances (most of my FB friends I don’t know in real life) think of my son or my career? I then consider how, when I go onto Facebook to post one comment, I often get sucked into reading all the updates. So I remain silent and do something else instead.

    Try it: The next time you’re tempted to jump into an argument online or share every witty thought with the social media world, try to stay silent for a while.
    The urge will pass, and you’ll have spent your time on tasks that actually move you towards your career goals.

    3. The Negotiating Silence

    Kelly James-Enger and Carol Tice are both proponents of silence while negotiating with clients and editors.

    Here’s how it works: An editor says, “We can pay you 20 cents per word.” Your first inclination is to jump in and ask for more, but instead you stay silent for a few seconds. This creates tension without being aggressive, and sometimes the editor comes back to offer more without your even saying anything. (Ask Carol how this happened to her!)

    But if he doesn’t, the silent pause is your chance to determine how much you want to make and how you’re going to ask for it. If you fear the silence, you may walk right into a contract that doesn’t work for you.

    Try it: The next time a client has you on the phone and is offering an unacceptable deal, resist the urge to jump in with a better deal and wait a few seconds
    instead. If the client doesn’t break the silence, you can still use that time to figure out what you really want from the deal.

    About the author

      Linda Formichelli

      Linda Formichelli is the author of The Renegade WriterShe has written for more than 130 magazines and is the co-author of The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success. She is also the author ofHow to Do It All: The Revolutionary Plan to Create a Full, Meaningful Life - While Only Occasionally Wanting to Poke Your Eyes Out With a Sharpie.

    • On No. 2 The Community Silence
      This is great to read as most of this is what I have been thinking recently…we don;t have to ‘tell all our thoughts’…also ‘switching off’ from thqat which becoimes a habit rather than a necessity has proved to be a real ‘time’ exercise in that we can manage our time better as authors, writers, songwriters, etc. if we just ‘read and digest’ without always having to give an opinion..I only give it where I am inspired/feel strongly to write about a band etc…sometimes I don;t as it was not inspired or necessary and others do it as well..I now just ‘go with the flow of life and inspiration; which means I either do or don;t…and I am cathing up with learning and managing my time through ‘being silent’ in many cases which don;t require my input..this is good to read today as I have had my precious time wasted by a decorator who talked over an hour before commencing…think of all the work which could have been done and also my time which is precious at this moment in time was also partly wasted…great decisions come out of ‘silence’ and I can see now that most of mine do too so I totally agree with this paragraph here…thanks for making my day!

    • Kristen B. says:

      I don’t have professional writing career since I write for freelancing purposes. But I agree that silence could boost writing because it helps writers to focus on their priorities without noise to distract them. Few ice-breaker questions seems helpful on the interview, which helps relaxing the guest. Anyway, thanks for sharing some insights.

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    • Kathleen says:

      Several years ago a friend of mine, who happened to be a Human Resource Manger for a local company, told me that interviewers love the silent moments. People tend to want to fill that silence with information that may help – or hinder – the interview. I remembered this tip every time I went on a job interview, and I always got the job. I simply kept quiet during those awkward moments.

      So yes, silence is golden. You are allowed the precious moment to ponder what was said and decide how to react. And, if I may add, so is retention of the information provided. This allows you to aks appropriate questions.

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    • Free Sky says:

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    • Theresa says:

      Loved this article. Great information for writers, yes, but great for everyone else too. How many ways can we use the powerful tool of silence in our lives?

      Funny story: I had an immediate impulse to share this on Facebook. Then I was going to comment about it, telling my friends how I feel about this article. Then I realized I was screaming to them that they should check out this article about the power of silence. So I deleted my comment and let the shared link speak for itself.

      • Wait, wait, I take it back…you should definitely scream out about this post on Facebook! 🙂 Seriously, I’m glad the post resonated with you!

    • Great Post Linda, some inspirational tips there..thanks for the words..

    • I love this. I am a huge believer in silence – not that I always manage to succeed! This was a very timely reminder of the wonderful thing silence is. Also, to me, it is showing respect – in conversation, really listening and not thinking ahead to what you are going to say, and in a professional setting, it is respecting that person enough to go away and think about their offer and not just immediately dismissing it.
      I, too, find that silence is an amazing tool in so many aspects of life and can often be extremely powerful.
      Great post!

      • Thanks, Susannah! Great point about showing respect through silence. It’s so easy to not listen when people speak and instead be formulating your reply, but it does show a lack of respect.

    • This was a great post, thank you! And all very timely for me right now. I needed to hear all 3 tips.

      I might also add a 4th: The Inner Silence. If we don’t take the time to unplug and stare off into space (or close our eyes and look inward), we won’t have enough room for inspiration and creativity to take hold — two things we need to stave off mediocre work.

      • What a great insight! I get my best ideas when I’m walking on the local nature trail, relaxing before bed, or taking a bath.

    • Excellent article! Thank you for these very important tips/reminders.

    • Yvonne V. says:

      Love Tip #2 about Community Silence, especially in these times of immediate updates. Thanks for the article.

      • Thank you! And I have to admit, every once in awhile I just HAVE to tell the world what my awesome toddler said. But I’ve really stopped having the urge to share every cute thing he says.

    • Fiona says:

      I learned about the importance of silence in negotiating when I took a fundraising workshop many years ago. Recently I had the opportunity to put it into practice. I was being interviewed for a writing job that was much bigger than anything else I’ve done for hire to date. They asked my rate so I stated a price and then stayed silent, even thought a voice inside was telling my I should explain or justify it. Long story short – I’m now in my third month of writing for the client at the rate I stated. Silence pays off.

    • I completely agree with Tip 1. When I conduct radio interviews with musicians, I have a list of things I’d like to talk about but I don’t limit myself by the list.

      I let the interview unfold like a conversation. I find that it makes for a much better interview. It also takes us to some unexpected topics of discussion. This keeps the interviews fresh and exciting.

      Tip 2 is a great thing to mind so as not to get distracted from accomplishing whatever task needs to be done on the computer that day.

      Great tips! Thanks!

      • Thanks for your comment! It’s interesting that the same principle holds true for radio interviews.

    • Thanks for the mention!

      Nature really does abhor a vacuum. If you leave one, the other party will fill it with their own words.

      One of my favorite silences is to tell a prospect you’ll think about it and tell them tomorrow. I like to call it the “Come back tomorrow, Indiana Jones” strategy. Now you’ve got some REAL time to think…and you’ve let a prospective client know you’re not desperate. Really strengthens your hand.


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