November 16, 2017
The most annoying drivers are those who act as if they alone belong on the road. They aggressively maneuver through traffic, causing near-misses or accidents. They dangerously whip around corners, through stop signs, and drive in other reckless ways, putting pedestrians at harm. And they angrily hurl snide comments at drivers and pedestrians alike.
Their actions negatively affect other people, compelling some drivers and pedestrians to respond in kind. Other victims do whatever possible to minimize those aggressive drivers’ impact.
Unfortunately, some writers’ actions also negatively affects others, particularly others in publishing. Know these 10 telltale signs of an aggressive writer. More so, avoid them or risk crushing your writing dreams. Aggressive writers:
1. Act like road hogs. Road hogs’ actions stink. There’s no nicer way to describe their foul maneuvers. Similarly, aggressive writers’ behaviors reek. The smell is so offensive editors and publishing reps easily detect it, steering clear of working with those writers when possible. No one wants to be around a piggish wordsmith. So don’t act like one! Have some road, but leave some for those of us who are safely moving forward and making room for new writers.
2. Ignore yield signs. Editors, agents, and other publishing reps often share how they’ve been unpleasantly surprised by writers who attempt to give them manuscripts in the bathroom. It’s funny until it happens to you. Don’t do it. Yield. Know that there are places where others simply are not interested in receiving anything from you. The bathroom is usually one of those. That is, unless you’re handing someone a roll of bathroom tissue – sans your manuscript – upon request.
3. Run stop signs. Aggressive writers think stop signs don’t apply to them. So, they speak longer than the required time for introductions. They share more posts than allowed in social media forums. They send manuscripts with longer word counts than an editor requested. Running a stop sign gets writers noticed, but for all the wrong reasons. Don’t run them. And keep an eye out for newly posted signage.
4. Exceed speed limit. Sometimes magazines, contest sponsors, and publishers graciously open a window of opportunity, noting the only dates they’ll accept submissions. Aggressive writers exceed limits by sending in material sooner than specified. Know that moving too fast will not increase your chances of publishing a manuscript or winning a contest. Rather it may hinder your goals, and cost you money if you’ve submitted a contest fee and can’t get a refund.
5. Rush others’ speed. Aggressive writers erroneously believe other writers should move faster, so they comprise ways to “help”. I’ve made that mistake – but no longer. Why? I’ve learned it’s arrogant to assume I know what’s best for another scribe. And I’ve learned rushing others is not worth losing friends, offending others wordsmiths, or making them question my motives. If you’re in a hurry, safely go around other writers without rushing them for any reason. Be assured they’ll reach the same destination eventually – with or without your help.
6. Slam other “vehicles”. Aggressive writers are petty competitors. To make themselves stand out, they slam other writers and/or the quality of other scribes’ work. They belittle other writers’ genre choices and/or successes. They also pen scathing responses to rejections letters, and bad mouth magazine and book publishers. Don’t be like them. Ever.
7. Scare people. It’s scary watching writers go after goals at break neck speeds, or while squeezing others out of the way. As with their driving counterparts, these aggressive writers exhibit behavior that is difficult to predict or comprehend. Think before you act. You never want to scare someone into reading, publishing, promoting, or supporting your work. But if you’re not above frightening someone, know your behavior will backfire. Every time!
8. Hurt others. Aggressive writers are a menace to others, and may cause irreversible harm. Many in the publishing industry have been banged up by encounters with them. Writers’ reputations have been slammed, or their work maligned. They have been shut out of writing and/or speaking opportunities. Some full-time staffers also have lost publishing jobs because an aggressive writer was deemed too important to be unhappy. Sigh. Check yourself. Don’t hurt others – ever!
9. Dismiss their behavior. Aggressive writers are always victims, never perpetrators – in their minds. They hate correction, often denying any wrongdoing. When their behavior is questioned, they feign ignorance or they attack. They are a wreck! Don’t be like them. Get a grip: 1) own behavior; 2) accept consequences; and, if needed, 3) change traveling companions, steering away from other aggressive writers.
10. Get pulled over. Because aggressive writers dismiss their behavior, they need someone else to forcibly correct it. A senior editor may reach out after a junior staff member is insulted. A publisher may nix a contract because offensive behavior constitutes a legal liability. Or, a social media provider may temporarily or permanently boot them off the platform. All of these well-deserved consequences could delay your journey, sometimes for years.
The road to publication leads to dreams fulfilled. Writers who take it can end up there – eventually. However, we will hinder our journey, make others uncomfortable, or miss a designated turn-off by aggressively pursuing goals. That’s why it’s important for us to know the telltale signs of an aggressive writer.
Need a time out? Head into a rest stop, ceasing contact with others in publishing until you’re fully ready to resume writing and marketing without harming others.
Then stay focused on your designation. Reach it safely, guided by exemplary behavior and well-written prose.
Lisa A. Crayton is an award-winning freelance writer, multi-published author, conference speaker…and more. She loves helping writers, and challenging them to achieve their goals and dreams! Connect with her on Facebook.