Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Serenity Tip: The joy of the bookend

You've got a client to call back, some contract changes to request, maybe even a story you're stuck on.

Call in reinforcements.

That is, make some book-ending calls.

Here's how it works:

1. Gee I'm stressed. I need to finish this story but it's just not coming. It's due tomorrow. What do I do? I need help.

2. "Hey Alicia. I'm just calling to tell you that I'm stressing out about this story. I've got most of the information I need, but I seem to be afraid to start writing because I'm afraid to discover that I don't have enough. I'm afraid this story is going to suck. But I've got to get it done. So I'm going to commit to working on it for the next hour and then I'll call back."

3. Work, work, work--sometimes easily sometime haltingly.

4. "Hey Alicia. I'm just calling back to say I did it! I worked on it for an hour and I have the skeleton down. Now I just need to insert quotes and get one more piece of information. Thanks so much for your support!"

That's it. Just call before and after doing something that's scary for you. It can be calling a potential client. It can be writing. It can be sending the query you've been working on for a while.

If you're on the receiving end of one of these book-ending calls, here are some ways to help:

Ask what she wants.
Does she want you to just listen and be supportive? Maybe she wants you to role-play the conversation with her, with you standing in for the editor/source/client. Whatever it is, ask at the beginning so the call can be of maximum benefit to both of you.

Offer to say what she wants to hear.
When she calls back, praise her for being courageous or diligent or a bad ass freelancer--whatever you want. You can even pretend again to be the editor/source/client and tell her exactly what she wanted to hear. It can be gratifying, even if we know it's all make-believe.

Return the favor.
People like to be helpful. Now you know her process. So hopefully when you're feeling stressed and like you can't possibly make the call or send the email or write another sentence, you know there's someone out there willing to listen to you with gentleness, support and just the right attitude.

Give it a try today.

Photo by Atilla1000.

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