I think it's been 20 years since I've listened to audio cassettes by motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, but I remember this quote of his, in that Southern drawl, as clearly as though I'd just heard it yesterday:
"In order to get what you want, you need to help others get what they want."
At that time, I had pretty much abandoned my writing aspirations and was concentrating all of my efforts on the "practical route" of clawing my way up the corporate ladder. I read and listened to everything I could get my hands on regarding leadership, good management, networking, goal setting, and a host of similar topics, which eventually led me to Ziglar. Zig had a delivery style as cozy as a hand-sewn quilt and as warm as homemade bread, so you felt as though you were sitting on his front porch listening to him while spun tales that incorporated his business philosophies.
I learned so much from him, things I tried to apply on the job. But I didn't actually work with, or for, Zig. In fact, I felt as though I worked with and for people whose motivations and goals I either didn't understand or couldn't agree with, and found it difficult to reconcile Zig's philosophies with my reality. After awhile, the corporate ladder for me turned out to be a slippery slope, one I could never firmly grasp. This turned out fine, as I returned to writing, using my management and corporate experiences to break into publication as a business article writer.
But as I recalled Zig's words recently, I realized that they apply as much or more to writers as they do to those aspiring to management positions. No matter what kind of writer or what kind of writing I applied the quote to, it fit. For example:
Do you want to get published in magazines? Then come up with the kind of article ideas (including titles) that editors crave, ones that would entice readers to pick up their magazine at newsstands.
Do you want to write novels? Write for your readers, not just yourself. Develop characters that readers will remember, create settings they can feel, see, smell and taste, concoct page-turning scenes and plotlines.
Do you want to be a sought after copywriter? Deliver your best work to your clients at all times, adhere to deadlines and make reasonable revisions when asked.
Can you see the pattern here? In order to get to where you want to be as a writer, give editors, readers, agents, publishers and clients what they want. Mr. Ziglar had it right all along. I was simply applying it to the wrong career for a while.
Here's to your writing success.
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