Writing and Publishing

Don’t Give Yourself or Your Writing an Escape Clause

When asked about her plans for college, I once heard a high school grad say, “I’m going to study pre-med and see how far I go.” Though she was a capable student, and pre-med was a realistic choice for her, I immediately knew she would never complete her studies. A couple of semesters later she did indeed change her major.

To avoid possible embarrassment if she fell short of her goal, she publically set expectations low. In the end, she met those low expectations. She left herself an out, an escape hatch; when things got tough, she opted out.

I think many writers do the same thing.

  • They say they only write for themselves when they secretly yearn for others to read their words.
  • They say it’s just a hobby, yet they wish to be taken as a serious writer.
  • They say they’re not in it for the money, even though they desire to be paid for their work.
  • They say they’re content to write part-time, working around a full-time job to pay the bills, when what they really want is to write full-time.

We can declare whatever we want to about our writing, but we must be honest with our claims, because we will surely live up to—or down to—whatever we say. Our words are a powerful thing.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

9 replies on “Don’t Give Yourself or Your Writing an Escape Clause”

Been thinking further about these questions. I have never considered my writing a hobby, it’s just something I do. But I do struggle with considering myself a “professional” even though I’ve had numerous articles published and some books. Maybe because I’m not making a living at it. I’m also uncomfortable with the need to put yourself out there and make some noise in order to get attention in this crowded market. That takes me way out of my comfort zone. This is a real struggle for me.

Patricia, I’m honored that you are continuing to think about this post.

The fact that your writing generates income is huge! You are ahead of most writers. And few writers are able to fully support themselves with their writing, so we shouldn’t set a standard that we’re unlikely to reach.

As far as the issue of self-promotion. All I can say is that I feel your pain!

Peter, I think you just happened to hit upon something I’ve been wondering about recently. During my over 35 years of ministry, I dreamed of someday having the luxury of writing full time. Now that I have that luxury, I find that I miss ministry and have been wondering about getting a part time ministry position (Haha – part-time, like ministry is ever part time). I wonder if that is my way to avoid fully committing to writing, my escape plan, or is it God urging me back into ministry?
I expect it will become clearer or time . .. 🙂

What do you think? Please leave a comment!