As every writer knows, we ALL need help from time to time. There’s no RIGHT way to ask for help … but there are MULTIPLE wrong ways. Feast your eyes on these 5 super-clangers!
1) Cyberstalk People
I love social media. But I also hate it, because every single day I get cyber-stalked by well-meaning, but let’s just say DESPERATE writers.
I get a plethora of emails, private messages, tags and tweets from writers every day. I try and respond to all of them, but some inevitably slip through the net. Other times, these messages, especially emails, never arrive thanks to cyber gremlins. Shit happens. It is what it is.
Now, I never mind writers SENSIBLY following up on their messages to me. However, if you’re sending me a DELUGE of messages, in a very short timeframe? Then you need to bacdefucup! MORE: 6 Ways To Annoy The Crap Out Of People Online
2) Get Narky
This one is often linked to number 1 on this list. A writer will send a message, tweet or email and perhaps I don’t reply. A second message may then come, in a very narky tone, asking why I haven’t responded!
Sometimes, I barely get time any time at all to respond, either – I remember one writer emailing me at approximately 7am one day. When I hadn’t responded by 3pm (I usually respond to my unsolicited emails daily about 5pm), I was sent a harsh rebuke via a second message. Blimey!
Other times – and this is largely a Facebook issue – a writer will accuse me of ‘ignoring’ them. You see, on the FB private message function, it will note whether a message has been ‘seen’. However, this doesn’t mean a) I’ve ACTUALLY seen it (because sometimes messenger on your phone can say ‘seen’ automatically) and b) I’ve got time to answer at that given moment.
In other words, be fair. No one OWES you help or advice; they’re giving up their time and expertise to respond. Don’t isolate those who will give it by being an arsehole.
3) Being Clueless
You don’t have to know everything, obviously. But it is wise top keep your eyes and ears open and do your own research BEFORE asking someone else for help or advice.
There’s so much online now too about writing, that a lot of the time there are MULTIPLE POVs on the subject you’re curious about. Now, that has its own issues, but it it will be a MUCH more worthwhile exchange if you can have a proper conversation with an expert, instead of saying, ‘Tell me about [whatever]”. MORE: Top 10 Writing Misconceptions
4) Asking Pointless Questions
‘Have you got any writing tips for me?’ has to be the question I get most, believe it or not. My answer is always: ‘YES, JUST A FEW!!!‘ 😉
C’mon guys and gals, you can do better than that!
5) Not keeping to the point
This is how you keep on point when you want someone’s help:
- Introduce yourself
- Say where you saw said person/person’s work
- Why you’re getting in touch
The above works equally well for online interactions and real life meetings I find. In other words, recognise people’s time is at a premium.
Now, I’m not suggesting you never tell anyone in detail about yourself. However, DO try and keep interactions focused on THE OTHER PERSON if you want their help.
You could do the above any number of ways, but the two ‘oldies but goodies’ are a) complimenting them or their work (in a non-icky way) and/or b) offering them something*, either then or in the future sometime (ie. *a coffee; help with social media; your undying devotion/ nymph-like body, etc). IT WORKS! MORE: 13 Ways NOT To Ask For Writing Advice Or Help