I belong to this amazing organization for freelance writers and editors called Freelance Success. It has been instrumental in all of the work I have done for national publications and websites, and at about a hundred bucks a year, my membership over the last decade or so has paid for itself many times over.
Every year, the organization runs a few marketing challenges, where members are divided up into teams to see who can fine the most new work over a specific period of time. There are no prizes but new clients and the money that comes with them. But this year, a lot of us were struggling with how to reboot our careers to be better in sync with the times. Most of us were weened on newspaper and magazine journalism. We moved to websites fairly easily, although blogging doesn’t pay as much as print journalism, which itself hasn’t seen an increase in pay for most writers since the ’80s. Some of us are doing more corporate work, others are looking to break into what may be the most lucrative kind of writing jobs there are going.
So this year, the Powers that Be decided to have a reinvention challenge. Those interested were divided into teams, and each team is assigned reading and tasks that are supposed to help us hone our search for something new into a sharp stick we can use to force the world to notice our genius. This is week two.
We read an interesting article in Forbes that challenges readers to focus more on “why” than “what” when revamping their careers. I told my 11 member team that I’m pretty sure most writers who ask themselves why they write would answer that they do it to be seen, heard, noticed. We are attention hounds. And we like to teach, inform, and opine. I’d bet those reasons resonate with 90 percent of professional writers. Alert me in the comments if I’m wrong.
Our book assignments include Reinventing You: Define your brand, Imagine your future by Dorie Clark and Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0 by Jay Conrad Levinson and David E. Perry. I don’t think the second is really good for my needs, so I’m not going to spend time on that. Reinventing You, though, is a great tool for helping to define your strengths and weaknesses and figuring out how to best present them. I’m only on Chapter 4 so far, so I can’t tell you all its wonders. But it got me thinking about how well self-help books work when it comes to making big changes in our lives.
I remember my mom reading I’m Okay, You’re Okay (Thomas Harris, MD) in the 1970s, and I was a fan of All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten (Robert Fulgham) and When Bad Things Happen to Good People (Harold Kushner) in the 1980s. My first husband was a problem drinker, so I made use of Codependent No More (Melody Beattie), too. But I don’t know if any of those books every changed my life in a way I can clearly see. Aside from I no longer have Husband Numero Uno.
So here’s my question: What self-help books have been life changers for you? If you’ve rebooted your career, what books were helpful? Bonus points if you’re a writer or other creative professional and have a book suggestion that specifically addresses the needs of people like us.