Writing is a lot like being an entrepreneur.
When I started Vermont Shortbread Company in the mid 1990s, everyone had ideas about how I should market, package, distribute my products. There was a constant deluge of unsolicited advice and I wore myself out trying to address every piece of “advice” even when it didn’t resonate with my goals. I was all over the place with my business planning.
I was recently asked by a few to share my top journals that I’m submitting to or to share an essay before publication.
I won’t do it.
My work has been workshopped to death in my trusted circles. And I don’t want random unsolicited opinions on the journals themselves. As a business person, I learned long ago that I can’t and shouldn’t chase every bit of advice I receive if I want to stay sane, focused, and run a successful business.
I’ve learned which bits of feedback to trust and which to ignore. I’ve learned that often people who glibly suggest what you “should” do often have never actually done the thing you want to do. (I’m willing to bet my life’s savings that anyone who has given a vicious review of my TEDx talks has never actually done one themselves!)
As a writer and a savvy business person, I’ve learned to count on a trusted circle of advisors and to filter out the noise about where I “should” submit or how I “could” make a piece better. I’ve got my board of advisors for that.
This lesson only took 3 decades to learn and it has made all the difference in my focus, creative output, and mental health.
It occurs to me that for any goal we may have, not just writing or business, we might do best to assemble a trusted advisory board from whom to solicit feedback and advice.
In a world where personal opinion seems to be the priority for many, sifting through noise becomes a critical survival skill for those who put their work out in the public eye.
Being creative is great. Being creative and strategizing like a business person (if you care about seeing your work out in the world-I realize this is not every creative’s goal) is a superpower.
Photo: Me, circa 2006, selling my Vermont Shortbread Company products in a mall during the holiday season.