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Asking for Help – A Success Secret for Freelance Writers

asking for helpI don’t know about you, but I’m not always comfortable asking for help. Although I’ve gotten better at it, there’s something in me that still thinks I ought to do it alone, or that I ought to already know how to do whatever it is. I don’t know where I got this idea – sometimes I think it just pervades our society.

I was reminded of this when three of us got together to start a Mastermind group. I’m the only writer – so far we have one editor/singer and one safety engineer.

I found myself telling the story of how I quit going after ghostwriting books. A contract I accepted in spite of intuition telling me I shouldn’t ended suddenly and rather nastily for no apparent reason. I realized that had I asked someone for advice with the initial contract they would have gently but firmly reminded me that I’m always telling writers and others to honor their intuition.

My hunch is I would have woken up and passed on the job, but even if I hadn’t, if I’d had a group of folks who I knew were supporting me like a Mastermind group I probably would have told them how afraid I was of the sudden withdrawal of the income when the contract ended so abruptly. They would have helped me remember that any one client is not the ultimate source of my income.  Instead of letting myself be frightened off a writing skill I have and that generally pays well I would have, oh, I don’t know, adjusted my marketing, taken another look at how I’m writing contracts, and certainly looked more closely at how I qualify clients.

Of course, I wasn’t without friends at that point but you know what? I never asked for the kind of help I needed.

How asking for help helps

While at first glance it may seem that asking for help helps because you get an answer to a problem, that’s only part of what happens. Often you’ll discover you’re not the only one who has experienced whatever when the person who you ask says something like “Oh, gee. I know just what you’re talking about – I used to be so confused about that,” or “I remember when I did something just like that…”

This is a boon because you again learn you’re not alone. You’re not the only one who isn’t sure how to use a serial comma, or build a website or market yourself as well as your writing.  When we open up a bit to others we trust we generally discover how much alike we all are. For writers who often work in isolation this is a wonderful realization.

Who asking for help helps

The obvious answer is the person who is asking for help and getting it is the one who is helped. That’s certainly true.

But I submit that the you ask for help also benefits. I know when I’m asked about something I know I feel a bit warm and fuzzy because my expertise is being acknowledged and who doesn’t like to be acknowledged? Even if I don’t know the answer, I will work pretty hard to help the asker find the answer – which means I also benefit from giving of my time and energy, and, when we find the answer, I also learn.

In short, both people gain when you ask for help – and if you ask in a forum or during a meeting even more people benefit.

Tell us a story about a time you asked for help.

Write well and often,


{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Great article and very relevant subject! I ask for help all the time… However, I realised that I have changed my questions from a “I want help” type of question to “what is your opinion about …” I have found that most people loves to tell their opinion about stuff you show them. The question often leads to a discussion and in that discussion I ask all my questions. It is a very powerful way to engage with people!
    Jakob Boman recently posted..Liste over fitnesscentre i KøbenhavnMy Profile

    • Jakob, how true that we all love our own opinions… I’ll give this a try.

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