Thursday, November 2

Listen to your Gut by Kelly James-Enger

Today's guest is Kelly James-Enger, Freelance Journalist/Author/Speaker. Below is a snippet from WRITER'S GEAR, her monthly newsletter which provides advice, encouragment and information for a freelance career. If you like what you read make sure to sign up for this monthly jewel. Enjoy!

Living the Writer’s Life: Listen to your Gut

Several weeks ago, I received an email from a potential client in the Chicago area. He was looking for a writer to handle several projects, including an autobiography of his boss, a very successful, very wealthy real estate developer. I called the potential client, and we spoke briefly. He wanted me to come to his office to meet him and his boss. I debated. The trip is an hour's drive—without traffic—and I already knew I wasn't right for a couple of the projects. My gut said "no." But my greedy little brain said, "very wealthy!" In other words, this dude's got lots of coin to spend on an autobiography—why not spend it on me?
So I agreed, put on my grown-up clothes a couple of days later, and drove up to the northern suburbs. The traffic sucked, but I made the trip in under 90 minutes. I met with both men, and it quickly became apparent that I had wasted my time. Mr. Fabulously Wealthy began sketching out his plans for one of the projects for which he needed a writer. The project entailed an incredible amount of time and work. I listened, took notes, and asked what his budget or pay rate was. He wouldn't answer me directly. Then he explained (as if talking to a four-year-old) that the writer had the "opportunity" to make an incredible amount of money as the project grew in scope. I pressed, only to have him grow angry at my insistence that professional writers like myself aren't going to put their time into a project with the promise of a payoff. We expect to be paid for our work. He waved me off, and I diplomatically suggested that I wouldn't be the right writer for this fantastic "opportunity."
Attention turned to his autobiography. Again, he fobbed off my questions about pay. "The great thing about this book is that the writer will be able to learn about my life, and learn how to sell," he said.
"And the writer will be paid for writing the book," I pointed out. Dead silence from him. Uh huh! Well, thanks for wasting my morning! I wanted to scream, but I politely said I needed to hit the road. I drove home, mentally calculating what I'd spent for this worthless meeting. Four hours' of babysitting. Gas to drive up there. Tolls. Lost time from my real work. I came home in a foul mood, but I was just as angry at myself. My gut had signaled me during my phone conversation. But I overrode it.
What could I have done differently? Asked more questions about the scope of the project, and the budget before I agreed to a meeting. Then I would have discovered that first, that this opportunity was nothing more than an opportunity for me to waste my time and money, and second, that Mr. Fabulously Wealthy had no intention of sharing that wealth with me—even if I worked for it.

Moral of the story? Listen to your gut. It tends to make smarter decisions than your brain does—at least most of the time.

© 2006 Kelly James-Enger.
Permission is granted to circulate this publication by manual forwarding by email to friends as long as the complete text is forwarded and no fee is charged.

Kelly James-Enger
Freelance Journalist/Author/Speaker
BodyWise Consulting
phone/fax 630-795-1288

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