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The writer’s dependency…can we cut the ties that bind us?

Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another – Madonna

And here we are, eh? The freelancing community has a knack for getting tied up in knots, literally, in our dependency upon others. The strings that move our fingers over our keyboards, our deposits into the bank, the corners of our mouths up and down – they all lead to our clients. And the economy and the market and…you get the picture.

Writers depend on publishers, printers, readers, reviewers…did I mention publishers? I know, I know –  this is all changing. We have blogs, we have self-publishing, we have the Kindle. But still – is it really true? Can we be independent? Can our pleasure be found through our own permission?

It makes me have to ask the most basic question. Can you be a writer without readers? Yes, but you might just starve. I’d venture to say that we do need something. We need people.

Are we poor?

I can list many ways that we are rich, aka, independent:

  • We set our own hours
  • We choose our niche
  • We handpick our clients
  • We set our own fees
  • We write our own blogs
  • We write about what we want to write about
  • We build great writer communities

But back to the question, ‘are we poor?’ I’m thinking this isn’t an either/or situation. It’s more like an every other minute, hour or day situation. Right? I mean, how often does your reply change? Because the above riches are still dependent on other people.

So what’s the answer?

If you’re attached to people that say no, people that don’t have a lot of money, people that don’t share your vision, people that think there’s only one way, people that are insecure, people that don’t challenge themselves or you – then, yep! You’ll be poor.

The answer, then, is to surround ourselves with the right people. The people with the energy, the insight, the capacity to take risks, that are secure enough to shout about you from their own rooftops, the people that want success for all – and are brilliant enough to see that your success is actually their success. The people who love life…and can’t wait for what’s next.

Find these people. If we can’t cut the ties that bind us – because our writing needs to be read – then take them and fasten yourself to objects that are moving FORWARD and UP. Just like you.

Image credit: Hollywood Celebrity Pictures

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Sean Lyden says:


    You make a good point with this post. The bottom line: I would argue that the title “independent writer” is a misnomer, and instead it would be more accurate to say we’re “interdependent writers.” While we are free to set our own schedules, plan our future, and charge what we think we deserve, we are interdependent on our prospects and clients continuing to say YES to do business with us (and paying us on time!). The customer is our paycheck. However, we do possess the power to choose the RIGHT prospects and clients. When we exercise this power, we are truly free. When we abdicate it and take on clients who don’t respect us or appreciate the value we offer because “I need the business right now,” at that point we feel ensnared. We get caught in a negative cycle that erodes our enthusiasm, confidence, and eventually our bank account balances.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Sean! YES!!! What a great comment. Interdependent is a perfect word. Like I said, there isn’t one answer – it changes, it’s situational. Whether any of this is good or bad is totally dependent (ha!) on attitude and outlook.

  • Andi says:

    And when you can’t surround yourself with good people, because let’s face it, it is not always possible, then envelope yourself in good thoughts, good practices, self-love and good books. Oh and I dog, you cannot be unhappy around a slobbering dog :-) Otherwise, I agree. I am of the philosophy that I would rather have quality over quantity and quite frankly I don’t have the time or inclination to be around negative people. That is not to say that people have their negative moments, everyone is human, but to be constantly surrounded by negativity will, as you so aptly wrote you will become negative, unhappy as well.

  • Writing is communication, and communication is at least an implied two-way street which requires readers, which is why writers get so frustrated when they aren’t published. And when they have crappy clients. Love, love, love your advice to cast off the shackles and stick with the folks on the move.

  • Marjory says:

    Love this blog post. Brilliant! Cutting the lies that bind us, we are free to shine brightly and attract those kindred souls who feel the same pull towards expansion.
    Thank you Julie!

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