Thursday, October 20, 2011
6 Things Every Professional Writer Can Learn From Dr. Phil...
Millions of Americans know him as the go-to guru for advice on love and relationships.
Others see him as the sage psychologist that pens best-selling self- help books on personal development, and Oprah‘s legal advisor.
Add one more title to his impressive resume: writing mentor.
That’s right. Though this may not be a role he professionally intended to assume, it’s one that I have identified and embraced in my creative career. And you should too.
As a faithful viewer of his show for many years, I’ve not only been entertained and enlightened by his no-nonsense approach to his guests‘ plaguing problems, I’ve also gleaned many lessons on how to be a more strategic, introspective, profitable writer as well.
Here are a few that will remedy your writing ills and provide for a more successful, (saner) career.
1. Dr. Phil is a unique communicator that dares to speak his own truths in his own language.
One reason that I’m a fan of Phil’s is that he can go from “geek speak” to “street speak” in a matter of minutes. In one sentence, he uses some deep medical terminology, and in the next, conveys his message like a common homeboy with southern charm.
He breaks all the rules: from frequently using informal words like y’all and ain’t, to clever, colorful expressions to make his point. Some of my favorites are “That dog just ain’t gon’ hunt” and “So how’s that workin’ out for ya’ pal?”
2. He shares effective anecdotes with universal appeal to connect with audiences. Two that stick out with me are his long-term marriage to his wife, Robin, and the struggles they’ve survived, and his dad being an alcoholic. In your writing, it’s important to apply anecdotes to illustrate important points, provide variety in techniques, and draw readers into your story.
3. He stresses the importance of introspection and personal accountability in diagnosing problems and devising a game plan for action.
In order to get where you’d like to be in your creative career, it’s crucial to take some inventory on where you’ve been, mistakes made in the past, and lessons learned. What clients or projects have been the most profitable? How can you manage your time better? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you need to tweak your marketing plan to make more money? There’s great truth to the expression, “Those who fail to learn from the past are destined to repeat it.”
4. He aligns himself with the right people to open more doors.
There’s no disputing that his affiliation with Oprah made all the difference in his career. Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know. For the savvy scribe, this may mean tapping into social media outlets, networking through writers’ associations, and chatting others up via popular bulletin boards.
5. Dr. Phil is funny.
Even though his subject matter is often serious, he’s able to disarm people and make them feel more at ease by using humor and allowing them to sometimes look at the hilarity of the situation.
Savvy writers do as well. Humor is to writing what seasoning is to food. It adds flavor and appeal.
6. He walks the talk.
Though I don't agree with all his theories, assessments and recommendations in his "TV counseling sessions," his words do have merit. Here's a man who has been happily married to the same woman for decades. And I rarely if ever see any bad publicity about his personal or professional life. Wouldn't you agree? In writing, credibility is important to your image. If you give advice, why should readers value it? What qualifies you to speak on your subject matter? These are things to consider.
If you’re striving for “expert” status in your writing career, and the pay and perks that go with it, follow these six savvy tips. It’s just what the “doctor” ordered.
Views? Holla! :-)