Business,  Content and Copywriting

Tip for New Writers: Successful Writers Don’t Burn Bridges

burning bridges

I frequent many writers’ forums. I like to lurk, absorbing the knowledge that my peers type about companies and publishers.
Recently, though, I stumbled upon a thread full of angry writers. The writers all freelanced for a publication that I wrote for, as well. The publication had decided to essentially put all freelance projects on hold while they sorted out financial issues. I understood and was patiently waiting to hear if I would get to work with them again.
The group of writers in this thread didn’t feel the same. Many threatened the company with a smear campaign. Others posted hateful diatribes directed at the editors of the publishing company. Many declared that they would never write for the company again.
This company had been good to their writers. They always paid on time and offered extra incentives for hard work. I had to wonder if these angry writers were shooting themselves in the foot with this public display of angst.
You see, as a freelance writer of almost 20 years, I have learned to take everything in stride. I know the value of holding my temper and not burning bridges.
When I first started my writing career I went to work for a small company as a freelance article writer. This company was bought out only months after I started writing for them. They told their writers that they would be handing out work again within a month’s time. I didn’t hear from them (other than a “wait and see” letter) for more than a year. Instead of sending them a hateful I’m-Tired-of-Waiting email or ranting about them on forums, I took work with other companies.
Then, one day they emailed me out of the blue and offered me a fantastic opportunity. The job took me about thirty minutes and I got paid $100.

Since then, I have worked for them consistently for two years and have made thousands of dollars.
Another time that I could have burned bridges was when a publication wouldn’t answer my emails. I had worked with this publication for around a year and they paid well. Plus, I loved the work. Suddenly, though, I stopped receiving emails from my editor. Did I send a heated email? No, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Turns out, my email system was blocking their emails even though I had them on my safe list. After the problem was solved I continued writing articles for them and made a lot of money.
Even though that editor wasn’t the problem, many are. I’ve dealt with some real jerks in my time. One of my first editors, for example, was a piece of work. She’d rarely answer her emails and when she did she would give me one sentence answers that didn’t even address what I had asked in the first place. Then, when I emailed her again, she would give me very snotty responses. I remained civil and, though I was tempted, I didn’t go over her head and create a situation with her boss. Many writers will tell you this is a mistake. My theory is that no editor stays at a publication for very long. You don’t need to waste your writing time fighting the system, it will change soon enough. Sure enough, a few months later a new editor took her place and that publication is still one of my best sources of income.
Moral of the story? Getting work as a writer is hard. Making connections is hard. Don’t make your life harder by burning bridges.

I've been a DIY, lifestyle, tech and health writer for two decades. Dang, that makes me sound old...Anywhoo, feel free to follow me on Twitter. I'm @alinabradford. Real original handle, huh?


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  • Alina Bradford

    Thanks Brent. I came across a writer like this just last week. She was known across the internet as one of those bridge burning writers and because of it, she has been fired by many of her clients and she has a bad reputation with other writers, as well. No one will touch her with a ten-foot-pole.

  • Brent

    As I get older I have realized how foolish it is to burn bridges. Sometimes you burn your it yourself (writing hate mail, and just being mean) other times its just the way the scenario unfolds. This is good advice though, once you are labeled as being "that" person, it can follow you for years. I have known people who have burnt so many bridges that they are almost unemployable (spelling). Thanks for sharing all of your experience.

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