Welcome to our latest installment on the Dark Side of Freelance Writing, where we discuss some of the negative aspects of freelancing. Past installments in this series featured freelance writing burnout and when clients rip us off.
Today we’re going to discuss negativity from other freelance writers. This is something I’ve had on my mind for years but don’t like to talk about because of the delicate subject matter. Sometimes talking about these things bring out heated emotions and I’m an avoidance kind of gal. After a conversation last week with my friend Anne Wayman, I thought I’d toss it out for discussion.
When I first began freelance writing, mentors, books and website articles helped me pick up pointers. As I discovered forums, I started participating in those as well. It wasn’t long before I learned that sometimes forum discussions could get heated. So much so that battles lines are drawn. This doesn’t make for a positive social experience. Sometimes freelance writers in forums will even make up several different personalities in order to attack another writer. Some of that carries over to blogs and social networks. In other words, major drama.
In the virtual world what strangers do shouldn’t bother us, but I know many freelancers who are hurt by forum or blog drama.
In the ten years I’ve been freelancing I’ve come across:
- A “pile on” mentality by forum cliques directed at freelance writers who have a different point of view.
- Freelance writers who send notes to freelance writing bloggers in hopes that said bloggers will name names and discredit competitors.
- Editors who won’t hire freelance writers simply because they like a competitor.
- Freelance writers who send other writers venomous notes telling them they have no business writing for a living.
- Whole blogs created solely to discredit other freelance writers
- Lines drawn across the low/high paying great divide
- A freelance writer who I mentored in my home used my laptop to troll blogs and forums. ( I believe Allena Tapia had a similar situation)
- Freelance writers who wrote to editors in order to get other freelancers fired.
- Freelancers who research years of another freelance writer’s blog posts in order to find stuff to throw in their face. (or send it to me to discredit those writers which I won’t do.)
We don’t often think that other freelance writers would do anything to hurt us, but sometimes it happens. Sometimes it’s harmless trolling, other times it can turn to bullying and harassment. That’s rare though. It rarely carries offline as most freelance writing bullies are only courageous online.
If it happens to you…
If another freelancer is attacking you. Ignore it. If it turns into bullying, there are organizations that deal with it. If certain blogs or forums are causing a negative experience, stop visiting. At this point in the game, there are so many blogs, forums and social networks available to freelance writers that you’re sure to find one suiting your needs, with the vibe you’re looking for.
Mostly, people who are acting in a negative manner are doing so for the reaction. If you don’t give it them, they’ll probably go away. Really, the best solution is to ignore the negativity. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that to engage will escalate the drama and blow the entire situation out of proportion. I’m happy to say the majority of freelance writes I know and talk to every day are very helpful and encouraging. It’s those negative few who can cause a freelance writer to become disheartened.
So now it’s out in the open. While most freelance writers are very helpful, sometimes the claws come out. Do you come across this in your online travels? If so, how do you deal with it? Have you ever been the victim of another freelance writer’s anger.