If you haven’t heard of Ted Williams by now, you must have been working really hard! Ted Williams was homeless, asking for change by the highway in Columbus, Ohio. He has an incredible voice perfect for voice-overs, radio work, etc. In fact, before addiction took hold, Williams worked in radio.
A videographer for the Columbus Dispatch newspaper captured his voice and story, published the piece and it went viral. Soon, calls and job offers began pouring in for the man with the “golden voice.”
There’s a lot to be said about the heartwarming story – the power of social media, the ‘aw shucks-ness’ of humanity, the real stories behind our nation’s homeless population… One important lesson, from a writer’s perspective, is the importance of finding or maintaining your voice throughout and despite the challenges writers face in this career.
Rejection happens. I once read that the average writer’s pitch is rejected 9 times out of 10. I’m not sure if the stats are that high, but this reality makes it easy for writers to give up or worse, work for less than they are worth. In the middle of the daily grind, a writer may find themselves without a voice. In reality your voice is still there and still powerful. It simply needs the opportunity to be heard. Remember, for every rejection letter there are thousands of other publications and opportunities. Don’t give up.
Business as Usual
Writing is a business – and a tricky one too. You have to manage your deadlines, keep enough work coming in and play bill collector. The business of writing is enough to stifle anyone’s creative juices, but I can attest that the worst part is playing bill collector. Slow paying publications and skip out clients are bitter pills to swallow, but protecting your voice makes it worthwhile. Negotiate your contract terms. Put in as many protections: deposits, legal and late fees as possible.
Comfort & Boredom
When you think you’ve got this business down to a science, comfort and even boredom can set in like a sneaky funk. Your pieces are written by rote and your voice? As soothing as an automated phone – yuck. This is when it’s time to break out of your comfort zone and work to put the passion back into your work.
Ted Williams reportedly began training his voice early. Setbacks and missteps threatened to silence him, but all he needed was someone to hear his voice, regain his passion and hopefully, protect it. It’s a lesson for us all.