September 22, 2015

Are You Able to Ask for Help?

Child helping a fallen child up with text: Can You Admit When You Need Help?

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. *smile* That means I try to have my i’s dotted and my t’s crossed for every project. But it’s easy to be overwhelmed.

We have writing craft to learn, drafting to meet our word count goals, and editing and revisions to fix. We have queries to submit and publishers to research. We have publishing options to investigate and marketing and promotion to do. And that doesn’t even count anything from our day job or families.

In short, we often have too much to do and not enough time. It’s normal to need help sometimes.

Yet many of us struggle with asking for help or knowing when to bring in the cavalry. We might find it difficult to trust someone else to do a good job (like the saying, if you want something done right, do it yourself). Or we might not want to be a burden to others.

Sometimes, not being able to do it all can feel like failure, so we might resist admitting that we’re not superheroes. But the fact of the matter is that we might have a better chance of being that superhero by saving the love interest and the city if we have help. *grin*

Ask for Help…Or Else!

This year has been a killer for me. Four releases in one year as a slow writer—even though I had them all written in advance, they still needed editing—has kept me from drafting new words in my next book.

My inbox is a disaster, and my day job shifted two months ago to muck up my schedule. I’m now getting about 5-6 hours of sleep a night, and I’m burnt.

In other words, I’ve had to learn this year to ask for help. I’m still not great at it, but I’m trying.

I accepted that learning how to format my ebooks myself wasn’t something I had time for, so I tapped my beta buddy Angela Quarles for assistance. I knew she was an HTML genius, and I trusted her with my nitpickiness. And she delivered…perfectly. *smile*

Prioritize What We Can and Should Do

Could I have learned ebook formatting? Sure. I could probably learn Photoshop and do my own covers too.

There are hundreds of things we need to do on our path to success, and we can learn them all with enough time or training. That doesn’t mean we should, however.

Everything we do ourselves takes time away from other projects or tasks—like writing the books that are the whole point of our career. Trying to do it all means we’ll end up with balls being dropped this way and that. We’ll burn out and not be able to get anything done (she says all-too-knowingly).

At the same time, many things we need help with cost money: editing, book covers, formatting, etc. So it’s a constant balancing act of prioritizing the things that cost money and we can’t do ourselves (a professional edit, etc.), the things we could save money at by doing ourselves, and the things we could do ourselves but we might be better off by seeing if we can either beg for help or squeeze it into our budget.

I save money by doing my own promo images and bookmarks and print formatting. For those, I use programs I’m already familiar with, so I didn’t have to “waste” time getting up to speed before being useful.

I maximize my royalties by going direct with several retailers. As I knew I would have four releases right away, I figured the one-time effort to learn those systems upfront was worth it.

For me, my situation, and my strengths and weaknesses, those choices make sense for now. Others will come up with different priorities.

But the one choice that usually won’t make sense is for us to do everything ourselves. That way lies burnout or quality issues—maybe both.

Guest Post Help? Yes, Please!

My blog usually falls into the “I invite those I want” camp for guest posts. When I think of a blog topic that I don’t have the experience or knowledge to tackle, I reach out to someone who does and ask if they’d like to guest post.

But one way I’ve gotten better about asking for help is putting out calls for guest posts when I know my schedule will be too crazy to keep up with my epic-length blog posts. Last year, I put out my first call to help me out during NaNoWriMo November, and this past summer, I needed help during a vacation.

Both times I received fantastic proposals that I was proud to include here at my blog. I love giving a boost to others by letting them “borrow” the audience of a “Top 100 Websites for Writers” blog here at the same time they’re helping me. Some of the guest posts here from the previous proposal calls have been shared over 1000 times!

(And that’s not counting the usual online and newsletter readers, which also number in the thousands, or the ongoing exposure through my blog’s popularity with search engines.)

So I’m doing a call for NaNo November again. *smile* I’m accepting guest post proposals for articles that will run during the month of November. Yay!

Have a Guest Post Idea? Let Me Know!

The previous times I was open for proposals, I wanted posts I couldn’t write. I don’t claim to know everything or to have had every experience, and the opportunity to expand the knowledge base here with topics beyond my awareness is one of the best (if not the best) reason to allow guest posts.

This time around, in addition to that usual preference for tip-heavy posts, I’m also open to “Stories from Storytellers” proposals.

I haven’t decided yet whether these stories would get their own post or be combined with other storytellers, but I want to give a chance to those who want to share:

  • what they’ve learned,
  • what they’ve overcome,
  • what they struggle with,
  • who’s helped them, etc.

(So if you’ve previously submitted a proposal along these lines, get back in touch with me, and we’ll see if we can make it work this time. *smile*)

Have an idea for a guest post? Hit me up through my Contact Page with a proposal for what you’re thinking, and let me know if you see the topic as more of a tip-focused post or a “Stories from Storytellers” post. I’m interested in seeing both kinds.

I run topics here that cover all aspects of writing, from craft and publishing advice to the ups and downs of writing life. As long as the post will add value for my readers (no promo-only posts), I’m happy to take a look at all ideas. *smile*

Do you struggle with asking for help? What makes it difficult for you? What makes you give in and accept assistance? Are some things harder to accept help with than others? Why? Do you have any questions for me about guest blogging or proposals?

Join Jami in her upcoming workshop:
Get ready for NaNo by learning how to do just enough story development to write faster with “Lost Your Pants? The Impatient Writers Guide to Plotting a Story.”

Pin It

Comments — What do you think?

Click to grab Pure Sacrifice now!
  Subscribe to emails for Comments/Replies on this post  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Davonne Burns

This is a subject that you think I would be familiar with since I have a chronic illness and often have issues with executive functions, much less just writing. Yet I rarely ask for help even when I desperately need it. Mostly out of fear of being a burden or being annoying. It took me three days to convince myself to make the post on Facebook yesterday about needing beta readers (which I still need).


I do have trouble asking for some sorts of help, but it has less to do with perfectionism and more due to such requests being a vulnerability that can be held over you for weeks, months, years…

On the bright side, my experience does mean that I have comprehension of and the ability to write the types of characters who do that sort of thing.

Serena Yung
Serena Yung

Hey Jami, Cool, what a coincidence! I recently chatted with a friend about this bad habit of mine: always having unrealistic expectations for how much I can do each day. No matter how much I try and later berate myself when I “fail,” time will always be limited, and my energy is limited too! So what would be much better is if I congratulate and praise myself for what I DID manage to accomplish that day, rather than always putting myself down for things I DIDN’T manage to do that day, lol. As for asking for help, yeah I always fear being a burden and maybe, as Carradee said, I don’t want to make myself vulnerable to others when I have to rely on them to do a good job–and finish it on time! So maybe this is to do with not being able to trust others to help us effectively, as you mentioned above. Lol on the writing path requiring many skills, yes, this is definitely a problem for me and many other Indie authors! Unless I become richer in the future, I won’t be able to afford hiring professional illustrators for my MANY books. That would be tens of thousands of dollars or more. O_O So I rely on drawing covers myself (I don’t trust even professional artists to get my characters exactly right, haha, so I’m a perfectionist in that aspect), and I’m learning to use Photoshop to manage these drawings and covers. Thankfully, apart from writing…  — Read More »


Hey, fanfic writing is fun! ^_^

Serena Yung
Serena Yung

It is indeed! And it really is awesome that I can keep up with Pokemon now without playing the games, since video games are too addictive for me, haha.


[…] tries to succeed alone faces a tough journey. When things get hectic, Jami Gold wonders if you are able to ask for help, and Janis Cooke Newman asserts that everyone needs a writing […]

Glynis Jolly

Jami, I’m willing to write a post about how to write a character whose disabled. I’m disabled myself and have worked with clients who have physical and/or mental challenges.

Can I assume this is for the month of November when you’ll be involved in NaNoWriMo?

Taurean J. Watkins (@Taurean_Watkins)

Sometimes knowing you need help isn’t the issue. It’s finding ways to facilitate (in most cases, FINANCE) said help. I know you know this, Jami, and I that’s what I’m struggling right now.

I finally had to acknowledge that because I want fab and PRO custom covers for my books (like my favorite books) I have to accept that until I amass this legion of people who’ll be willing to “bank on me” I have to finance it all on my own. There is pride in that, but also challenges in that.

But because I don’t (Yet…) have alternate ways to earn the money to expedite the process, I’m struggling here.

This is why I wish at times humans on average had longer lifespans because telling ourselves and others to be “Patient” I feel makes light of the problem.

I’ve thought about starting a Fiverr gig, but I really can’t think of anything I could offer that offers the value I’ve gotten from services I’ve purchased through Fiverr myself, and I’ve given it lots of though, Jami.

I know you make the point that expensive doesn’t equal quality (I REALLY GET THAT, OKAY?) but if what you need/want is X price, and bargaining isn’t an option, you feel alone. I don’t want to whine, but that’s where I’m at right now.


[…] Asking friends and family for help […]

Click to grab Stone-Cold Heart now!