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Asking for Help

It's funny to me that some writers have such trouble asking for help, when the most successful writers in the world probably have an entire team working with them to get them to the top of the industry. Having been a former "do everything myself to get it right" kind of guy, I understand where these independent writers are coming from. Would you let some stranger watch your baby? Of course not. For these writers, their books are their babies and they refuse to let it be altered by some weirdo. Personally, I've gotten a lot of mileage out of asking for help in various parts of the writing process and I encourage you to do the same.

Just this week, I hired an assistant to help me complete the massive project that is 1,000 Character Writing Prompts: Villains, Heroes and Hams for Scripts, Stories and More. I don't have a ton of money to spare, so she'll only be around for 20 hours or so worth of editing, book design, etc., but it's very exciting for me to have someone on my side. This is helpful for two reasons. One, I was getting swamped through the first half of my days and by the time mid-afternoon rolled around, I was hardly ever meeting my productivity expectations. With someone here to do some of the work, I'll play the role of the house husband cleaning before the maid comes over. I'll feel a greater sense of obligation to get the work I need to done so that she can do what she needs to do. Secondly, by asking for help, even if it costs a little money, I feel a bit of the weight off my shoulders and as if the book is finally moving ahead after laying stagnant for a couple of months.

I asked for help when I wrote the play Chekhov Kegstand a few years ago, by collecting a group of friends to come read for the parts and tell me honestly what they thought could stand to change in the show. I didn't pay these friends of mine, I simply bought some food and booze and took notes. This goes to show that you don't just have to pay people to help you, you can find a few friends who like eating and drinking (and hopefully reading out loud) who will be willing to lend you a hand. My first cover designer was my girlfriend and her cover has now been seen by thousands of people because of the help she gave me. If I had tried to do it myself, I might have sold 20 copies instead of 8,000.

Asking for help gets you out of a rut and allows you to see your work from a new angle. The simple act of asking can renew your vigor when it comes to a project and can push you to the finish line. If you find you aren't getting very far in your writing career alone, maybe it's time to bring in the big guns: the people you know and love. 

Done with Asking for Help? Go back to Creative Writing Tips. 

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.

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