Monday 2 July 2012

What do YOU think?

Note: I know this is a day early, but I don't post on Tuesdays, so you're gonna have to see it now :o)

I’ve noticed lately in a lot of writer’s forums (especially in LinkedIn, I really ought to keep away from those, they make me mad), that people like to answer questions with the opinions of other, more established professionals. “This agent says this, that publisher says that, this author says this that and the other …” Well, I’m not participating in discussions to read other people’s opinions, I’m participating to read YOURS. If I wasn’t, I’d be browsing that agent/publisher/author’s site, not reading a public forum.

Before I go on, I must point out, that researching the opinions of professionals in the publishing industry is only going to benefit your chances of getting published. I’m not in any way telling you not to do your research. The more information you gather the wiser you’ll become. But this information should be used to form the basis of your own opinions. Who do you agree with? Disagree with? And why? Whose opinions are you ambivalent about, or indifferent about? Why? Now …what’s YOUR opinion on the matter? And … you guessed it … WHY? And how is this information going to help you move forward?

Have a think about it.

Have you ever participated in some sort of discussion about writing and reiterated the information of others? Do you do this because you are insecure your own opinions aren’t valid? Or stupid? Or totally and utterly wrong?

Don’t be.

Most people will respect you a whole lot more if you come out with an opinion that is clearly your own. Take a moment to think about how YOU feel about the issue. If you want to support your opinion with someone else’s opinion, go for it, but do it in a way that puts you in control of what you’re saying, rather than hiding behind the safety net of someone else’s validated words. Pull out that pocket knife, slash open the net, and …


Have you ever hidden behind the opinions of others? Why?


  1. Oh sure, I've hidden behind another's opinion, and I've spouted thoughts and words that weren't my own. Why. Well, one because I was young and insecure and thought my thoughts didn't sound lofty enough. Two, because I didn't feel knowledgeable enough to speak my own mind. Anymore, I'm not shy about saying, "Gee... I don't know."

  2. I haven’t so much hidden behind the opinions of others as lacked the confidence to state my own opinion because they are not clearly enough established. There are a surprising number of things I find I have no opinion on. I did a survey this morning and one of the questions was regarding my favourite brand and the simple answer is that I have no favourite brand; I couldn’t care less who makes my clothes. That is a trivial issue but once we get onto bigger issues where one would think I ought to have an opinion I usually find I don’t know enough about the subject to say one way or the other. I was commenting in a blog at the weekend about asylum seekers and found that I knew next to nothing about how many there are in Scotland, where they come from, why they’re here or what criteria the government uses to decide to stays. If you phrase the question broadly enough—e.g. Do you think Scotland should find homes for asylum seekers?—I’d have to say, yes, but once you move on from there to setting quotas and drawing lines then it’s not so easy and I pity those in government who have to make decisions like that.

    As far as your forums go quoting knowledgeable people is all fine and well—academics do it as a matter of course—and it’s good to feel you have a heavyweight in your corner but the question is: Is he in your corner or are you in his? Opinions don’t need to be right or wrong. As long as you make it clear that what you are offering is an opinion then people may disagree with you but you cannot be wrong. In my humble opinion men should never wear drainpipe trousers. There, that’s my opinion. Thousands will disagree with me and that’s fine. Let them do what they want. Until the government makes the wearing of them obligatory we won’t have a problem.

    When it comes to writing there are so many differing opinions that you’ll be hard pushed not to find someone out there who’ll agree with you. I frequently cite Larkin’s stance regarding reading poetry aloud because he backs me up not that I believe it because he said so. He and I are very much in the minority and that’s why I use him as backup.

  3. I'm pretty opinionated about some things, but when I'm entering a new field, like publishing, for example, I tend to not dispense a lot of opinions until I know what I'm talking about.

  4. I think a lot of people feel safer reiterating the opinions of established professionals. Also, from what I know of you, not everyone has your self-confidence. Still, I understand your point and think maybe you could extend those online conversations by saying "great, but do you agree or disagree w/that opinion and what about this opposite opinion" in order to try to draw those people out of their safe little shell.

  5. I totally agree that we should never adopt someone else's opinion. Oh wait...that means I should disagree with yours. ;)
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

  6. I can only be a second-rate someone else. With intelligence and wit, I have a shot at becoming a first-rate me. My mother used to say to opinionated bullies, "If God wanted me to be another you, He would have made you twins." I am concerned about you in the turmoil that is engulfing Greece. Stay safe, Roland

  7. I've done that, but it is usually when FOR THE QUESTION, what agents or publishers say really is more relevant to the answer than the opinion of an author who at the time wasn't even a PUBLISHED author. I'm pretty free with my opinion though, and even in those formats, often qualify with a 'but I think...'

    You definitely want to keep watch on those Linked In discussions. Somehow that environment tends to bring out arrogance or something. I got sucked in for a while--made a couple friends even. But there just wasn't a 'norm of civility' that I look for in places I stay.

  8. You should hang out at QT forum. It's mostly laid back (though there have been a few newer peeps shaking things up a bit). I have quoted industry professionals. BUT! It's always been to explain how i formed my own opinion on something. IE, i believe "this" because so and so said it and in general i find her advice helpful. Junk like that

  9. >>...Do you do perhaps do this because you are insecure your own opinions aren’t valid?

    Yes, that's it. Because I am insecure about the validity of my own opinions. (How'dja know?)

    >>...Don’t be.

    Uh... well, OK... I'll TRY not to be.


    Uhm... well, are you sure? I mean, who am I, really? And whoever I am, can't I be Johnny Depp instead? He's so cute, so rich, so... "desirable".

    >>...Have you ever hidden behind the opinions of others?

    Yes. That's all I ever do.


    Why?... Why?... Uh... well, because... because... what was that you said before? "Do you do perhaps do this because you are insecure your own opinions aren’t valid?" Yes, that's it! That's why I do this. It's just like YOU said, I do it because I'm insecure about the validity of my own opinions. (Isn't that right? If not, please let me know.)

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Thanks for pointing out my typing error, Stephen.

  10. When I do that, it's because the opinion of an industry professional should, and does, carry more weight than my own. And if I'm passing it along, it usually means I've given it some manner of credence.

  11. Ditto on what DL said. I haven't participated in forums for a while. And usually the one I did participate in where about my opinion.

    I didn't know Linkedin has discussions. I'm registered but I've yet to visit the site.

  12. I used to know a guy who would read game reviews to see if the game was crap or not, if it was/wasn't then he would stand by those words and speak them as his own before even touching the game itself.

    I tend to do as much research into something before commenting or expressing an opinion. But it helps to quote from a credible source to back up my claims. I don't think I've felt an opinion of mine was wrong unless I was working from incorrect information at the time, then I guess my opinion would be flawed.

  13. Hi Jessica, I wondered if you would kindly feature my ebook free promotion giveaway, two children's books on your blog? for the 6th to 9th and the 12th to the 13th July please? Don't worry if that is a problem. Kind regards, Carole.

  14. Someone once said...
    Sometimes I do, because there is so much about writing and publishing and marketing that I just don't have a clue. Not just I don't have an opinion - I have no idea.
    But if it's something I do know about, I'll offer my own opinion.

  15. Sure. Kids do this all the time as they're developing their own opinions. The problem comes in with adults who either never develop an opinion of their own or choose not to state that opinion because it doesn't match the current popular idiocy. Either is a betrayal.

  16. Yes. But, I'm learning and growing and really examining what I like, believe, want to encourage and support. Great post. Great message!

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“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris