The Drama Queen Gene
By Gail Richards - Feb 18 , 2008
Do you have an overactive Drama Queen Gene?
We all have this gene—it’s the one that puts our shorts in an uproar over something we don’t have all the facts about. And most of the time, we take a deep breath, get over ourselves, and calmly move forward.
However, when the DQG is overactive, it can completely get in our way as authors, because, as authors, we are often operating on a learning curve in situations and with people that we don’t have all the facts about.
Here are three ways to keep your DQG in check:
• DON’T STIR the POT
Sometimes we panic when we don’t have all the facts. Our mind races to fill in the blanks in a way that will make sense out of the situation. The problem is, these blanks are filled with assumptions and connections many of which involve the motivations of others—most of which end up being wide of the mark, all of which create anxiety.
“You aren’t committed to this project as much as I am. You have completely different goals than I do. I thought we were supposed to be partners.”
You can think you know someone on your team—even a co-author—very well, but if you haven’t had at least one conversation about goals and at least one about division of labor, you are operating in the dark, and therefore so are they. The danger in this (aside from the obvious impact on productivity) lies in the emotional fallout. Perhaps this person has needed to shift gears to handle a legitimate personal reason you aren’t tuned into (illness, child heading off to college, spouse may be losing a job). Perhaps your work is moving through a period where the workload natural falls on you because of your strengths. Perhaps you should ask what’s going, rather than jumping to conclusions, such as:
“I sent my proposal two weeks ago and have gotten no word. They hate it!”
Some book proposal etiquette advice for you: Follow up in about six weeks. Follow up every three weeks after that. If a publisher is not interested at all, they are likely to follow up sooner than if they are actually giving your book any level of consideration. And, when you do follow up, send news about what you have been up to that will serve to remind them about your book. Any news that highlights the growth of your author platform or interesting about your book is optimal. Do not ask if they have read your book yet!
• SAY what you MEAN and MEAN what you SAY
Passive-aggressive communication is the biggest clue that your DQG is out of whack, and the most widespread symptom. Don’t say something just to avoid making waves, please someone, or look good. This will likely result in a tsunami down the road.
“That sounds fine with me.”
Does it? Really? Your resistance to saying what you mean causes you frustration, not to mention unnecessary work for you and everyone else. Do you have the luxury of wasting that amount of time and energy? Do you have the right to waste it for others?
• ONE Meeting is ENOUGH
Avoid the clandestine “meeting after the meeting” syndrome. Say what you need to say, at the time it needs to be said, to the people who need to hear it.
“When you have a minute, I would like to ask you something in private.”
If there is an issue you need to sort through or even loudly vent about, then go for it—but go for it in a neutral spot in front of a neutral audience. This allows the static to fade and the meat of the issue to clarify so that you can have the conversation you need to have with the people directly involved.
If you take anything away from this message, I hope it will be this—the shortest distance between two points is still a straight line.
© 2008 Gail Richards