Last night, hubby and I watched The Founder. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the story of McDonald’s and how it got started. The McDonald brothers opened their first store in California and ended up being a success. They franchised, but it didn’t work well because they didn’t have a good handle on quality. When Ray Kroc came in, he wanted to franchise and had ideas on how to do it.

In the end, Kroc ended up taking over the company from the McDonald brothers. He basically pushed them out, and in many ways, they let him. They didn’t fight him hard enough when they had opportunities to, they let him use the name and didn’t challenge him, and they didn’t foresee the ways he would screw them over.

It was a fascinating lesson in business, and also a sad story of how two intelligent, creative people were taken advantage of by a business-savvy individual.

Why does this matter to writing?

One thing I learned from this movie is that you have to stick to your guns. The brothers didn’t want to sign anything at the beginning. They did because one of them had a dream of seeing McDonald’s as a franchise all over the country. But they didn’t want to sign.

They never should have, and hindsight is always 20/20.

If you embark on a writing career, you’ll have a lot of people telling you what you should do. Write certain things, submit to certain publishers, join certain organizations, everything you can imagine and then some.

Only you know what works for you.

When I started writing, I knew I wanted to indie publish. That means no publisher backs me. I write the stories I want. I find my own editors and choose all the people I work with. I was told many times that I should submit to one publisher or another. That I should do one thing or another. That I needed to write one type of story or another.

It was hard not to listen.

That’s one of the big things about any business, but it’s even harder, in my opinion, with writing. You want to be successful. You want to earn money. You want to find readers. So when someone gives you advice, it’s hard not to listen. It’s hard to say the ‘expert’ that’s telling you what to do is wrong.

The reality is, they might be wrong for you.

When people give you advice, most of the time, they aren’t trying to fool you or harm you. They want to help, but you need to go into a career like writing, or any career where you’re self-employed, with a plan. Figure out ahead of time what you want your career to look like, then stick to your guns when all those well-meaning people try to tell you how to run your world.

If you have a question, about writing or anything else, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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