Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Nasty Business of Writing

Am I the only writer who hates the business of writing?

The other day, I visited a blog where the author apologized for her infrequent posts. Instead, she was editing her manuscript.

What? How dare she write? Take her out back and flog her!

Publishing houses and their slow, highly-competitive, money-crunching mentality require writers to invest greater portions of their time selling their name and products. They don’t give out free marketing help anymore, especially to a lesser-known author. And if writers publish their own books, they are guaranteed even less time to write. Add an outside job, family, and keeping up with all the social platforms, and authors might as well shove available prime writing time nose first out a ten-story window.

How are writers to remedy this? The pat answer: They do the best they can and without apology.

Writers must plan to succeed. Even if they sell a book, the process will take years before they can survive on the craft alone. Thus, authors need a strategy, a means to achieve their writing goals. Below are just a few suggestions to make the road less bumpy:

  • Establish a set writing time. Listening to the muse only when the mood strikes or during different times each day is less productive than working on a specific schedule.  
  • Get organized. Apply the same talent used in organizing a book to the business of writing. Keep supplies and research where you can find them. Everything should have a place and a method in its application. 
  • Set goals. A to-do list helps. Plan the night before what writing takes precedence the next day. Check at the end of each session to reevaluate progress and adjust goals accordingly. 
  • Create a budget, stay within the parameters. Be realistic. 
  • Keep good records. Learn how to keep track of expenses and to do taxes. I know, I know, this makes me grumpy too. 
  • Keep contacts handy. Searching through cupboards for someone’s phone number wastes valuable writing time. 
  • Invest in a website, business cards, high-speed internet, a good computer, and printer. These are the necessities of the writing business, and they help writers present a professional face to the world. 
  • Get trained. Take a class, read how-to books, attend conferences, and join a support group (the operative phrase here is a support group. Avoid spreading yourself too thin). 
  • Most importantly, WRITE. Every day. Don’t allow business and organization to take over. Maybe the first item on your to-do list should reflect the purpose of the bits of housekeeping I’ve listed in this post.

Didn't we set out to write all along?


G.M. said...

Literary agent Rachelle Gardner posted that unpublished authors don't have to blog frequently. I blog only every two months, focusing my time on my novels.

Bonnee Crawford said...

Some good rules to write by, Penny, some great advice. Allocating yourself specific writing time is always handy, it's just a matter of being motivated and sticking to it!