The Heart of a Writer's Career

The story.

With the wealth of information available on the Internet, a writer can easily be overwhelmed with facts and figures pertaining to the industry. It's important to be aware, to be knowledgeable. But it's also important to remember that in order to be a player in the publishing game you have to bring something to the table.

The story.

Not just any story, but a well crafted, compelling work of art, whether it be fiction or non-fiction. Unless you are one of the 'blessed'--a writer who can whip out a masterpiece in a month or two--then this means focusing a goodly amount of time and attention on your manuscript. This means you may have to cheat time away from non-essential time suckers. It's up to each individual to determine what those 'time-suckers' are. Television? Social events? On-line shopping? Virtual games? For me, it's blog-hopping. I've scaled back. But not enough. How do I know? Because whatever time I spend hopping around to see who's doing what and what's happening where, I'm not working on...

The story.

I know I've touched on this before. It's an on going battle and it's tough, because you tell yourself that you are keeping abreast of the industry. That you're socializing with and supporting industry pals. That you're contributing to discussions and getting your name out there. We all know how important 'name recognition' is. But the purpose of name recognition is so that when someone sees your book on the shelf, even if they've never read you before, the familiarity factor will kick in and prompt a sale. But they won't see your book on the shelf if you don't write...

The story.

Let's get back to the overwhelming facts and figures. MJ Rose's 11/27 post, The Challenges, is a key example of information that has the potential to paralyze me. It focuses on author's trying to survive in today's market. On advertising and promo... celebrity branding. At it's heart:

"How many of us can afford to be plain old novelists anymore proficient in only one static flat dimension? Who is going to work with us to turn us into multi-media artists? Who at the publishing house is going to create the opportunities? Or even stay ahead of the curve?"

Reading this (or just about any promo post from the amazing JA Konrath) tangles my insides. It makes me think about how I should be doing more promo wise. And not just any old promo, but cutting edge promo. Except there's the issue of money. And time. Then I remind myself I need a product to promo.

The story.

For a published author there are all sorts of additional time-suckers and worry points. Checking our Amazon and BN rankings. Phoning that magic Ingram number to check distribution numbers. Googling your name to see if anyone is talking about you or your book. Disappointing royalty statements. Lack of fan mail. Lack of a new contract. Agent issues. Editor issues. The list is endless. The danger is that you end up obsessing more than writing and then you'll really have something to worry about because you can't build a career without...

The story.

I'm writing this post for me, honestly. Because I'm producing at a slug's pace and I'm determined to figure out why. I'm determined to beat it. But I'm also, always, hopeful that whatever I write here is helpful or inspiring in some way to my fellow writers. Published or unpublished, if you're not producing at a level you're happy with, analyze what's holding you back and handle it. Put it in perspective or banish it from your daily life. Put your heart and soul back into your writing. Everything else is moot without...

The story.

Comments

Cynthia said…
But I know what's keeping me from producing more pages (or any pages) on my writing. I'm afraid to actually succeed at it. I love the whole process of this, but when I know the writing is good I scare myself and everything gets put on hold. I'm just now trying to get back into a manuscript I spent all summer honing into a wondeful outline. It's been sitting at 91 pages for . . . two months now.

So today, like most days, I'm fighting my own little demon and trying to write. The good news is, the manuscript is open, I've re-read most of it, the outline is out and I have someplace to go with it. Now I just have to get to it. Once I've tackled the monster that is the morning internet routine. Yeah, I read too many blogs too.
Beth Ciotta said…
You're ahead of the game, Cynthia, in that you have determined what's slowing you down. "Fear of success" is more common than we may think. Everytime we succeed at something, like selling that first book, it puts us on another plane--more challenges, more issues. More is expected of us. More stories. Consistent or higher quality. Accelerated productivity. It's enough to spur an anxiety attack... or to cause one to delay success by dragging one's feet.

Know that you are not alone in your fear. Celebrate the fact that you tackled that outline and have 91 pages of the manuscript under your belt. Don't focus on the future. Focus on NOW. And write your heart out :)
Cynthia said…
Actually sitting down Monday night with my outline and highlighting what I have written helped a lot. I didn't see the huge hole I'd left in the outline before. It's taking me a little time to get back in the characters heads, but I'm nearly there and once I am the words will come.

I am very proud not only of the outline but the pages I have. Now I just have to put but in chair and write.
Anna Lucia said…
Oh, beautiful, timely post, Beth. Thank you.

And Brava.
Jordan Summers said…
Great post, Beth. I'm sure I fear success and failure in equal measures. *g* I don't think they are what is holding me back. I certainly participate in WAY too many time sucks. Need to fix that and fast. Right now I think the biggest thing is being fast with a writing challenge that I'm not sure I can surmount. Scary stuff, my friend.
Beth Ciotta said…
Sounds good, Cynthia. Yep. Sometimes distance REALLY helps. Good luck!

Glad you got something out of my anxiety attack, Anna. :) Cheers!
Beth Ciotta said…
Jordan, sounds like you and I are in the same boat, my friend. Ditto to all you said! Yup. Scary stuff. My money's on you though. You'll conquer that writing challange. You have the fire and heart!
Anonymous said…
Excellent-thanks for sharing. I am struggling here also-producing the story! I haven't figured out all my stoppers yet, but everything you have written holds true. And, it has helped me to realize I must get past my stoppers and write The Story!
I've copied and printed this out and am keeping it as inspriation.
Ellen in MI :)
Beth Ciotta said…
Hello, Ellen! Welcome and thank you for chiming in. Does my heart good to know I have inspired someone. *g* I'll think positive thoughts regarding progress on your story. You sound determined and that is a huge part of the battle right there. Now go slay those 'stoppers'!
Jordan Summers said…
Thanks Beth! That would be 'faced' with a writing challenge. Thanks for deciphering my spelling mistakes. *ggg*
Megumi said…
It always makes me feel better to know that struggling to write and keep a certain pace is normal for all writers. At first, I thought it was just ME. Thanks for putting up this post. It made me realize I'm not alone, and that I should really look at what's holding my writing back.
Beth Ciotta said…
Megumi, I also like to hear from other writers--the ups and downs. It's always nice to know that we are not alone in our troubles and triumps. Good luck pinpointing what's 'holding you back'. Knowing is half the battle. :)
Anonymous said…
Whether the post was just for you or not--it is completely relevant to any author. Published or not.

Right now, I could list pages of what is getting in the way of more writing. All of them excuses (even I know that). But the whole idea of physically writing them down so you can stuff them away really might help me move on. Gonna give it a shot!

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