How Boxing Can Make Us Better Writers–Lesson 3 STICK & MOVE
Are You Quick on Your Feet?
When I trained as a boxer, we did a lot of footwork. Dart in, hit, then get out of the way. Best way to win a fight? Simple. Don’t get punched. Or at least get punched as little as possible. When our opponent takes a swing? Don’t be there. The skill of sticking-and-moving requires endurance, strength and flexibility. Being a successful Digital Age Author requires the same.
Learn to Stick and Move
Get quick on your feet. Change, adapt, overcome. The lithe survive, especially now in the Digital Age. The big traditional publishers are suffering because their size doesn’t allow them to adapt to the rapid changes that come part-and-parcel with explosive technological advance.
Indies, in this sense, have an advantage. An author can change covers if one isn’t working. He or she can respond directly to what consumers want.
A friend of mine, who happens to be an insanely successful indie author, broke each of his three LONG novels into three SHORT ones. Why? Customer feedback. Readers said they preferred shorter books. Instead of three 120,000 word books, Aaron broke them into nine 40,000 word books. Not only did readers prefer this, but now Aaron was making money off nine books instead of three.
Stick and move.
Knowledge is Power & Helps Us Adjust and Adapt
Knowledge is power, especially these days when everything is shifting at the speed of light. Today’s trend can be gone tomorrow, thus we need to pay attention. Make friends. Read blogs. Be humble. We can learn from anyone.
Be a good listener and never think you are too big to listen to “little people.” Sometimes it’s the outsider, the novice, who holds the most insight. Readers are who told Aaron they wanted shorter books, not NYTBSAs.
When I wrote my first social media book, I didn’t get a bigger, better “social media expert” to read it. I recruited my 60-year-old mother and my 92-year-old aunt. If they could understand it and enjoy my book, then I’d done a good job.
My mother now rules Facebook. Befriend her at your peril.
Experts Can Be Overrated
I always shake my head and laugh at people who think only multi-published fiction authors can teach/comment on writing. Some of the best writing advice we will ever get is from readers.
Teaching is a Different Skill than DOING
Just because someone is a marvelous storyteller, in no way means this person knows how to teach or how to give constructive feedback to others. If best-selling authors with high sales numbers were the only ones qualified to teach or comment on good fiction, then why would the world bother with agents, editors, reviewers, book bloggers, English teachers, or even readers?
To stick and move, we need to be open and know that there are a lot of different forms of expertise.
YES! Listen to multi-published successful authors who also teach, just don’t learn from them exclusively. If we only listen to one type of expert, we’re in real danger of being myopic. We risk falling into groupthink and miss opportunities to plan and act creatively.
We lose the ability to be innovative.
This is part of what has gone so wrong in “big publishing.” They failed to listen to outside opinions and their tunnel-vision has cost them dearly.
Teaching is a totally different skill set.
I’ve met mega-authors who were phenomenal storytellers, but mediocre or even dreadful writing teachers. On the other end? I’ve met people who’ve never published fiction who were masters of understanding and teaching the craft of writing.
Margie Lawson is a stellar example. She’s not a novelist, but her classes have taken newbie writers and shaped them into best-sellling powerhouse authors. I strongly recommend her classes.
Remember, Experts are Experts, Not Omniscient
The indie movement is full of writers who have had staggering success after they finally self-published. Theresa Ragan was rejected by the traditional publishers for EIGHTEEN YEARS. The “experts” told her she wasn’t good enough. Well, 300,000 books sold in 18 months shows me that maybe “experts” don’t know everything.
She didn’t keep standing there in one spot getting pummeled black and blue by agents (“experts”). Theresa learned to stick and move. She did something different. She tried new things.
Part of our job as professionals is to learn to critically think. Take in all kinds of information and advice from all kinds of people, because this is what will hone our instincts. Our gut will tell us when to punch and when to back off. When to duck and when to dive. Who to listen to. Who to ignore. What part of the advice is gold. What part is trash.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee ;).
What are your thoughts? Opinions? Has an expert discouraged you? Have you ever had a time a total amateur gave you an amazing stroke of insight? Who do you like feedback from when it comes to your fiction?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of March I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!