Are We Undermining Our Own Writing Success?
I rarely reread books, namely because there are so many new titles I want to consume and only so many hours in the day. But, there are a handful of books I read and reread namely because they are areas I struggle in and so reinforcement is tremendously helpful.
The three books I seem to cycle through the most are actually about money and investing: Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and (even though it is an older book) Stanley and Danko’s The Millionaire Next Door.
There are plenty of money manuals that promise to make me a gazillionaire overnight with no effort on my part and those kinds of plans frankly give me hives.
The books I prefer are far more salt-of-the-earth and they say the same things, though in different ways.
Fortunes made on a winning lottery ticket are rare and never last. Slow and steady wins the race. Never underestimate small actions done daily.
I know this. I know all of this stuff. So how is it I so easily get off-track?
What is so fascinating particularly about The Millionaire Next Door is the very people we would think have vast investment portfolios actually are far more likely to be living paycheck to paycheck. Conversely, those who actually have accumulated substantial wealth often don’t “look” wealthy at all.
Here I was beating myself up because I use coupons and buy everything on sale.
What am I doing so wrong?
When I reread these books, I realize that I’m doing a lot more right than wrong. What I perceive as a truth actually isn’t (it’s a consumption shill propagated by pop culture). Most genuine millionaires don’t have a fleet of new luxury cars. They have a solid IRA instead.
But because my “vision” isn’t correct, it is then really easy for me to start accumulating bad habits that undermine my goals.
Well people with clean homes have maids.
NO, they wash their dish after eating!
In Regards to Writing
Often we writers can fall into similarly skewed thinking when it comes to our profession. We have a flawed perception of what a successful author looks like…and this opens the door for the little foxes that spoil the vine.
A successful author would publish her first book and be a runaway success with no social platform.
Noooo, that isn’t an author. That is a unicorn. A tortoise isn’t glamorous, but it is at least real.
In our minds, we can believe that we would do far more writing if we simply had more “time.” Since most of us don’t have the luxury of getting up, having coffee and simply creating all day long, we then fail to invest at all.
We will invest “one day.”
We believe that because we also hold a day job and “only” have an hour to spare in the mornings, that our situation is hopeless. The consequence is we end up squandering the most valuable resource that is available to all living humans.
Why I love books on fiscal responsibility is I hold a core belief:
Small truths reveal larger truths.
If I am not managing, planning and budgeting my money, odds are I am not doing that with my time either. I find that often when I work on habits in one area, other areas also improve. When I zoom in on waste in one area, I become aware of it in others.
If I fail to plan the meals for the week, the consequence is a lot of food I throw away. We end up eating out or rushing to grab a bite because I didn’t put dinner in a crock pot and I am tired and cranky and In-N-Out Burger is just so darn convenient.
The end result is I nickel-and-dime myself $15 and $20 at a time.
When we look at how we are spending our time, are we leaking it away 15 and 20 minutes at a time?
Planning matters. Using time deliberately is vital.
If I fail to plan my time for the week, I’m all over and time goes swirling down the drain. In fact, failure to plan can cost me BIG. For instance, last Tuesday, instead of getting my next day planned I was “tired” and decided that Facebook and watching Dr. Who was preferable to preplanning.
Wednesday morning, I was in the middle of working and feeling great about my progress.
OMG! Spawn’s camp has a field trip today! I totally forgot! And they leave in 20 minutes!
In a mad rush, I swooped the one remaining Lunchable into a Sprout’s bag so I could dash like a crazy person to get him there in time for the bus.
In my haste, I unknowingly threw my cell phone in with his lunch.
That three-second mistake (that could have easily been prevented with ten minutes prep work the night before) cost me an entire day and easily ten years off my life from stress.
A three-second error cost me four hours hysterically hunting for my phone and then two more hours at Sprint replacing the missing phone with a new phone. Then when the school found my phone? It cost me another two hours returning the new phone I didn’t need and reactivating the old one.
And a $35 restocking fee, or what I fondly refer to as a Stupid Tax.
How much writing could I have accomplished with only ten minutes of preparation the night before?
How Much Stupid Tax Are We Paying?
When it comes to time, boundaries go a long way. Now, I’m no proponent of cramming activity into every waking second. But we can start truly seeing our days instead of merely wandering through them as bystanders.
Just as many of us hemorrhage money through tiny holes and unseen leaks, the same could be said of our time. But not being stupid with time is not the same thing as being wise with it, either.
Are We Investing Wisely?
Many people believe when they have money, they will invest money. But if we take a closer look, those who have money, have it because they invested it.
Not the other way around.
Many writers new to the profession see building a brand and a social media platform as a wasteful use of time because they don’t yet have a books to sell. Problem is, in this publishing climate, trying to build a platform after the book is almost a formula to fail. They will spend valuable time (later) that could have been used to write more books and better books scrambling to claw sales from the ether.
They believe they don’t have time, and yet a really strong brand/platform is rather simple to build over time with small and consistent investments in the right places.
Where to Invest?
Instead of investing an hour a day on Facebook and Twitter, could I spend that on building an author blog? Being an expert tweeter does nothing to improve my skills as a writer. Facebook content can’t be eventually harvested for a book (that can make money or be used as a loss leader/promotional tool). Search engines will never direct new fans to my author site with my clever Instagram pics.
So instead of feeling overwhelmed that we don’t have
an entire Gucci wardrobe a bazillion SnapChat fans, can we be patient and consistent with our small IRA account blog that we know with time and consistent investing will reap amazing returns?
This is a snapshot of my blogging stats. WP didn’t even bother measuring my first two years because they were too small to register. In 2009 I had roughly 6,900 views. By 2013, a half a million.
Though looking at raw numbers, my overall traffic has gone down over the last couple of years but numbers can be deceiving. In 2010 I published a total of 95 posts and received 62,000 visits. This year I generated over 220,000 visits with only 60 posts, meaning I am doing more with less.
I’m gaining an advantage of compound interest (archives and following) which frees me up to now finish more books because now my blog is doing far more work for me than it did at the outset when I was new.
That was great because we’ve had a horrible couple of years with illnesses and death and it has taken a toll on how much I could physically do.
But the cool thing was, because I invested what little energy I had in a blog, my brand not only remained in tact, it actually grew much larger even though I wasn’t there to micromanage content (like I would have had to on all other social media sites).
The effort I could continue was effort that would pay dividends. When I had Shingles, I wasn’t tweeting a lot, but by gum I could post a blog. Now that I have weathered these storms and am back writing like a mad person, I don’t have to waste time reclaiming lost territory.
My blog is strong and so is my brand. Now to get my @$$ in gear on the books.
Because books can do the same thing. Most authors who make a good living aren’t banking everything on the sale of one book. They are investing their time and focusing it on multiple titles.
If we are focused, can we spend an hour a day on the novel. Just one hour. Instead of waiting for the magical, mystical tomorrow, can invest that today?
What are your thoughts? Are you happy you don’t have to try to be a unicorn? Do you find yourself buying into popular myths about what’s required to write novels (I.e. eight hours uninterrupted time)? Do you feel guilty because you aren’t on every single social media site? Are you relieved to know that is actually a bad plan? 😀 Are you leaking small amounts of time away and they are adding up big? I bet you’ve never put your cell phone somewhere stupid 😀 .
Are you actually excellent at managing your time and have tips to share?
***Btw, I do actually have a blogging class coming up 😉 .
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of AUGUST, 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. 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).
Check out the other NEW classes below!
All W.A.N.A. classes are on-line and all you need is an internet connection. Recordings are included in the class price.
Blogging for Authors (August 26th) will teach you all you need to know to start an author blog good for going the distance. Additionally I would also recommend the class offered earlier that same week (August 22nd) Branding for Authors to help you with the BIG picture. These classes will benefit you greatly because most blogs will fail because writers waste a lot of time with stuff that won’t work and never will and that wastes a lot of time.
I am here to help with that 😉 .
Hooking the Reader—Your First Five Pages August 12th
The first five pages are the most essential part of the novel, your single most powerful selling tool. It’s how you will hook agents, editors and readers. This class will cover the most common blunders and also teach you how to hook hard and hook early. This class is 90 minutes long, 60 minutes of instruction and 30 minutes for Q&A.
Your First Five Pages Gold Level
This includes the webinar and a detailed critique your first five pages.
Your First Five Pages Platinum Level
This includes the webinar and a detailed critique of your first twenty pages.
All fiction must have a core antagonist. The antagonist is the reason for the story problem, but the term “antagonist” can be highly confusing. Without a proper grasp of how to use antagonists, the plot can become a wandering nightmare for the author and the reader.
This class will help you understand how to create solid story problems (even those writing literary fiction) and then give you the skills to layer conflict internally and externally.
Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist Gold
This is a personal workshop to make sure you have a clear story problem. And, if you don’t? I’ll help you create one and tell the story you want to tell. This is done by phone/virtual classroom and by appointment. Expect to block off at least a couple hours.
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.