Choose Your Pain—Hobbyist vs. Professional Author
This blog focuses mainly on those writers who desire to make a living writing fiction. Last post, The Single Best Way to Become a Mega-Author garnered an interesting comment, though not an unusual one.
Anytime I write one of my posts regarding success or sales or being a best-seller, inevitably I get the “What about just enjoying writing?” comment.
And the observation is a valid one, though one I don’t always think about because, to me, writing never feels like work, though in truth, it is REALLY hard work. I work longer and harder now than I ever did in my years in sales.
It just never seems that way.
Hobbyist Versus Pro
This blog, at least when we are referring to craft, applies to anyone who wants to write good stories. The hobbyist, however, is different. This person is not creating a commodity.
The work produced is solely for the personal enjoyment of the creator and if it fulfills that purpose, it really doesn’t matter if there is no plot, 42 different POVs and so much purple prose one might choke on all the metaphors.
Yet, the second we want to command time and money from another person to read our work, our job description changes. Sure at home we might have a habit of drowning a hamburger in weird condiments, but if we were serving that to others (I.e. our restaurant)? We’d need to be mindful that maybe other people don’t want Nutella on a burger (yes, people eat that, I googled it).
Additionally someone who whips off fan fiction or stories in their free time is not beholden to the business end of what we do. They don’t need to know about branding or social media or marketing or newsletters. Since this blog caters to those who wish to make money at this? All of that is vital.
Go Big or GO HOME
Now I will admit that I have big, okay, mega dreams. I am not Type A, rather Type A+ because I did the extra credit assignments.
In my mind if I shoot for the stars I might just hit the moon. I always aim big because I imagine that if I adopt the habits of a mega-author that can only turn out well. This means I read tons of books, I study, I inhale craft books and blogs.
I study other authors and I write and write and write. I write every day. I adopt good habits and self-discipline and in some way—even if I fall short of every being Nora Roberts—it’s still a pretty solid formula to do well at my craft and business.
Additionally, notice how much of my hard work incorporates things I already enjoy (ergo WHY I left sales and became a writer). As a writer, I should enjoy reading and watching movies and studying story. I should enjoy writing and revising and getting better and if I don’t? Houston, we have a problem.
Yet, your dreams are your dreams and not everyone wants to break records or re-imagine entire genres. Not everyone has the want or ability to write four books a year.
So…don’t 😀 .
Take what applies and scale the rest. Only YOU know your goals and dreams.
But About ENJOYING Writing
As I mentioned earlier, most of what we do as professional authors should already be enjoyable. Not to be a b%$#, but if you hate reading and never read? I don’t want to read your books. As wise woman once said…
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
I know that many writers groan and mention social media. Again, if social media is a chore, perhaps what is flawed is the approach not the medium. Social media done the way I teach it at least, should be very much in tune with the creative personality.
I left sales (actually ran away screaming) so when I wrote a social media book for authors, I deliberately crafted an approach that harnessed the creative personality.
It is your creativity and imagination that sells books, not acting like an Amway rep genetically crossed with a Jehovah’s Witness. Additionally, if your social media is leaving no TIME left for the most important aspect of the job—writing MORE BOOKS—then it is flawed. If you’re hating your social media, treat yourself to a copy of Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World 😉 .
But moving on…
Two Truths About Enjoyment
#1 Choose Your Pain
Life is pain. Yeah I am just a bundle of sunshine, but seriously, it is. Every aspect of life has pain. For instance, there is the pain of having children. My house is messy all the time. I cannot sit down without nearly ending up with a Hot Wheels suppository *checks couch before plopping down*. LEGOS? O….M…G.
Instead of having frou frou soaps, you know, like this…
I use THIS….
I have to stop my writing to answer questions like, “Can a porcupine kill you?” or “How long can you go without peeing before you die?” or “How many people die in a day?”
****Yes, Spawn is morbid. He’s a born writer.
Before being a mother, I can honestly say no one asked me these things. I could eat without having to guard my French fries prison style, holding my fork like a shiv.
But, before I was a mother, though I had an immaculate home and could take off traveling any time I wanted…I was lonely. And all in all the pain of having Spawn is light years better than the pain of NOT having him.
Same with writing. I could go get a “real job” where I clocked in and clocked out and had a regular paycheck and benefits but to me? I prefer MY pain. I prefer the pain of blogging and branding and editing and marketing and spreadsheets to the little death of every day in a cube farm. The pain of NOT writing is far worse than the pain of the business of writing.
So whenever we choose to do ANYTHING regarding writing, we simply need to choose our pain. And know there will always be SOME pain. We can’t choose ANY profession that is ALL kittens and unicorns.
#2 Being GOOD is WAY More Enjoyable than SUCKING
When I was six I wanted to learn to play the guitar. My grandparents—not really thinking this through—bought me a guitar, but then provided no lessons. I don’t know what my six-year-old brain was thinking….ok, I lie. I know what I was thinking. I was thinking that somehow when I put my fingers on the strings that it magically would sound like all those Dolly Parton songs I loved.
And don’t get me wrong, I belted out plenty of bad renditions of Jolene (MY POOR PARENTS! Though I imagine any six year old begging a mistress not to take her man is amusing at some level) eventually I grew bored. The guitar then became a light saber and eventually was forgotten.
Because I wasn’t any GOOD, it lost its luster and I could never be as adorable as THIS…
Same with writing in many ways. Sure in the beginning there is the creative abandon of words flowing onto the page and as a pro, it would be nice to have that wild carefree spirit of the blissfully ignorant. But there comes a point that one gets tired of not being able to finish. Of coming up with a great idea for a story and it petering out.
Now? After years and years and YEARS of study and practice? I LOVE WRITING MORE THAN EVER!!!! Why? Because I can finish and when I finish, it is actually GOOD!
Seriously, if you are struggling to finish, invest $35 and two hours and take my Plotting for Dummies (listed below). Even if you never sell books, wouldn’t it be nice to FINISH them?
Getting good at the business is rewarding because selling lots of books…
Wait for it….
Is way more fun than selling NO BOOKS. If you need help, I have super successful best-selling author Jack Patterson who’s making a KILLING off his newsletter teaching a WANA class on how to create a newsletter that actually SELLS books.
So I challenge anyone who reads this blog, even if you don’t ever want to sell books or break records…LEARN YOUR CRAFT. Even if you never sell anything, it will make the hobby so much more enjoyable. And for those who want to sell books? Yeah learning the craft is—or should be—a given.
In the end, if you are not enjoying writing? Either suck it up and admit it is the pain you’ve chosen or reexamine and make sure you’ve chosen the right pain. Maybe we are setting our bar too low and we aren’t happy because we need the challenge of trying to be a mega-author. Maybe we are trying to be a mega-author and it’s just no fun and we’d do better writing novellas or for fun or for just side money.
And remember GOALS CHANGE. My goal was to be a mega-author but the last four years with 12 deaths in the family and all kinds of personal/family troubles, I would (did) make myself sick. I had to ramp it down. Now? Ramping it back up. That is what is cool about goals. We can CHANGE them 😀 .
What are your thoughts? Have you found that NOT sucking is way more fun than sucking? Are you tired of sucking? What kind of pain do you enjoy? Hell you are writers, so by definition—> masochists. So I KNOW you dig pain 😀 .
I LOVE hearing from you guys!
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Also know I love suggestions! After almost 1,100 blog posts? I dig inspiration. So what would you like me to blog about?
Talk to me!
And to prove it and show my love, for the month of APRIL, 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).
I will announce March’s Winner Next Post. I was supposed to do it this post, but I lied. I am still catching up from the storm drama.
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In this class, learn how to compose a newsletter that is entertaining and compelling—and all without stealing most of your writing time. Learn how to get your hooks in your readers and keep them until the end.
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