I find myself in a busy world these days—inundated with social media postings from bloggers, writers, artists, and editors, each producing a cornucopia of literary advice, instruction, grammar interpretation, structural nuance, and personal opinion on what makes for successful writing.
The gospel goes something like this—the reader should cry, laugh, feel, relax, and identify—the characters need to be wise, real, likable, and flawed—the settings are either not important, or definitely important—writers must be aware of the rules regarding grammar, pace, mood, logic, structure, etc., and know which ones to break.
Some I consider useful, others not so much. They often contradict each other as to method and device. Up to now, I’ve read numerous postings, hoping to find new and informative material, but there just isn’t very much new stuff out there.
Writers use social media to promote/sell their books and provide me with another plethora of familiar postings: buy, read, follow, order, comment, engage, and review, all spiced with jokes, recipes, and memes. They’re willing to sell, trade, or simply give their books away in return for any of the above.
It can take me substantial time to read and/or respond to all the various online activity. Spending several hours on these postings, when I should be writing can be very frustrating. I dearly love all my followers, friends, and fellow bloggers, but sometimes, I need time to write. I haven’t yet thrown my phone through a window, or yanked the computer cord from the wall, but I’ve been close.
The one important thing I’ve learned from my digital experience is to restrict my own postings. I try to keep my book promotion limited to special sales or information that will be advantageous to readers. My blogs are not scheduled, and I only write one, when I have something to say.
Another investment of time, money, and energy involves local promotional events. I attend numerous readings, and book launches. Supporting my friends and local writers is very important to me, and I do want them to succeed. I feel keeping up with a social life geared to the literary and arts community is not only enjoyable, but also important. But then again, the amount of involvement can become too much.
I decided several years ago, when I started writing full-time, I would only work through traditional publishers. I understood completely the patience and professionalism that goal requires. The queries and subsequent rejections don’t bother me. They’re simply a part of the process. I know success takes time, and I can be very patient. To get the agents and publishers I want, I need to build publishing credits, have a positive author platform, and at the same time, hone my skills to razor-sharp.
As most of you know, I’m a retired accountant. An important part of any business transaction is controlling costs. I got in the habit years ago, of doing cost/benefit calculations for personal ventures, and writing is no exception. Sometimes, I have trouble finding continued benefit in expending this amount of time and effort on social events and media postings. The principle of “Opportunity Cost” – the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action – becomes the issue.
The desire to evolve has become very strong. My instincts tell me I need to take the next step, and spend more time writing and less time worrying about social media and local activities. I think I’ve reached that point where my writing has come into its own, a time when it no longer needs constant, endless advice. I believe my online presence is sufficient to provide a relatively solid Author Platform.
In 2013, I drew up plans and set my goals. They amounted to where I wanted to be in one year, two years, five years, etc. Too much activity both online and locally, a surprise publication, and serious personal issues drove me off course, and I’m NOT where I’m supposed to be at this point. I need to make some adjustments to get back on track.
Planning is about taking responsibility for what you become, how you proceed, and when you accomplish each goal. Any plan should systematically move from POINT A, the starting point, to POINT B, the desirable goal with in a specific time-frame. No one can reach Point B, if they don’t know what it is, where to find it, or how to get there. Wandering aimlessly is a terrible waste of time and talent. I’m fully aware of the importance of my responsibility to know my destination.
Every writer needs a solid plan, and must be able to visualize what they intend to accomplish – how they plan to succeed. Heading anywhere, even with a detailed map, or the most effective GPS, is useless, if you don’t know where you’re going.
I know it’s time for me to evolve to the next level. I need to write, unhindered by other voices. I need to follow my own instincts, and reach each goal, large or small, within my specific time-frame.
I’m confident in my abilities, possess a solid drive to succeed, and can push through difficulties with a positive attitude and enthusiasm. I’ve never been afraid of hard work. I’m ready to jump into the next stage of my development as a writer.
Do you have a plan for your writing career?
Does it work for you?
Are you on track or wandering?
Is it time for you to evolve to that next level?