Saturday, 18 January 2014

Take Your Time

What do you think of the advice that writers should spend 20% of their time writing, 80% marketing what they’ve written?  I would find that soul destroying.  There it is, in a little heap of glittery ash in the shadow of the abacus on my desk – my soul destroyed.  Now that my soul’s gone, what do I have to write about? 

Buy my wares!
Someone who spends 80% of her time marketing is a salesperson.  Writing is her ware.  Fair play to her, her wares will sell.  They may even be good wares.  She might be the one person who can write kick ass prose in two hours, then spend eight more selling them. 

Once upon a time, Irish pipers served a 21 year apprenticeship, starting at age seven and not becoming a master piper before they were 28.  Wow, eh?  Who’s got time for that malarkey?  Well, if you’ve got one minute and one minute only, watch this video:

Those of you in the UK may’ve seen an abridged version of this video with less music and more words as an advertisement on the telly.  I saw this linked version of the video before I saw the ad and to be honest, when the ad starts, my soul goes WHEEEEEeeeeeee . . . ick, because the narrator in the ad starts talking and the video isn’t art anymore but an ad to suck me in, get me to spend my money.  Poop.

I know, I know, I know.  The publishing business is a bitch.  You have to be out there flogging yourself or no matter how much talent you have, you go nowhere.  In fact, I recently read that on average, writers in the UK make about £600 per year.  We’re expected to give our wares away or in some instances, dig in our pockets to pay our own expenses to do author events promoting said wares.  Why would anyone put years into something they give away for free?

If your goal is to be a successful salesperson, then don’t.  Go out there and market to your heart’s content.  That in itself is a worthy skill and be proud.  But don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re actually developing yourself as a writer.  To do that, you have to spend time writing.  Butt on seat, words on page, stares into space, lost sleep, mindless pacing, frustrated self doubts that don’t bend to deadlines, butt back on seat, more words on the page.  Rinse.  Repeat as needed.

One pair of socks, lovingly made.
Life isn’t fair.  That’s what’s real.  Each writer needs to decide for themselves the ratio of marketing to writing.  If you want to market, don’t let me dissuade you.  If you want to write, then take your time, listen to the music of your desire and write.

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