Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hello, Reality. You Bugger, You.

As I have often mentioned, I took a while to write "Strong Enough."  For weeks, sometimes months, and at one point, for years, I didn't write. The reasons varied but the ultimate why was a lack of discipline. However, the book was always percolating in the back of my mind. That was part of my process.

Blogger after blogger, some professional writers and others who have been in the game for a while, discuss the problematic truth that most authors aren't very good at promoting themselves. We want to write. In a room. Without interruptions. It's one of the reasons why the traditional publishing model worked so well--except for that whole being the author-needle in the slush pile and/or compensation percentages. Now we have to do it all if we want it all (or until we can afford to delegate to others). 

This isn't a complaint. In fact, I think more hands-on is good. But there's no taking a break and coming back later. Promotions and marketing are a daily requirement. And each day is different. I've barely been operating at this level of intensity but I'm proving myself out of shape. Tenacious, yes, but I'm trying to catch up without the benefit of training.

I'm not saying anything new. Writers tell the newbies this every time they're asked for insight and advice - you thought you worked hard before? Now you're really going to work. Because now, you have to write the next book while marketing the current. It just keeps multiplying.

I've read a few blog posts with advice from other authors. For the most part, it's the usual participation pith--Write! Believe! Edit again and again! But the fact is, the hard part of being a writer is the tenacity it takes to do the same thing over and over until finally, something starts to work. Isn't there a saying about doing anything repeatedly while expecting a different outcome? Yeah, well clearly that person never wrote books.

One bit of advice hit home, though. And that is, don't expect to quit your day job anytime soon. Yes, I know this is standard for the writerly advice regimen. But that's why repetition works so well for us. Certain truths have more merit at different moments. 

Starting from the bottom of a large heap of competitors, we all use different tricks to motivate ourselves. Regularly, we get too amped up on the enhancer called "Imagine!" One powerful steroid-like vision is the promise to write full-time. This is a good, honest desire, but sometimes, you have to change the treat. Sometimes, you have to envision the daily toil it takes, day in and day out, month after month, year after year, to finally reach that ideal moment emblazoned with the word "Success!"

You have to embrace the repetition of marketing and promotion. You have to incorporate it into your established practice of writing, challenging your mental flexibility with new moves. This is the moment that separates the dabblers from the people who write as a part of living.