I have been writing how-to advice for writers for 13 years, and given all of the changes in the industry, you might think that I would have rewritten my entire handbook to adapt it for leaner times.
But with the exception of adding advice on micro-publishing to my body of work, none of the rest of the advice I offer has not really changed dramatically.
That’s because it’s still the calm, focused, and grounded writers, who make the most money.
This is true now and this has always been true.
I notice a higher level of desperation among writers outside my circle of students. Everyone has read the latest reports on the industry and now they are panicked and scrambling.
I think writers have some legitimate challenges today that did not exist five or ten years ago. Five or ten years ago, you could go about your freelancing work without a barrage of media pundits telling you how to feel.
In other words, back then, you could actually focus on doing your work and your biggest challenge, perhaps, was too much isolation. Today, things have swung to the other extreme.
You are expected to do your work while keeping up with an ongoing barrage of media coverage about your industry. There is pressure to keep up with all of this coverage, and make the conference circuit, and know everyone who is worth knowing. You should also try every new way of possibly making money, not burn your bridges, and oh, yes, be absolutely charming and wonderful at all times lest you disappoint your readers.
And somewhere in there, you are supposed to actually do your work.
I do not I teach writer to aim for overnight success, how to make millions, how to retire from something called the “rat race,” or any of that nonsense.
But I do teach them how to focus on their own goals, reach them, and earn money in the process over time. And somehow, in all of this hella ballo about publishing, we seem to be losing this.
If you want to weather this particular storm in the publishing industry right now, I can tell you how: set goals, focus on your work, and reach your goals.
I’m sorry it’s so simple. I am sorry I do not have a handy magic formula guaranteed for overnight success to sell unwitting buyers. What I have is old-fashioned, common sense advice that has always worked and always will.
You want to write for money?
Get a mentor, take classes, build skills, establish a portfolio of your work—work your way up just as every writer since the beginning of time has ever done.
Steer clear of overnight success types as much as possible. There are more and more of them every day it seems. I am sorry to say that they are almost always men. And apparently some of them have no ethics or morals, so long as you plonk down your money to buy their book and help get them to the bestseller lists.
Be careful attending writing conferences and joining organizations that support themselves by selling the dream of getting discovered and getting a book published.
Writing a book isn’t a dream; it’s hard work, whether you get published or publish yourself.
These days a writer like Cheryl Strayed is a dramatic exception. Everyone wants to be her, but few are actually willing to do the amount of work she did.
I interviewed Strayed for Writer’s Digest magazine a while back, and sometimes this quote by her is attributed to me:
“Writers are like farmers: the harvest comes, but only after you toil for a few seasons.”
I understand why folks think I said this. It sounds an awful lot like the advice I typically offer live, online, and in my books. And I heartily concur, but let’s make sure that Cheryl Strayed gets the credit for saying it, not me.
If you are looking for inspiration in these tumultuous times, consider how following her own advice has paid off for her.
And then get back to work. If you want to be a part of the future of publishing, there is only one way to get there. And it has not changed and likely never will.
Focus on your goals, hunker down, and get to work!
There’s a lot to learn, sure. And there’s even more to practice. But last time I checked, no one was just handed a profession. They had to earn it. And this has also been the case for every successful writer I have ever met. So stop flailing, and start setting reachable goals and reaching them.
Woo-hoo! We are really making a lot of progress in my new Etsy Shop this summer. And we are having tons of fun doing it.
I love that I can use the Etsy format to take the encouraging things I say to the writers I coach and put them out there for the general public.
And maybe you can’t afford my classes or coaching rates, but you loved my books and writing challenges. If so, you will probably love the inspirational posters in my Etsy Shop.
Print them out and hang them up in your home office or writing space and it’s like having me as your creativity coach 24-7!
And starting today through the end of July, I am offering a buy two, get one free sale on all the posters available in my shop!
You can have me sitting on your shoulder coaching you along the way to more success in no time by shopping in my Etsy Shop, Words, Glorious Words!
Thanks for swinging by and checking it out. I appreciate your shares and favorites.
Have you ever wished you could have someone behind your writing career, who cared about your success almost as much as you do?
If so, you should definitely check out my four levels of Dream Teams that begin August 1st and run through December 30th.
This fall I am celebrating five years of working with my Dream Teams. Time has definitely flown because I have thoroughly enjoyed working with writers on an ongoing basis on all three level teams.
In fact, last winter I added an Essay Writing Dream Team which can be taken by Intermediate and Advanced DT members.
The writers I work with on an ongoing basis are mom writers who are gradually building their skills and growing their writing careers with my ongoing instruction, support, and encouragement.
I have written and shared many tools for building writing career skills, but there is really nothing else like working with me on an ongoing basis.
I high level of trust and respect is something that I have been working on establishing in my teams for the past five years, and I am confident when I say that you cannot experience anything like it elsewhere.
Because there is only one Dream Team experience with me, and it begins on August 1st.
So, what do you say? Don’t you owe it to yourself and to your writing career to actually work with someone who cares about you and your career?
If you have taken Writing & Publishing the Short Stuff, I hope you will join us. If you are planning on it, and you have not registered yet, please register now.
Returning DTers receive a $25 discount the after their first team, because I want to keep coming back and because I love nothing more than working with hardworking writers on an ongoing basis.
Hope to have the opportunity to work with you in a fall Dream Team!
I meant to write this blog post this morning, so I’m just going to go ahead and extend my Etsy Shop sale until noon PST on Monday, July 7th.
As I’ve been figuring things out over on Etsy, I’ve been sharing little bits and pieces with you here and in my e-zine and on social media.
If you’ve been keeping up, you may remember that we have kept the poster prices half-price while we’ve been launching the shop.
And now, finally, tomorrow is the big day. We’ve reached our initial goal of ten posters. So tomorrow at noon the prices will double and all posters will be priced at $4.99 from here on out.
Here’s a little preview of what we’re offering so far. Click here to visit the shop and get your posters at half-price until tomorrow at noon.
But I would be lying if I said that my creative independence and individuality were not important to me.
Sometimes I do things because my gut tells me to, not because it is the popular advice du jour.
Frankly, the amount of advice for writers online has skyrocketed way beyond the over-whelming mark.
I also find scant advice that rolls into my inbox to be all that applicable, helpful or encouraging to me.
So part of celebrating my creative independence and individuality means writing, publishing, and creating in ways that are as immediate and helpful to me as possible.
Often, I find “my work” means stepping back from the status quo and coming up with fresh approaches and messages.
It means carving out a body of work that is “me” in a world of works that are not by me.
It means owning and producing and sharing my words and work as honestly as possible, without worrying if I’m doing it right.
It means forging new paths and exploring new options and playing around with my ideas.
It means making the most of summer hours and family vacation and letting the ideas drive me instead of being the one who drives the ideas.
It means handing over the reins for a bit and letting the creativity write me instead of being the author all the time.
It feels good to let go of have-tos, shoulds, and schedules once in a while. My creative heart craves a break. My mind welcomes a rest. I can let summer envelop me and cradle me in its lazy arms.
If I can sit and daydream and read a book and do nothing without noticing the time, then I know I am succeeding in resetting my creative clock.
I’ll be raring to go in August, if I keep this up.
How about you? Are you taking time to reset your creative clock? Are you inviting in time to daydream? Are you surrendering to life?
Unfortunately impatience can lead writers to be very hard on themselves…and possibly even on others.
But celebrating the success you already have, including how much you enjoy what you do is a good way to make your writing career success multiply.
And that’s why I wrote this chapter from The Writer’s Workout. Hope you enjoy it!Succeed Eventually (Chapter 149, page 153)
If you’re skilled, your wallet will be filled.
~ Yiddish Proverb
No matter how challenging it is to find your momentum as a professional writer, you will know when you have gotten the hang of working in this business.
No matter how many times you have to train yourself not to take either no or silent rejection personally…
No matter how many times you have to catch yourself from slipping into discouraged thinking because you feel like you get one publication forward and two rejections back…
No matter how difficult it is to finally figure out how the shifting playing field works…
No matter how many times an editor you like working with leaves her position just when the two of you have achieved a rapport…
No matter how many times you meet a deadline, get an article proudly in print, and then discover a typo that you are sure you did not include, in what you hoped would make a great addition to your portfolio…
None of your journey is going to be perfect or happen perfectly. And besides, none of us are perfect, either.
No matter what happens throughout the ups and down and the many years of a writing career, the day when you get to the point where you truly feel like a freelance professional is a great day and a big accomplishment.
When you get there, I hope you will take at least a day to celebrate all the hard work that got you where you are.
I hope you will pull out your portfolio, pour over your best work, forgive yourself for less than perfect attempts, and find concrete ways to pat yourself on the back. What- ever you have accomplished thus far, let it be enough.
Have you had a chance to stop by my Etsy shop yet?
If you could click on over and favorite my shop and follow me, I would love it.
It’s called, Words, Glorious Words!
Over the past two weekends, Jason and I worked on a poster together that has been a long-time coming (and then we redid it just to make it take a little longer).
See what you think…
Setting up anything online takes time and energy, so my blog might be a bit slow this summer. But don’t worry, I’m not going to stop inspiring you to grow your writing career. Etsy is just another great way to do it.
Oh, and about the prices. I am committed to keeping my Etsy shop prices super-low until I get at least ten items in my shop. Once I do the prices will go up.
I’m also committed to the idea of my work being available as instant downloads. Eventually I may add shipped prints, but in the meantime, I’m going to focus on instant downloads you can print yourself.
So if you are interested in rock-bottom prices for writing inspiration, please take advantage of these low-low summer prices!
And if you have not had a chance to check out Etsy in general yet, summer is a perfect time to do it. Download the app onto your phone and do some window shopping. I promise you will be inspired.
Happy summer and happy writing!
She even used an exclamation point.
I think the reason I get compliments like this is because helping writers fall madly in love with their writing career is my objective.
It’s also my goal to help writers to fall madly in love with themselves.
Because when you love your work, you can’t help but love yourself a little more.
There seems to be a whole movement out there geared towards teaching writers how to become marketing machines working overtime trying to persuade people to fall in love with them.
That’s backwards. When you love what you do, you are automatically more productive, and your work is automatically more alluring to others.
You should never have to act like a machine. And acting like a machine will only cause you do feel like machine, which doesn’t feel very good.
When you love what you do, you are eager to share your work with others, but not in a pushy, salesy way.
When you love what you do, and you do it consistently, you create more success than the average person.
When you love what you do, you work for love and money. You focus on building a solid foundation for your career and you feel less impatient and greedy than the average aspirant.
When you love what you do, you are perfectly happy with slow and steady wins the race because you are engaged by your work and you feel great about doing it. You don’t mind if it takes a bit longer to get it right because it almost always takes longer than you think it will.
When you love what you do, you know that the cure for the blahs or discouragement or distraction is simply to get a little work done and then everything feels right with the world again.
When you love what you do, you are aiming to build a legacy, not trying to be a one-shot wonder.
When you love what you do, you don’t look towards other people’s value and lust after it. You realize that you already have everything you need within yourself. You recognize that happiness comes from activating your potential and reactivating it on a daily basis.
There are plenty of poor examples out there, my friends. We’ve all seen them with their funnels and their squeeze pages and their long, tedious sales pitches that never cease to invade your inbox.
But just because they exist does not mean that you can’t be a positive, prosperous example of a writer on fire with good intentions and hard work.
Get back to YOUR work. Don’t let other peoples’ agendas throw you off your game. Your writing matters. You matter. We all have so much to offer when we do our own work.
So if you are feeling out of sorts, and like you just don’t have enough success to suit you at this moment just sit down and do a little bit of work that you love. You will become like my dream team participant—overcome with a feeling of personal satisfaction and self-love. And everything will instantly fall back into place in your career.
I am very pleased to announce my latest product and my first inspirational poster for writers.
Introducing the newly updated 52 Qualities of Prosperous Writers poster!
Above is a low-res image of the high-res JPG poster that can be delivered to your inbox for only $2.49.
When you purchase this poster from my Etsy shop, you will receive it in two sizes: 8 x 10 inches and 8.5 x 11 inches.
You can then print your poster onto whatever kind of 8.5 x 11 inch paper you like. For a full bleed, I recommend you use a bright-white matte photo paper and choose the “borderless printing” and “quality” options on your printer.
Once you purchase the poster, you can print as many copies for personal use as you like, but please refer friends and colleagues to my Etsy shop so they can buy a copy of their very own.
Those of you who subscribe to my newsletter may remember how I created this list. I wrote about each of the 52 qualities weekly in The Prosperous Writer newsletter throughout 2010.
Read more about the 52 Qualities of Prosperous Writers poster here, or go ahead and order your copy right now.
I hope you find the 52 Qualities of Prosperous Writers helpful and inspiring for your writing journey!