Last week, I read a thought-filled blog on Writers Unboxed – Tearing Our Passions to Tatters by Porter Anderson.
Initially, I simply sat and stared at that title for a moment before I could continue reading. Anything written by Porter is well worth reading but Tearing Our Passion to Tatters was poetically perfect. My passion for writing was in shreds.
After reading, I was relieved….or, more accurately, reassured that someone had articulated the frustration deep inside me.
I can’t do justice to the entire blog. Please do yourself a favor and read it for yourself. But, for the sake of my commentary, here is a snippet:
Within a couple of generations’ spans, we are the first humans who can cover-to-smithereens our news events the way we do. (Thank you, digital.) And within that same time period, our creative people have become exposed to a remarkably deep, seductive capability online to talk about, talk about, talk about, talk about the work…instead of doing it.
When I decided to switch to Indie publishing, I knew the learning curve would be steep. I took time off from writing to absorb tons of information – book formatting, copyrights, bookseller contracts, uploading to booksellers, ISBNs, author platform, marketing, promo, author website designs, SEO, Excel sales spreadsheets, and much more. Did I need to learn everything? No, I could have hired someone to do some of the work so I could continue writing. But I must comprehend as much as possible to decide what I need versus what I want. Handing over control without full understanding leaves me confused and (usually) paying to redo or add elements I had not considered, such as re-loading a book to a bookseller after I add information about new books.
The problem is the endless learning process.
I have fallen into an obsessive compulsive addiction to the latest news in the publishing. I know there must be a line and I have definitely crossed it. I skim dozens of blogs and business articles. I “Click & Share” about ten percent of what I read. I edit my own industry e-newspaper, The Gillian Doyle Daily, that curates content from across the internet. Yes, I suppose that makes me another info-dealer to other addicted authors. But this also my solution to following my favorites (including Porter Anderson) by pulling them into a central location to read throughout the day, solving at least one of my issues with writing-related time-management versus the actual act of writing.
Don’t get me wrong. I am glad I put in the time to learn. I am grateful for all the information available now.
But I feel like I’m on a carousel spinning out of control. I want to stop and get off for a while.
I want to ignore the marketing gurus advising me to maintain high visibility on social media. (That does not mean pimping my books.) I want to kick my Klout score to the curb. I want to forget about my Discoverability Quotient.
But I’ve invested too much effort to lose momentum now.
On the flip side, too many of my author-friends seem to be still living in the days when bookmarks and book signings were their primary promo. They don’t want to deal with the reality of the author platform today. They don’t want to know about using Pinterest and Instagram for their PR. They aren’t interested in updating their website, if they even have one. Forget about ads with Bookbub or Facebook, let alone Google analytics or Search Engine Optimization. I’m not saying they must do all of these things, but they should learn what is available so they can make the best choices for their own careers.
I strongly believe that writers not keeping up with the industry will not have writing careers in five years. This is not to say they must spend all of their time reading “how-to” articles or posting on social media. Find balance. Choose what can be done without sacrificing writing time.
As Porter pointed out – “What if you stopped thinking you had to read more, comment more, engage more, and instead wrote more?”
Writing must come first.
So, instead of stopping the carousel, I’ll slow it down. Waaay down.
And mend my tattered passion.