In my last post I talked about planning, and a little about what works for me. Along with a clear plan, that includes a structured schedule for writing/editing/publication, and goals for six months, one year out, and five years out, as a writer setting out on this journey, you must adapt to a spirit of looking forward.
The books that are currently trickling a few dollars here and there into my coffers were written anywhere from six years ago to a year ago. What I’m working on now will make me money later. I’m building the library that will be my living. But the pressure on my work today is just to dig in, enjoy the work, and constantly produce new writing by writing what I love. What I write today does not pay the bills today. And that doesn’t matter, it’s just how this creative life is played.
Today you write for you. Not to pay the bills. For you. For the sheer joy of it. That’s the creative side of this venture, and it’s what most of us are in it for…so for goodness sake ENJOY IT.
I’ll give an example from my own history, and my own present, actually. 🙂
I write in two genres, but neither of the series I’ve published is easily defined. Defining your work is a rather large part of selling books. That’s one of my goals, of course — to sell some copies of this work I’ve put my heart, sweat, and love into.
This is where it’s helpful to look forward. I love both genres I’ve written series in. I want to build audiences in each, with some amount of crossover between them. I have multiple strategies for doing so, and most revolve around the order in which I’ll write future series, especially over the next couple of years. I need to get to where I have two or three series complete and multiple short stories in each genre. That’ll likely take me another two years to three years. In two years, I can really start to work on building an audience for my work in each genre, in ways that are more comfortable for me than active advertising.
In other words, for the next two years writing/editing/publishing new work will take up almost all of the time I can devote to my writing career. I will not focus on active promotion. I will try to ignore sales, and get my butt in the chair to write as much as possible. I will refuse distractions, and think of where I want to be at the end of those two years. I start to get all zingy when I go there, because I love to write, and I can’t wait to have more books available. I can’t wait to keep bringing new stories out, even when I have a solid and varied backlist to rely on.
The pressure on what I’m writing at this moment goes down with every additional publication. It’ll be super fun when it takes new readers more than a couple of weeks to get through my backlist when they find me. 🙂
It might also be profitable. I’ll leave that for the future.
As you continue to produce stories, to build your backlist and tweak your publication schedule as brilliant ideas strike, don’t pressure yourself with the dollars and cents. You won’t make money with your writing for years after first publication. If you do, you’ve struck gold, and that’s awesome, but unlikely to happen twice. You’ll still need to build a solid backlist if you want to make a regular income, and it will take years…and now you have the pressure — internal and external — of beating the success of that first book. This isn’t long-term thinking…and it isn’t going to help you be both joyful and productive with your writing. I believe you need to be both of these things to make a success of a writing career over the long term.
Keep working toward that future you envision.
Don’t lose time to momentary distraction.
Embrace the creative aspect of this work for itself.
And keep on looking forward.
For a full list of Own Your Writing Career posts in the order they were written, visit my Writers page. I’ll be back with another Own Your Writing Career post next Thursday. Until then, happy writing!!
“Own Your Writing Career: Always Looking Forward” copyright © 2015 by J.R. Pearse Nelson