When you learn something the first time, it’s a revelation. When you learn it the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th times, it must be something that is very important to know.
Lesson: The most important thing I can do is write.
Corollary#1: Writing centers me.
Corollary#2: Keep writing no matter how busy I am.
Corollary#3: I’m the only one who can make the donuts (i.e. write words on the page).
The Many Hats of Publishing
When you publish, you have to wear many hats: writer, marketer, cover approver, edit wrangler, interviewee, blogger, twitterer, facebooker, networker, fellow writer supporter. (Note: this isn’t just for self-publishing, but all kinds of publishing.) The most important one is writing, because without that bit, the rest is lacking in purpose. No matter how your sales and marketing efforts are going, no matter how many awesome contacts you are making, the most important thing you can do with your time is create the intellectual property that is the under-structure for your writing career.
Writing is the Answer
Stressed about sales? Writing centers me, reminds me why I’m doing this. Crazed with too many blog posts, twitter parties, promotional opportunities? Watching my word count rise helps me know I’m making forward progress, not drowning. Is the book doing fantastically well or abysmally bad? (I get just as stressed when sales are good as when sales are bad; I’m crazy that way.) Writing the next novel reminds me that the book for sale is not the only one I will ever create. Stuck on a plot point or character that simply won’t behave? Writing through it wrestles my doubts into submission.
No matter what the problem, it seems like writing is always the answer.
Don’t Ever Stop Making the Donuts
Every day, you need to make the donuts (I’m seriously dating myself with that phrase!). Every day you need to be writing words, creating intellectual property, doing the work. It’s so easy to forget this, I need bar charts to keep me on track. But writing, like any art, is one of the few businesses that you can’t outsource. You can get someone to make your cover for you; you can hire editors to help you; you can send your MS out to critique partners; but only you can create the story in the first place. You are the first, last, and only person who will see your vision through to words on the page. Every day, I have to do this work – and this becomes more important (not less) as I have more projects in the works.
Sometimes I’m a little thick-headed and need to learn a lesson a couple times.
Hopefully, this time, I won’t forget.
p.s. in other news, Open Minds broke the Top 100 in Science Fiction (squee!).