Several years ago, David Handler gave a talk to aspiring writers at the inaugural Writers Weekend at the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut. David is a successful author who has been writing for decades. Inevitably in such a setting, someone asked about his writing life. David replied that he spent the morning writing and the afternoon working on his small business.
“What’s your small business?” someone else asked.
“Being an author,” he replied. He explained that in the afternoon, he routinely dealt with the business end of writing, including communications with his agent and his editor, correspondence with readers, and planning talks just like this one.
I don’t know who said this, but in my opinion, it is the single most brilliant statement ever made about marketing, sales, and/or publicity.
Obviously, people in other sectors can substitute whatever product or service they like in place of “book,” but the principle stands. In fact, these days, it races around in my head like a deranged chipmunk.
If I were to conduct a scientific survey of the reasons people who say they want to be writers don’t write, I’ll bet that this would be #1. There are plenty of others—family and work would likely rank as #2 and 3–but as often as not, I imagine those would be tied into #1.
It doesn’t help that books and articles routinely bombard the poor time-deprived writer with advice that seems impossible to follow. In predictable, frustrating, and often sanctimonious fashion, nearly all of them proclaim the same thing: Writers write. If you want to be a writer, you must find or make the time to write.Continue reading →