Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Writing In 2015: Strategy, What Strategy?

Lots of writers work without any work strategy whatsoever. They don't think beyond one book, or in some cases, a single series. They might have toiled over a standalone novel for years before they found a way to finish it, or they might have shaped a solid trilogy and then spent the time to write each one. But, few writers think beyond a few books, if they think beyond a single book. We, writers, don't do well with long-term, career-minded thinking. We're artists after all.

But, writing is more than art. It's a business too. Publishing is a multi-billion dollar industry. Any writer who's been in the business long enough will start to catch clue about things like strategies for thinking beyond the first few books. The long-term professionals have a mind for five years and ten years ahead.  I'm not talking about the bestsellers that get by on a book a year, year upon year. The brand names that everyone case list if asked.

No, I'm talking about the working professionals who write many more books and end up selling at modest numbers over the years. These are the sort that have stayed active at one level or another for decades. They're the prolific ones that have written not just five novels or ten; no, they've written dozens or even hundreds over the courses of their very long and productive careers.

Such writers realized that having a strategy for the sort of work they would be producing could lead to continued success. They had some sort of plan for what amount of writing they wanted to do in a given year and they took the steps necessary to make their "business" goals a reality.

Sometimes, even having a good intentions and a list of the sort books you'd like to write isn't enough. You get caught up in self-defeating patterns of behavior. You avoid writing one book by writing another. And another. Soon, you've got lots of WIPs, but nothing else to show for it. Plus, you feel so far off track you simply stop just to begin an assessment.

That's where I'm at right now.

While I absorbed the business ideas that I talked about above, I became to critical and I lost sight of something just as important. In fact, it's far more important. I forgot about the stories and the love of storytelling. I tried to force a story that just wanted to die. I also gave up on a few others that might have had a better chance at survival. Finally, I avoided finishing bigger stories I'd already started.

So, I stopped writing.

Instead, I'm reading and I'm working on my strategy going forward. I'm giving it some real thought because I want to plot a course that feels right and helps me become a better storyteller. That's what I want more than anything else.

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