Doughnut day again! Fridays are the best! Shannon here.
Before I forget, NEXT WEEK Go Teen Writers is hosting a Word War. We're hoping it will give a boost to those of you doing Camp NaNo and will encourage all of us to write our way through the summer. I'm excited and I hope you are too. The war begins on Monday!
Now back to our . . .
Today's question is a good one. Stephanie, Jill and I will give you our answers and I hope you'll chime in with yours in the comments section. Here goes:
What skillset is undervalued in the author's life?
Discipline. There’s this archaic idea that authors are all drunks who stumble around waiting for inspiration. And while that may happen in some circles, that has not been my experience with authors. Every author I know who consistently pumps out stories, is very disciplined about their writing. They work hard at their craft and they want to produce something of great quality. Inspiration is talked about a lot, and it’s so important. But that discipline thing? It’s undervalued.
I would have said “discipline” if Shan hadn’t already. So I’ll say business savviness. All writers (or almost all writers) get into writing because they love it, not because they’re trying to start a small business. Yet that’s what it means to be a published author. You are now a small business with a product that needs to be sold and marketed, taxes that need to be done, and various other businessy tasks. The ability to embrace being a creative and being a business owner is huge in determining a writer’s success.
I want to say “respecting your dream,” but I’m pretty sure that’s another way of saying discipline. Still, I’ll explain what I mean. When I first started writing, I thought I knew everything. I thought my half-written story was going to sell for a million dollars. I had made a lot of assumptions about what it took to write a book, so when I pitched to an agent for the first time and he rejected me, I was flabbergasted. After a good cry and several hours of honest reflection, I came to realize that I had not respected my dream of being a writer. To compare, I had respected my dream of becoming a fashion designer. I had been designing and sewing my own clothes since I was in junior high. I had studied fashion history and the lives of famous designers by reading books on their lives and watching documentaries. I had learned to draw and sew more complex things and create patterns. I went to college for fashion and graduated with a degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. I worked in the industry, earning several promotions and raises. I started my own wedding gown business in which I designed and sewed a line of better wedding gowns, took my line to the Chicago Bridal Market, and had pictures of them in Bride’s Magazine. When it came to fashion, I knew my stuff.
Not so with writing. I’d written half a book and daydreamed that I was a natural and would be paid millions of dollars for a few months’ effort. Pretty sad, huh? But this is a common tale. So many people think writing a book is easy. It’s not. If you want to be a writer, respect that. Put in the time to learn about the industry and the craft of writing. Practice by writing a million words. Only then should you start worrying about selling those words.
How about you all? What skillset do you believe is undervalued in the author's (or writer's) life?