Watch this one until the very end. Well worth a watch and it will only take a few minutes. Things are changing in publishing, what with Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad with iPublishing. Opportunities and danger, like the old cliché about the Chinese word for crisis.


Done is the engine of more

February 16, 2010

I found this while reading Seth Godin’s new book Linchpin.

If you need a kick in your writer’s pants, here you go.

There are three states of being: Not Knowing, Action and Completion.
Accept that everything is a draft. It helps get things done.
Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
Laugh at perfection. It’s boring and keeps you from being done.
Failures count as done. So do mistakes.
Done is the engine of more.
– Bre Pettis

Jane Friedman, my editor at Writer’s Digest for Write is a Verb, has compiled her best tough love reality slap for those of you who are really serious about being published writers. To paraphrase Betty Davis (who said Old age is not for sissies), writing and publishing are not for wimps.

Get some tough love from Jane and go get published if you (and you work) are up to it:

A year from now

July 13, 2009

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” —Karen Lamb

How many times have I had people tell me they want to write a book “someday?” Many. The only way to write a book is to write it. And the only way to write it is to start and finish it.

A year from now, will you still be saying to yourself and others that you want to write a book someday? If you start today, perhaps next year you could tell someone that you have written a book.

My email is stacking up on the flight deck again. I get hundreds of emails per week. Some percentage of those emails, as I have become more well known, are from supplicants asking me to help them get published. They want me to read their manuscript, give them a blurb, recommend an agent or editor, pass their book along to my agent or editor, collaborate with them on their great book idea, and so on.

I am a kind and generous person, but sometimes I get a little put off by these requests. First, because as one gets even a little well known (and I know I am not that well known at all-I can’t imagine how much more pressed really well known people are with these requests), the number of them increases. Many people are looking for a leg up and you look to be a person who can give them that boost. But if I responded to each of these requests, I would not have much time to get my writing done or to have a life outside of my work.

Second, there is often an off-putting insensitivity in these requests. Some people acknowledge that I must be busy and that if I can’t find my way to help or I am too busy, they will understand perfectly. But others seem to assume I will be happy to take the time to both read their requests and to help them no matter the time it takes or the burden of the request (my agent would be very unhappy if I referred everyone who asked me to to her). These people occasionally express resentment when I do not provide whatever help they expected.

I have had one person seriously request that I read their dissertation in German and tell them if they missed any references to a particular subject I had some expertise on. I have had others ask me to essentially write their class papers on my area of expertise.

Besides not assuming that the person you make a request of will comply, I have a simple suggestion that may serve you well in life. If you want something from someone, give them something of value first, whether it be a compliment, a kindness or some useful information. Establish a relationship.

I have a correspondent who, noticing I like quotations, regularly sends me interesting quotations. I always take the time to read her emails. If she asked me for a favor, I would likely do it because has built up some credit with me (although I wouldn’t read her dissertation in German).

End of rant.

“I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning.” Peter De Vries

If I had waited to write until I was inspired, I would have far fewer books written. I decided to work and wait for inspiration to show up while I was working. Writing, and any creative act, is a funny thing. You are not always inspired and you can’t directly control inspiration. But I find that when I work hard at the craft of writing, the art becomes easier. I am more confident that because I have pulled it off before (that is, completed a book and gotten it published) that I can do it again. And that seems to prime the pump of creativity so that I come up with ideas for books quite regularly. Most working writers I know have more ideas than they have time to write in a lifetime.

So, start working at writing and maybe the Muse will deign to visit you when you are at the writing desk or your computer or the coffee shop or the kitchen table or wherever you write. Once she knows where and when you’ll be there, especially if you develop regular habits, she is more likely to know where to find you.