The Business and Passion of Writing

This week’s thought-provoking question is by Ruth:

We all know that the publishing world is changing.  The big New York publishers are fading fast and electronic books are the future.   An author must become an expert in social media and spend endless hours on self promotion. Writing has become a small business. My question is: Why bother?  What drives you to keep on writing? 

PAM: I write because when words flow from my fingertips and a brand new world appears across a white page–little black symbols that trigger images in the minds of others, so close to the visions those squiggly lines created in my own head that we all enter the same world–it completes me.

I write because it’s my God-given talent.

I write because I don’t want to take Prozac and drinking makes me puke. (www.pamelafoster.blogspot.com)

RUTH: To conjure a character from the shadows of my mind, to breathe life into him/her or even it, to gaze in wonder as my fingers fly across the keyboard typing out their thoughts, hopes, and fears, to empathize with their faults, to excuse their behavior, to know they trust and have chosen me to bring their story to life to share with all mankind, is not only a great honor but creative magic at its best.

Thousands of people say writing a novel is on their bucket list but very few realize that dream.  Storytelling is easy.  Writing is hard work.  It’s commitment.  Dedication.  Endless hours of agonizing over the exact word or phrase that expresses my characters’ emotions and actions.  But the reward, the feeling of accomplishment, the thrill of holding that published book in my hand with my name as author in bold font, to be able to say, “I did it!” and to know I made a dream come true. These are some of the greatest feelings in the world.

And that’s why I bother. (www.truthsbyruth.blogspot.com)

JAN:  For me, writing is both a selfish act and a giving act. Anyone who knows me knows that I am kind of reserved by nature. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t have the same feelings that someone who’s more demonstrative and gregarious might have. Love, hate, passion, evil, temptation, regret, envy . . . every human emotion. Writing is and always has been, my way of expressing myself.

I used to write in journals, until they were discovered and read. Now, I write fiction. It is a way for me to create characters who are tiny parts of my innermost feelings, fully-developed on paper. The creation sometimes is and sometimes is not, my sharing a piece of who I am. The reader can decide which it is. Even in my writing, I sometimes hesitate to express a feeling through my characters. But, when I do, and when someone thinks, “I understand,” or “I’ve been there,” it’s like my soul has connected with another.

It’s true that writing is a small business, and it’s terribly distracting because I love the building a platform via social networking. Honestly, I’d social network even if I didn’t have to build a platform–that’s the problem. It takes me away from my writing. But today, this is one of the challenges any writer who wants to “get her work out there” must face. (I discuss this challenge more in my blog post, “My New Writer Space.”)

A writer must not only be creative, but disciplined. It brings to mind one of my favorite quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh: “No mud, no lotus.”

LINDA: There are several reasons I bother with writing. First, because it is cathartic to create worlds that contain the same frustrations and disappointments as I feel, and then give solutions. Being an inspirational writer, it is my hope that somehow I can connect with my readers and perhaps encourage them, maybe even give an idea for solutions to help them in “their real world.”

Secondly, I love social networking! I love people. And it is also great research. I note how different people think and express themselves. So I consider it a part of my creative process. Some in the social networking world may wind up in my novels.

Finally, it is a small business. But it is that for everyone. Even Steve Berry. I spent time with him and his wife Elizabeth. They are constantly working the business and the social networking world. STEVE BERRY! One would think his publisher would do it all, and of course Ballantine Books does a lot. But Liz and Steve do too. So if they do, how much more should I?  (www.daydreamonpaper.wordpress.com)

CLAIRE: That Dixie comes up with some hard-hitting questions. Why bother with social media? What drives you to keep on writing? I have a contemporary romance (Redneck Ex by Claire Croxton—The Wild Rose Press) on the market at the moment and another, Santorini Sunset coming out in May. I can’t tell you how frustrated I was when I started working on my third romance. It seemed like every time I started to write, I’d get sidetracked by social media—Facebook posts, blog entries, Twitter feeds, etc. I cursed all technology and vowed to go back to writing with a chisel and stone tablets. Then, I started watching my sales ranking on Amazon. That really opened my eyes.

When my book was released, the sales were pretty good. After a couple of weeks, sales started slacking off. One of the wonderful authors at The Wild Rose Press asked me to do an interview for her blog. The day that interview came out, my sales ranking rose. Sure, it wasn’t in the top 100 in romance sales, but it was pretty high. I was thrilled and my loathing of social media lessened. Sure, it’s tedious and time consuming, but it really does make a difference in sales and getting your name out there so new readers can discover you.

As for the writing part, if I won the lottery and had enough money to buy that castle in Scotland I have my eye on, I’d still write. It’s what I do. Those stories are inside me and they have to get out. I’ve dabbled in writing my entire life. It took me way too long to get to the point where I actually pursued it seriously. Now that I’ve done that, there’s no turning back. I love it. It feeds my soul and I’m hooked.  (www.clairecroxtonromanceauthor.wordpress.com)

We’d love to read your comments about why you write, and how you balance the business side of writing with the passion of writing.

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20 thoughts on “The Business and Passion of Writing

  1. I continue to write because I love being astonished every time my characters do something unexpected. I write because I enjoy discovering every aspect of the story. I love to see the details of the scene come live. I love seeing the dialogue develop between the characters. I love discovering aspects of history that I can incorporate into my stories.
    But I love interacting with people too. I like to read what others write about themselves. I like putting myself out there online. I enjoy being around people in the real world too. Social media can help me find balance to my solitary lifestyle as a writer. I can write for a while, and then get on Facebook or my blog and “visit” with people I know and connect with people I don’t know. I recognize that there has to be a balance between the two.

  2. Love it. I write because I like to entertain. As for balancing writing and social media, I don’t. I’m either in writing or marketing mode. Might be different if I had 40 extra hours per week to devote to it.

    • And you do entertain, Mike! I like what you said about either or on writing versus marketing. I need to split my week into writing days and marketing days, so I can focus on each. Thanks!

  3. You gals have expressed what many of us find in our thoughts and our lives. (There’s comfort in this companionship!) Only thing about social networking – – yes, it can be enjoyable, but it is also a huge time stealer. (Even from important family interaction.)

  4. I didn’t want to do the “build a platform” thing until I saw your presentation at the workshop. I’m convinced. I’ve been plugging away at it, and while I don’t have a published work to know if I’ll see an increase in sales from it, I can say that I’m learning a lot from doing it. The interaction has been quite beneficial. Yes, it does take time away from the craft of writing, but it also makes the art of writing stronger if you learn from your peers, so there is a good chance that when you sit down to write, the time will be better spent and you haven’t lost as much time – as much quality time – as you thought. Thanks ladies!

    • I’m glad we convinced you, Staci. The thing is, writers need to realize it can take years to really build your platform, so it’s a good idea to get started even before you have anything published.

  5. Great comments here. Loved that Linda Apple uses social networking as research and some of the people she cyber meets may end up as characters! Why hadn’t I thought of that?

    Claire, your line about loathing technology and wanting to go back to writing with chisel and stone made me laugh. I so agree at times.

    I’m a marketer by profession so while I understand its importance, I also resent the time it takes away from my writing. Before the release of my picture book, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE?, I decided I’d spend three months solely on promoting it, book signings, and so on. And I did. I still market it but not quite as heavily. I want to get onto my next picture book and get my novel out there! This balancing act is tough and tedious.

    http://banterwithbeth.blogspot.com

    • Thanks for commenting, Beth. You know first hand not only the importance of marketing, but the distraction of marketing. It’s hard to be really good at it, without getting distracted by it!

    • Unfortunately, Beth, you have to have a WordPress blog to “reblog” it. The only other way I know of to do it on Blogger is to post a link. I guess that’s one of the goodies that WordPress has that Blogger doesn’t. But thanks for asking! 🙂

  6. Sometimes I feel compelled to denounce the social marketing aspect, because everyone else is doing that… but if I’m honest with myself, I really enjoy that part of my writerly life. I write because I like to. It doesn’t matter to me whether I’m composing a blog post or an essay or working on a story. When I have a deadline to meet, as I do now (a real one for a short story) and my own imposed deadline for my novel, I make sure to dedicate enough time to do what I need to do toward those ends. So, rather than jump on the wagon, I’m just going to embrace the part of me who loves to network. I also love photography and indulge in that quite often, too, and have even found a way to work it into my writing life as well.

    • It’s nice when life has a sense of balance, isn’t it. I’m not as good at that as you. The way I write brings to mind words like obsession and addicted and possessed.
      You do the social networking thing so well, Madison, it’s obvious you enjoy the time you spend on this part of writing.

  7. Pingback: Steve Berry « My Berriesfarm

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