Dreamers vs. Doers: Some Advice

According to www.numberof.net the number of E-books available is over ten million plus.  Add in the number of aspiring authors who are in the process of writing a book + many more millions.  Then there are the people who say someday they would like to write a book = everybody else.

Writing a book is a nearly universal dream.  Some measure of dream following does tie into artistic pursuits.  Is dreaming enough?  Is creativity?  In truth, anyone can write a book.  However, writing one people want to read is a different thing.

Why do it at all?  Fame?  Fortune?  If your intent stops there, you might as well stop clicking keys.  That is not going to be enough because those pursuits cannot sustain a writer through rejection, low readership or bad reviews.

How many writers elated by the onset of self-publishing, were not able to see the pitfalls.  It brings with it a sea of publications that readers need to sift through in order to find what they like and it requires we writers wear the new hat of self promoter.

How do you measure success when the bar keeps moving?  The bar will always be set higher.  You will always have to work harder to reach it.  Some days, you’ll just want to hang yourself from that bar.  That’s not an option.  There is no quitting.

Consider this mock job description for a fiction writer, the job we all want:

  • Little or no pay, years of work required, high level of rejection, near guarantee of self-loathing and potential breakdown of key relationships.
  • Side effects:  sleep deprivation, addictions to caffeine and often, other substances.  A writer may begin to feel isolated, take up talking to oneself and have the potential for severe mood swings.  A writer must have a thick skin, a day job and little or no desire to engage in a social life aside from commiserating with other writers.
  • Most of all, a writer must have unwavering patience.

Can you answer this question, with honesty?

What if only one person buys your book?  Will you want to give up?

To me, it depends entirely on what that one reader thought of it.  Did she like it?

Now answer these:  Why do I write?  For whom am I writing?  What do I hope to gain?

Here is some advice I have found useful so far:

#1 Write every day.  This is the best advice you will ever get.  You get better by doing anything, everyday.

#2 Read, whenever you are not writing because there are people who are much better than you are and they can teach you something.

#3 Writing a blog is helpful because it reinforces #1, but it can also be a time suck, have discipline.  Following blogs of others in the industry will help you, but it takes some time to find the best ones for you.

#4 Joining a writers group will help you overcome some of your fears and likely give you some new ones.  You will learn to take criticism or you will quit.  At least you will make some new friends who are writers and be able to talk about being in a writers group and feel important.

#5 Writers conferences are beneficial if you go with specific goals in mind.  They are also about business and cost money.  It helps to have a plan, a real job or a wealthy beneficiary.

#6 Literary magazines are full of advice and stories about successful writers.  Some days you will find them inspiring, some days you find them depressing.  These publications are in business to make money and want to sell you books, advice, webinars and earn contest and subscription fees.  Some of this may also be helpful.  I find that advice tends to get recycled and since magazines are not interested in making you famous you are better off spending your time on #1.

#7 Social Media:  Unless someone else is doing your promotional work, you need to maintain an online presence in order to save yourself from total obscurity.  I find Twitter a good venue, you can show off your writing prowess and find some more writing friends and then promote each other.  An Author page somewhere will give some credibility and then there is Facebook, enough said.  Linked In has a more professional feel.  You might want to join Goodreads or Pinterest as well, if you think you have that much time.  The more you do, the more you benefit, however, managing social media will be a drain on your writing time, be judicious.

#8 Self-publishing is work and costs money.  There are some websites that offer free publishing if you do all the work yourself.   Back to the money thing…publishing is business even though the industry is changing the goal is the same, online publishers want to make money.  They will take a percentage of your selling price.  What happens if after all of this, you only sell one book, to yourself?

#9 It takes a really, really long time to write a good book.  Of the ten million plus self-published books out there are they all good?  Is yours?  Can you be objective?  Why rush it?  One more rewrite might make a significant difference.  Hire a proofreader!

#10 It does not seem possible that every author who claims bestseller status could actually be.  What defines best selling today?  Could some of these claims just be a fake it till you make it kind of promotion tactic?  Do not get distracted by things that do not matter, focus on #1.

You can follow that dream, but first make sure you have your eyes open and are fully awake.  Thanks for reading and keep writing!

Here are some short stories I wrote, free for the rest of the month:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/332370






  1. Lots of good advice and I like your sense of humor. One question: How does “but first make sure you have your eyes open and are fully awake” square with the inevitable sleep deprivation you promise in the side-effects? Oh, I forgot: addiction to caffeine is another side-effect! Do you mean “beneficiary” or “benefactor”? If the former, then another side effect is death! (Just kidding–can’t help being an English teacher–super-annoying habit.) I like your warning about self-publishing and particularly like #9: “…Why rush it? One more rewrite might make a significant difference. Hire a proofreader!” Thanks!


  2. This is all sound common sense… totally agree with writing every day… one of the hidden bonuses of being a journalist for over thirty years..
    Blogging is just as good !!!
    Job description spot on… and I find as a writer that if I don’t write I feel miserable, so that’s one of my great incentives – write to feel happy and energised !!!..


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