Thursday, January 16, 2014

Craft/Business Balance

Hi, this is from me, Caitlin. :)

There is so much advice on writing and often it’s hard to figure out what to follow and what to ignore, especially when advice conflicts.

I’ve heard that writers should spend just as much time understanding the business of publishing as they do working on their craft. But I’ve also heard that, instead of going crazy drafting a query and researching agents, you should just work on writing great stories. The rest will fall into place.

It’s tricky, because queries are tough and rather important. And, you need to know what agents do as opposed to editors. You need to know how to avoid bad, or even mediocre, agents who will hurt your career more than help it. So you have to do some research in order to "play the game."

My problem is that I find the business side of things fascinating and really enjoy learning about it. So, for me, it can become a rabbit hole, a safe dark place where I feel productive (I’m doing industry research!), but I’m not actually advancing things. I’m reading some of the same advice over and over instead of free writing or tackling that tough scene or reading inspiring flash fiction or doing exercises targeted at fixing my weaknesses.

So, I’ve realized that I must consciously stop myself from doing too much research and instead spend much much more time on the writing side of things.

Most of us are doing this in addition to day jobs and families and other obligations, so it’s obviously important to use that sacred writing time wisely. How do you think writers should balance becoming industry savvy with becoming a better writer?

Karlie: I feel that you should only do a little research on the side until you've got a book ready to go on the market. Then time should be devoted to finding an agent, writing your query, and getting publicity platforms together. Don't get me wrong - I think every author should have at least a working knowledge of all these things pretty early on. I just think the writing is more important, at least until you're ready to pitch. I do find myself doing the same thing you said, Caitlin - when I get stuck, I tend to hide behind the guise of doing research.
So I guess, in a nutshell, that every writer is different, and your time should go towards whatever will make your book - and your career with that book - the best it can be.

Lisa: I think that it should be a 70/30 balance after you've hit the publishing stage - 70% being the writing.
After all, if you don't have a decent book to publish, what good is the agent research or the blogging, platform building? By the same token, it's not advisable to have an excellent book but refuse to do any of the other for lack of merit. Gone are the days when an unestablished author can refuse social media (does J.K. Rowling even have a Twitter?). I wish those days weren't gone as I am the classic introvert writer. Of course I can be social, and even have a little fun doing it, but my comfort zone is in my imaginary world. 

No comments:

Post a Comment