Monday, January 23, 2012

Making the Donuts




When you learn something the first time, it's a revelation. When you learn it the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th times, it must be something that is very important to know.

Lesson: The most important thing I can do is write.
Corollary#1: Writing centers me.
Corollary#2: Keep writing no matter how busy I am.
Corollary#3: I'm the only one who can make the donuts (i.e. write words on the page).

The Many Hats of Publishing
When you publish, you have to wear many hats: writer, marketer, cover approver, edit wrangler, interviewee, blogger, twitterer, facebooker, networker, fellow writer supporter. (Note: this isn't just for self-publishing, but all kinds of publishing.) The most important one is writing, because without that bit, the rest is lacking in purpose. No matter how your sales and marketing efforts are going, no matter how many awesome contacts you are making, the most important thing you can do with your time is create the intellectual property that is the under-structure for your writing career.

Writing is the Answer
Stressed about sales? Writing centers me, reminds me why I'm doing this. Crazed with too many blog posts, twitter parties, promotional opportunities? Watching my word count rise helps me know I'm making forward progress, not drowning. Is the book doing fantastically well or abysmally bad? (I get just as stressed when sales are good as when sales are bad; I'm crazy that way.) Writing the next novel reminds me that the book for sale is not the only one I will ever create. Stuck on a plot point or character that simply won't behave? Writing through it wrestles my doubts into submission.

No matter what the problem, it seems like writing is always the answer.

Don't Ever Stop Making the Donuts
Every day, you need to make the donuts (I'm seriously dating myself with that phrase!). Every day you need to be writing words, creating intellectual property, doing the work. It's so easy to forget this, I need bar charts to keep me on track. But writing, like any art, is one of the few businesses that you can't outsource. You can get someone to make your cover for you; you can hire editors to help you; you can send your MS out to critique partners; but only you can create the story in the first place. You are the first, last, and only person who will see your vision through to words on the page. Every day, I have to do this work - and this becomes more important (not less) as I have more projects in the works.

Sometimes I'm a little thick-headed and need to learn a lesson a couple times.

Hopefully, this time, I won't forget.

p.s. in other news, Open Minds broke the Top 100 in Science Fiction (squee!).

37 comments:

  1. Time to make the donuts.

    How can I ever forget those commercials! and I agree with you-writing is where it's at!

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  2. Good points, all. All the marketing in the world is useless if you haven't written a good book.

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  3. Oh, nice post, Susan! I'm going off to make my own donuts right now!

    ~JD

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  4. I love this line: "You can get someone to make your cover for you; you can hire editors to help you; you can send your MS out to critique partners; but only you can create the story in the first place."

    You make such a fantastic point. As writers there are many steps we need to take, hats we need to wear and people we need to collaborate with, but in the end it comes down to you and your ability not only to write a story, but to write the next one as well.

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    1. Thanks Ava! Our work is truly a craft (and a labor of love)!

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  5. Gotta make the donuts ... I guess I'm dating myself, too! I'm home sick from work today, not feeling up to donuts, really. But I'm looking at the donuts, nevertheless, poking them a little bit, sprinkling sugar on top. Hey, at least I'm spending time with the donuts!

    Congrats on hitting the Amazon charts!

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  6. "I'm the only one who can make the donuts."

    This is my new motto.

    Also: "I'm the only one who can eat the donuts." So stay back. Mine. I mean, this doesn't even make sense as an allegory for writing, but I don't care. My donuts.

    Also, it is kind of awesome that the book before you, at #98, is Heinlein's A Stranger in a Strange Land.

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  7. writing every day can be hard, but if you make it a priority it doesn't seem all that hard.

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    1. So true! Although I think my kids are wishing I made laundry a priority at this point. :)

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  8. So much truth here, Susan. I haven't made any donuts for a while, I've been a slackerhead. Time to get cooking again! :-)

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  9. You had me at donuts.

    :)

    I started writing tv reviews and feature articles for a site to keep me motivated with writing. It's more straightforward than my novel in progress, and when I have an existential crisis of sorts, feeling like writing fiction is a lost cause, it's nice to have something tangible like a deadline to focus on which has nothing to do with my novel. Totally different types of writing but for me it's been helpful to keep writing SOMETHING.

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    1. This is how I feel about blogging too - it imposes a discipline and keeps the fingers moving. :)

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  10. Ha, great analogy! I remember those commercials vividly!! And yes, discipline is a good thing:)

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    1. Isn't it funny how things like that stick with you? Make...the...donuts... :)

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  11. So true. The days I add pages to the ms. or just do long hand rough drafting, I feel great. And I have to say that letting myself write messy in longhand is a huge creativity booster.

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  12. wow! Super HUGE congrats on Open Minds! I'm not surprised a bit--both based on how good the book is and how hard you've been working. :)

    As for the donuts, it's true. It's so, so true. Without the writing, all the rest has no purpose. ((hugs)) Thanks, Susan! <3

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  13. Congrats on Open Minds. I'm really not surprised - it's amazing. I like the idea of bar charts. I need to get a little better at really keeping myself responsible for achieving my goals.

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  14. Damn. I thought the answer was going to be eating doughnuts.

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    1. LOL! That's my kids' answer to everything: more donuts!

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  15. Very cool analogy. Loved your post. :)

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  16. Great post, Susan, though I have to avoid the donuts as I'm sugar free. :-) But I loved your point about how writing centers you. This past weekend I got back into writing a story that I'd been dragging my heels on, and it really did make me feel so much better. For writers, writing is definitely the alpha and omega.

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  17. I'm writing...but now I'm getting hungry for donuts :-)

    This is a great post. Sometimes, with all the many things going on, writing can get incidentally shuffled out of place. This is a great reminder to keep at the writing. Otherwise, the covers, marketing and interviews are of little good if you don't have the donuts.

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  18. I'm not sure about the donuts, but the news about Open Minds hitting the top 100 is AWESOME! Congrats!

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  19. I totally agree. Sometimes I have to change the flavor of my donuts--i.e., crumbcake to chocolate when I feel like the crumbcake recipe isn't going so well. When I've made a good batch of chocolate donuts, I can good back to that crumbcake recipe with renewed confidence.....uh, does that make sense to anyone but me? :)

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    1. LOL! I totally got you. I get intense into my donut making, then I need a break, too!

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  20. I needed to hear this today. I have made no donuts for a long time now and it frustrates me to no end. Some days I feel like I can't do this anymore, even though I love it. I'm ONLY ONE person! Jeez. But it is all about the donuts. Not the other stuff. Thanks for the reminder.

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  21. First of all, CONGRATS!! That's awesome news! Second, I like the donut allegory. Plus they're delicious. :D

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  22. making donuts is the best thing to do in the world! You are so right, it such a stress reliever and motivation reviver. "Just write" has always been my favourite writing advice :)

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  23. Congrats on Open Minds!

    Remember to take time out for Susan, I call it time for the Self. The laundry isn't going anywhere, is it?

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    1. I am the worst offender of remembering time for Self! Thanks for the reminder!! :)

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  24. I'm so impressed by all the work you've been doing to launch and market Open Minds, plus write the second book. You must be running on adrenaline. Boy, I could sure go for some donuts right now. We're in the middle of moving (taking forever), and I'm adjusting to babysitting grandbaby 9 hrs. a day (very tired but loving every minute), and all my WIPs are screaming for attention. I'm going to be so thankful when I have the time & energy to get back to my writing. Right now, it's just a matter of getting through one day at a time and adjusting, tying up loose ends. But your words will stay with me, a good reminder to get back into it ASAP. Congrats on breaking the top 100 list for sci-fi! Woo hoo! I'm so glad Open Minds has taken off and is doing so well. Oh, baby's waking up. I finished my comment just in time!

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  25. What a wonderful blog, am working my way through! Congratulations on your books, and congrats on hitting top 100 list for sci-fi! Your blog has been rather inspiring, I am on the final road to self-publishing my own book and am rather stressed. To read how much you seem to enjoy what you do, and to keep at it, is exceptionally inspiring, thank you.

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    1. Aileen - I'm so glad it helped inspire you! Self-publishing (any publishing, I'm convinced at this point) can be tremendously stressful. Returning back to what started you in the first place - the writing - can be a great way to keep the crazy at bay! Good luck with your writing journey!! :)

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  26. This is a great reminder. I've been telling this myself lately. Congrats on making to top 100!

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    1. I have to keep repeating it, like a mantra. :) (And thanks!)

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  27. Whenever I have to get up earlier than normal (like today!) I grumble about "it's time to make the donuts" and my kids are like, "where? what donuts? can I have one with sprinkes?"

    Te he.

    But seriously, I love this post. NaNoWriMo's bar charts were inspiration for me when I discovered them. Now I used Excel all the time to track my progress and motivate myself!

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