Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What Do Really Successful Writers Need To Do Or Be?

There was a guy who just set a record for running across America in 42 days, breaking the prior record of 46. He wasn’t Forrest Gump, but his run was monumental, racing from California by foot to the streets of New York City.  It showed how discipline, focus, hard work, and a vision can be rewarded, that they can combine to help someone achieve a lofty goal.  Can writers apply the same will and endurance to create their books and market them?

Running is certainly quite a physical feat.  You can’t be 300 pounds and do what this guy did.  You can’t have a major heart condition and do this.  You can’t have messed-up joints or broken bones in your feet and do this.  Day in and day out you have to wake up and answer the call.  He averaged around 70 miles of roadwork daily.  That’s almost three marathons in a day -- every day -- for six full weeks.  My back aches just getting up from my desk to walk to the fridge.

But running is also mental.  You need a strong psychological core to center you and help you persevere through the pain, repetition, boredom and exhaustion.  You need to visualize where you are going and then once you arrive, to reset our internal GPS for another course.  Long-distance running may be as much a mental effort as a physical one.

Writers, however, are mostly challenged mentally, and not physically.  They are out of balance.  Many writers need the stamina to stay awake and write – but that’s it.  They don’t have to move much and that could work against them.  They need a balance between the psychological and the physical, to get the blood flowing.  Writers are naturally curious and will venture past the book store, library, couch or desk, but they typically are not specimens of physical wonder.

What mindset would it take to succeed as a writer, especially, if you wanted to hole yourself away for days and weeks to just be left alone to bang out the book you’ve always wanted to write and know yourself capable of crafting?

Here are 10 areas writers need to focus on:

1. Writers actually need distractions, challenges, and problems so they can run away from them – or be inspired and influenced by them.  They can’t just retreat to a rubber room and type up a 320-page book on command.  They get anxious when they are actually given a cluster of time to write.  They start to seek outside distractions in hopes it will then repel them back to their desk.

2. Writers need to feel up against something – an enemy, a deadline, a dream.  They can’t just be relaxed and settled.  They write out of righteousness, anger, fear, anxiety, or purely because they believe they discovered a truth or need to expose a problem or villain.

3. They need to compartmentalize and zero in on the objective at hand.  They have to shut everything out and commit to the next 30 minutes, hour or two hours to just write and filter all thoughts through the prism of their book.

4. Writers tend to get attached to their ideas and they feel obligated to defend and pursue them.  What they really need is flexibility and permission to untie themselves from things that shackle them.  They must feel unburdened and allow themselves to edit, re-write or even tear up their work.

5. They need to stop wanting something that they really do little to achieve.  Dream, yes, but at some point look to convert the fantasy into reality.  Don’t remain in a state of desire – move to action.

6. Writers also need to inject some honesty into the process.  They should assess where they are in their writing career and take stock of their circumstances.  Look deep within to see where they really want to be.  Look at where they fall short and start to explore what it will take to move forward.  Once one acknowledges a problem, it is then that he or she begins to solve it.

7. Writers need to work under a sense of urgency in order to get the job done. Do your best – then work harder.  Believe in yourself. But don’t rest there.  Try again, try harder.  Analyze things from all angles.  Try things in a different way or try different things.  Be persistent and relentless in your pursuits.  Past failures don’t guarantee new failures any more than past success guarantees future success.

8. Writers, to be successful, either need to feed their addictions, but manage them or shut them down completely.  Plenty of writers are drunks, chain-smokers, overweight, gamblers, drug consumers, and sex maniacs.  I won’t judge as long as you don’t hurt someone, although such reckless, extreme behavior eventually impacts your life and those around you.  But writers need to either self-medicate (within reason) or go cold turkey, because what could be a crutch can also prove to be one’s downfall.

9. Writers need to tap into their life experiences and make the most of anything that happened to them or that they witnessed.  Otherwise you need to make up the rest.  Of course, good writers can draw a wild story out of a small incident but you still need even a spark or tiny event to get you going.  What drama will you thrust yourself into?

10. Lastly, writers will need to load up on media input.  By reading the books of others, being news junkies, and taking in other artistic forms (plays, music, TV, films, dance), you’ll nurture your creative genius.  Writing is like a virus – you need to catch it and then share it with others.

*********************************************** America in 2000: 65,900 reporters, 128,600 PR people America in 2015: 45,800 reporters, 218,000 PR people.
– Bureau of Labor Statistics

Donald Trump says the fix is in with the news media trying to hand Hillary Clinton a win. That is up for debate in both media and political circles but what has not been discussed enough is the fact there are at least five flacks for every hack – or five times as many PR pushers than there are journalists.  It was only a 2 to 1 ratio just 15 years ago – but even that was already out of control when the number of reporters is half of the number of influence peddlers seeking to gain their favor. Not only is the media outmanned, they lack the resources to fully investigate the people, events, and things they cover.

Reader Response To Advertising In Books
“The first hurdle to advertising in books is the unwritten rule that books can't contain advertising. As a publisher of magazine-book hybrids (U.S. News & World Report), we have found much confusion in the industry about whether such a rule ever existed, still exists, is different for e-books versus printed books, etc. It's not true that bookstores won't sell books that contain ads: The Old Farmer's Almanac sells a couple million copies per year, much of it via bookstores. Last month, Ingram Publisher Services began distributing our publications to book channels, and we have been pleasantly surprised so far with sales of our Best Colleges 2017 guidebook to traditional booksellers. But the belief that a ban on ads exists, and uncertainty about how to get it repealed, is likely to discourage most publishers from including ads in their books.

“Other barriers to advertising in books include long shelf life (Ads may become obsolete before the book goes out of print.), unpredictable book sales (How much do you charge for an ad if you don't know how many people will see it?), formats (Most print ads are color, but most books are printed in B&W.), and the many months it takes for a book to get to market. Annuals have the best shot because of their shorter time to market, predictable sales, short shelf life, and (for some publishers) existing advertising expertise and relationships.

--Mark W. White
Vice President, Specialty Marketing

U.S. News & World Report

On Biography
“In attempting to balance objective facts with subjective interpretation, biographers must constantly test the reliability of their sources. And they must always consider the ethical dilemmas that inevitably arise when tempering explicitness with respect of the subject’s privacy. These are the issues that make biographical writing especially challenging, interesting, and – as we have found – worthy of comment.”  -- Helena Hjalmarsson

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.
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