A short treatise on the blogging experience.
Since beginning the attempt to pursue writing as an income-generating activity, I have discovered a number of general concepts disguised, or perhaps merely cloaked, in the form of specific roadblocks to success that were heretofore not a part of my expertise. In my defense, I must point out the title above, which is a familiar phrase to most of us, most likely brought into the English lexicon by the more loquacious members of the Tribe.
Be that as it may, the title question points up the most significant roadblock, i.e. ignorance of what is needed not just to write, but to take the next steps necessary to publish and/or sell one’s work. Who knew that this part of becoming a published author would take as much, or more, work than the writing itself? Who knew that researching concepts, subjects, words, cultures, news, people, etc. would take up a significant portion of the time spent to complete even a short piece? Who knew that to be a blogger, one needs to join social networks such as Facebook and Twitter in order to advertise what is written once it’s published? Who knew how organizational skills and time management would be critical to just keeping track of what is done, and what still needs to be done?
I suppose that you will point out that every successful writer knew the answers to all those questions; you would be right in that. I can add, now that I’ve done some of the research, that many of those successful writers have shared their expertise with the world at large. There are virtually countless web sites (well, it was more than I cared to count) dedicatedto just that subject. In addition, there are group websites where bloggers can exchange information, read each other’s work, and pool their knowledge for the benefit of all of them. These have been an invaluable tool, as one’s level of knowledge can grow while also practicing and polishing their craft. Each person in these groups has the benefit of feedback from like-minded people, as well as the benefit of seeing and judging the work of others in contrast to their own.
So, the real question becomes, how can I convert these specific hindrances to becoming an established and successful writer into a general concept that can provide motivation and purpose to every action? How can I give myself the sense of purpose that, as a human, acts as both impetus and guide to all of our decisions, and all of our actions? In short, how do I convince myself that I can do it? In my experience, the answers are most easily addressed when put into a simple list. A succinct step-by-step plan stated with simple elegance that can be absorbed quickly and easily, with just a glance provides me with the wherewithal to remain focused on the task at hand. By far, the most memorable list I’ve ever read is the following from the Grand Master of Science Fiction, Robert A. Heinlein:
HEINLEIN’S RULES FOR WRITING
1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.
These 5 Rules simply and efficiently answer every question above. Their very simplicity is enough of a reminder to stimulate in my mind all of the associated feelings and thoughts that provide the drive, the impetus for the work. Thanks to the advent of the computer age, I can copy this list to a sticky, set it to recur periodically, and replenish my sense of purpose from the Master’s well of knowledge on a regular basis. And thait is, in and of itself, truly the answer to Who Knew?