It’s Not a Job

MTE5NDg0MDU1MzM0OTc5MDg3One piece of wisdom I’ve heard at many writing conferences goes something like this: “Writing is a job. You have to treat it like a job to be successful.”

But that’s wrong.

Writing is not a job. A job means somebody pays you and you show up and take orders, and 70% of us do it without engaging.

Writing is a business.

The minute you set pen to paper or open your first Word file with the hope that someone will one day pay you for your poem or story or song, you have become an entrepreneur.  You are sole shareholder, chairman, and chief executive officer of the business (that picture, if you don’t recognize him, is Tim Cook; he’s a CEO).  In addition to the things I said the other day about being professional, that means that you must:

  • Decide how your business allocates its finite resources. That means especially your time and cash, but it also means the time of other people who interact with your business, physical space, and any other assets your business relies on.
  • Decide what other businesses to interact with. As CEO, you make the call about whether to enter into joint ventures with publishing companies, editors, marketers, agents, convention organizers, filmmakers, cover artists, and other writers.
  • Decide what terms your business accepts. You are responsible for every contract you sign, every oral agreement, and every failure to clarify terms. Every decision you make is a business decision about investment, risk, and reward.
  • Choose your business’s mission and vision statement. Every business has one, whether stated or not. The Fortune 500 agonize over these things, and sometimes pay consultants millions of dollars to advise them. As CEO of your writing business, your mission and vision are up to. Please make them bigger than “get paid.”
  • Set your business’s culture. This may seem ridiculous when your business is just you at the table behind the furnace, chicken-pecking out your first manuscript, but you’re going to grow. Every new partner, every new reader of every book, adds to the participants in your culture. So what kind of culture is it? Are you open and responsible? Secretive and clever? Innovative and hard-charging? Cooperative and patient? Make conscious decisions now, or look back in ten years and find that a culture has just happened.
  • Choose your business’s goals. There’s no manager here telling you how productive you have to be, or what are acceptable targets.

It’s all up to, because you’re the owner.

About David

I'm a writer. This is my blog.
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One Response to It’s Not a Job

  1. J.Rencher says:

    Welp….I’m hosed.

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