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What I Learned About Writing This Week…from Being a Business

Or: Dash It All, I Don’t Want To Be a Business! Pt. 1

Hello, lovelies. Welcome to my rant in two parts. The first part, you can read below. The second part will appear on my own blog, Court Can Write, sometime in the next week or two. Addendumish link to follow once Pt. 2 goes live.

Laughing at the idea of me as a business.

So. Onward, tally-ho, and all that rot. Today’s rant is brought to you by my most recent realization: namely, that I don’t want to be a business.

“Huh?” you say. “What do you mean, a business? I thought you were a writer?”

*sigh* So did I, my darlings. So did I.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Some of you beautiful people regularly read me both here and at my blog, so I know some of you are familiar with my recent post How My Bachelors in Writing Didn’t Prepare Me for Writerhood. In that post, I say something that’s Very Important and which All Writers Must Live By:

Writing is a business.

And the writer is CEO, VP, treasurer, secretary, and go-fer.

And this is every writer. Not just the self-published ones.

Writers, we must learn to think of ourselves this way.

These four statements are all the truth.

And when I read them, a stubborn creature inside of me narrows her eyes, thins her lips, and speaks a firm, uncompromising “NO.”

O! cognitive dissonance! Indeed, “I spit my last breath at thee.”

Let’s Get This Out of the Way

For the last seven months, I have been thinking of myself as a business. You see, once upon a time, traditionally published writers could count on their traditional publishers to establish the writerly platform, promote the writerly activities, and leave chocolate mints on the writerly pillows. Nowadays, few writers get that kind of treatment, with the exception of the A-listers, and I’m sure I needn’t list them for you here. You know who they are.

Indie-published writers such as I have always needed to go it on their own, and self-published writers — well, the “self” part pretty much tells you who their marketing directors and CEOs are. If you haven’t the bombast of a legacy publisher behind you, you’ve gotta toot your own horn, and that’s just that.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining, and I am wholly head-over-heels for my indie publisher. I believe in my publisher’s ideals and business model, and I’m terribly excited to be part of the first steps into The Consortium’s brave new world.


Being your own CEO, VP, treasurer, secretary, and go-fer is hard.

It takes time.

And it is time I would much rather spend writing.


Even Amanda Hocking, who has rocked the indie-publishing world with her flabbergasting e-sale, Kindle-type success, has remarked on how much the writing wanes when the business waxes. Her reasoning goes thusly:

“I want to be a writer. I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling e-mails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full-time corporation.”

(Click here for the NY Times article.)

I wouldn’t say I’m to the full-time corporation point yet; I don’t have enough demands on my time to justify such a remark.

But I can see it coming.

And I don’t like it.

If I answered all incoming emails, Facebook messages, tweets, blog comments, and Google+ notifications every day, I would spend 3 solid hours at these tasks every single day. And I’m only talking Monday through Friday. That’s 15 hours a week.

(And I’m not even counting the time it takes me to craft three worthwhile blog posts every week. That’s another story. Or maybe it’ll come up in Pt. 2. We’ll see.)

In writing terms, 15 hours can be the equivalent of 7,500 – 10,000 words. Maybe even up to 15,000 in a good week.

According to these averages, I could be writing 40,000 more words per month. Instead, I’m being a business.

This is starting to become unacceptable.

When I post the continuation of this rant, I’ll come back and drop a few links here. In the meantime, that’s WILAWriTWe.

Do you feel like I do?

Photo by Julie V. Photography.

8 Responses to “What I Learned About Writing This Week…from Being a Business”

  1. Aaron Pogue says:

    One thing you have to ask yourself, though, is if you’d really spend that time writing. You’re the one who talks about going to the well, and setting boundaries.

    I read an article just last week that pointed out that fifteen minutes of writing a day equals one novel per year. That really opened my eyes. I stopped beating myself up for the fact that I don’t have hours and hours to devote to writing time every day, and that let me enjoy the time I do spend more.

    I’m not saying doing business stuff is the same kind of refreshing as reading or watching a good movie, but I think the work we do to stay connected with our readers and examine our own processes does help us do better work when we sit down to those fifteen minutes.

    • Dude. Hang on. You haven’t let me get to Part 2 yet. 😉

      I do agree that the connection with readers and the examination of process is important. Essential, even. And I’ll go into that in the second half of my rant, once I get around to it.

      But it’s worth noting that I’m not making a value judgment on the investment of time in the business side of things. I’m merely expressing the fact that I don’t wanna. That doesn’t mean I ain’t gonna. ; )

      No, I probably wouldn’t spend that extra time in the actual writing of novel-ish words. But the business stuff drains me, which then leaves less energy for the writing stuff. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I haven’t found the balance yet, and I am still seeking it. After all, I’ve only been doing this for 7 months. I’m still a newbie. : )

  2. Julie says:

    I’m feeling it, Court. I’m feeling it.

  3. Pamela Davis says:

    I’ve only been doing it a month or so and I’m already feeling it…and I have loads more time than most do. I think for me, the big difference between time spent writing and time spent self-promoting is that one feels very much like a job while the other is glorious fun. Guess which is which? I know that right now, given that I’m with a small press, it is crucial that I participate online in whatever ways I can for marketing. But I really hate it most of the time. I just realized I could go on and on with this topic so maybe I’ll blogpost about it. Just know that I get what you are saying, Courtney.

    • Pam, I think you proverbialized that nail all over the place. One feels like a job, the other feels like fun — and the line of demarcation is pretty distinct. And for me, at least, there’s a good reason I always wanted to be a writer and never wanted to have a business-y desk job! ; )

  4. Joshua Unruh says:

    Maybe it’s my nature as an extrovert combined with the nature of the internet, but self-promotion is a HOOT…when it’s done with and for other living breathing beings. That are in the same room. That I can see and talk to. But that isn’t internet self-promotion by and large.

    I’m actually watching this/your space with earnest so that I can have all this sorted out before my book comes out. No catch-up for me, thanks for blazing the trail!

    • LOL, you’re welcome, Josh. I’ll send you my bill for all the hatchets I’ve broken as I hack my way through the undergrowth of indie-pub. 😉

      And yes, I’m guessing your enjoyment of promotion does stems from being an extrovert. I’m just glad we introverts have one of you working with us. ; )