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The Modern Author's MAIN Job

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By Jody Hedlund,@JodyHedlund

Long ago, in the dinosaur ages before the internet existed, writers could just write. If they wanted, they could hide away in a mountaintop cabin overlooking a lake and could focus on writing books for days and weeks. Except for the occasional book signing or speech at a local library, the old-fashioned writer didn't have to worry about much except writing great books.

But those were the good old days . . .

As you know (and have likely heard ad nauseam), the modern writer has to handle an incredible myriad of responsibilities including: editing for critique partners, judging contests, interacting with book groups, answering emails, staying abreast of industry news, interacting with fans via social media, enhancing professional relationships with other authors, keeping up with personal and group blogs, updating websites, providing endorsements, etc.

And the biggest time cruncher? Marketing our books. Authors can literally spend hours upon hours organizing blog tours, writing up interview questions or guest posts, planning Pinterest campaigns, giving away and mailing books, participating in Facebook chats, doing Q & A on Goodreads, etc., etc., etc.

With all the responsibilities that fall upon the modern author's shoulders, it's a wonder writers have any time left for actually writing their books!

In the past, the pendulum of a writer's job tipped in the direction of mostly all writing. And now in the present it has swung the opposite way, and many writers struggle to squeeze in any writing. As I've analyzed this pendulum shift, I've realized that perhaps the modern writer has gone TOO far the opposite direction.

Of course I've heard plenty of people say that self-published authors have no other choice but to spend just as much time marketing their books (if not more) than they do writing. And even traditionally published authors must scramble to find ways to get their books to stand out in an exceptionally crowded market.

But as great as social media is for marketing and for interacting, I've realized that the modern writer is really much better off shifting back to the middle of the pendulum (if not inching back the other way). Maybe we can't ever return to the all-writing world of the bygone days. But neither do we have to let our writing take a back seat to all the other responsibilities.

Whether we self-publish or go the traditional route, a fiction writer's MAIN job is WRITING BOOKS.

We often get caught up in all the online hype and begin to think that everything else will help us have success. But our BOOKS are what make us successful.

The more we write and the more we publish, the more chances readers will have to discover us. And when they love one book, they're more likely to go out and buy more of our books as well as tell others about us.

But that phenomenon can only happen when we're writing multiple books AND the stories are consistently good quality.

So my advice is for modern writers to stop piddling away time on all of those other responsibilities. Sure, we need to give them some time. But it can't be our best or greatest time.

For example, when I have a concentrated block of free time, I make myself use that time for working on my books and my books alone. I make it a priority to meet my daily word count goal before I do any of the other writing work. Blogging, emailing, responding to interviews ALL take the leftover miscellaneous time that I have here and there. I give my best time to my books.

The modern author's main job still is and always will be THE WRITING. Our stories will be the stepping stones to our future success. As we write and publish them one by one, we'll keep climbing higher and gaining new readers.

So what do you think? Do you think many modern writers have let the pendulum swing too far and are getting themselves too busy with all of the other writing responsibilities? What are some ways you strive to make your writing THE priority amidst all the other writing work that clamors for our attention?


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