|Efficiency, organization, and the self-awareness fairy
||[Sep. 17th, 2011|12:20 pm]
Recently a new writer I shared a ToC with asked me for advice, and it dovetailed nicely with a conversation I had with timprov, so I thought I'd put one piece of my thoughts here.
Writers have a lot of choices in how to try to get our work out to the rest of the world. You can submit to agents, send your stuff directly to major publishing houses, go for the small/indie press route, look for an e-book publisher, self-publish on a website or in e-book or in hard copy.
When you are choosing one of these options, make a mental list of all the things you fully intend to get done in a given month, with the deadlines attached to each. Include large projects in whatever work you do; include small personal things like flossing and working out and using up the spinach before it goes bad. Figure out how many of these things you get done as intended and on time, as a percentage of your total.
Ask yourself: do your expectations of whatever form of publishing you have chosen depend on one or more people, including yourself, managing to exceed your hit rate on getting stuff done in an efficient and timely fashion? If your happiness with a particular form of publication depends on everybody else (or even yourself!) having a much higher hit rate than you have managed yourself, probably either your plan or your expectations should be adjusted.
The self-awareness fairy will surely visit some of you, and at that moment you may say, "But I'm a total flake! Other people will surely have a higher hit rate than I do! They are far more organized and efficient!" Then ask yourself: are you the only total flake who wants to work in the arts? Really?
The self-awareness fairy visits others of us and says, "I am way, way more organized and efficient than most people." If yours goes that direction, by all means take it into account in your expectation structure. Ask yourself: when in my life have I encountered entire groups worth of people who are at least as organized and efficient as I am? Should my plans depend on such groups springing up without that being their unifying factor? Also ask yourself: is my current level of organization and efficiency something I can rely on maintaining in the face of adding a great many other chores of type X? X will vary for you. For some people, doing the work of marketing one's own book will disproportionately sap one's energy; for others, dealing with an unknown number of other people doing an unknown number of other tasks will be as draining.
But for heaven's sake do not rely on a plan that assumes that other people are all far more efficient and organized than you have ever managed to be. It will lead to tears.