OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Everybody wants to know the best way to write, to publish, to market.
Imagine that you want to ski down a hill.
Even if you don't ski, hopefully you've seen enough Bond movies to know how it works! It's similar to our journey through life and also applies to writing, marketing and any kind of business or career.
(1) Your path is not a straight line. You have to zigzag.
Even though you know the general direction you want to head in, you can't direct yourself straight down the mountain, or you will certainly have an accident.
Even pros have to change direction and turn their skis across the slope. There is no direct path, so don't expect there to be.
There's also not just one path – everyone has a different route to get down, so you can try to follow other people's example but you will end up carving your own path. In my book, Career Change, I talk about all my various failed businesses before I found my true path as an author. It's a zigzag journey for us all.
(2) It's easier to turn once you're moving.
You need some momentum in order to turn on skis, so you actually have to get moving before you try.
In the same way, you actually have to start writing in order to have something to edit and improve. You have to start with a crappy website so you can learn how to make it better.
You have to start marketing somehow so you can learn what works for you and improve over time.
(3) You can't learn it all from books: you have to get on the slope.
You can't be a great skier by reading about it or going to seminars or watching YouTube videos. You actually have to put in the hours skiing.
The same applies to writing, publishing and marketing. People often assume that I have some kind of degree in marketing, but I don't. I've just been out there every day for five years learning on the slopes – emulating the pros, yes – but mainly doing it for myself.
(4) You're going to fall over and it's going to hurt. But you get better over time.
If you're afraid of falling over, you will never be a good skier. Because you will fall, it happens a lot and it has to happen if you're going to push yourself to get better and go on more advanced runs. So be prepared to fall, to fail, and to just get up again. Keep writing, keep putting your words out and keep experimenting with marketing.
(5) Some days, the weather is perfect and you can see for miles and the sun is shining and it's amazing!
This is meant to be fun!
Yes, being an author can be a career and an income, but it's also a passion. The reason we keep going back to skiing, keep going back up the slope, is that there is exhilaration and joy in the process, not just the outcome of getting to the bottom.
Some days, the weather will be perfect and we will have amazing runs on pristine, soft snow. Other days, the icy cold will make us grit our teeth to even manage one run and we wish we hadn't bothered. But we keep going back because we love it, and those amazing days when it all falls into place make it worth it!
What do you think about this? Does a zigzag journey accurately reflect your writing life? Please do leave a comment and join the conversation below.
Top image: Flickr Creative Commons ruapehu skiing by Airflore