Writerly Pursuits


Looking at my current Things To Do list — specifically Writerly Things To Do (I also have such lists for the house, the garden and my day job) — got me thinking about activities that characterize the writing life. In no particular order, here is the list:

  1. Read and review the three books from the Emerging Local Authors Collection that are sitting on my bedside table.
  2. Finish writing a story (provisionally) called “The Ice Cream Truck From Hell.” Then post the story to my blog.
  3. Look through my file of stories that have never seen the light of day and select a couple to post on the blog. Then post them.
  4. Read closely and comment on three contributions to my critique group in preparation for a meeting on October 20th.
  5. Format for print publication within the next 3 months the second and third books of the Herbert West Series.
  6. Write some other stories that have been incubating way too long, before the ideas that inspired them wither and die.
  7. Prepare to write another novel — a sequel to the Herbert West Series — set in Egypt, specifically at an archaeological excavation in the 1960s. “Prepare to write?” You know — research, brooding, making notes, visualizing scenes, making more notes, etc.
  8. Read and occasionally comment on the daily stream of posts from the blogs I follow.
  9. Post to my blog at least once a week.
  10. Come to grips with the idea of marketing.

Thinking about this, it occurred to me that this is the real stuff of Being A Writer (except the marketing bit, maybe). It’s the 21st century analogue of what writers used to do in pre-computer days — getting together in cafes and bars, gossiping and arguing about the meaning of it all, writing letters, taking walks in the country and thinking about what to write next, mingling in literary salons, scraping away with their quill pens or pounding their typewriters. Nowadays much of the connection and exchange of ideas is done through social media, of course, but the dynamic is the same.

And, of course, there’s #10 on my list — marketing. Now as in the past, there are businesslike writers and those to whom that is an alien notion. Today’s indie authors don’t have to look far for reminders that to succeed, they must regard their writing and publishing as a business. Any who do not do this must resign themselves to failure.

As with the writing rules that also abound on the internet, the real situation is more complex — a compound of financial realities, creative impulses, expectations and motivations. Many self-published writers display a truly businesslike attitude, with (I assume) varying degrees of financial success and personal satisfaction. Many others do not. (Guess which of these groups I belong to. Just guess).

That’s really a side issue, though, the “marketing” aspect of being a writer. The core of it is whatever leads to new creations — writing. Whether the ferment of ideas and inspiration comes from face-to-face conversations with fellow writers, or electronically around the world, it must lead to sitting down and stringing words together. Otherwise, what’s the point?


  1. Realistically, marketing is #1 for writers. And publishers. When the writer is the publisher, it’s #1 squared (OK, mathematically that’s still 1, but you get the drift…). That said, personally I’d rather be writing. As, indeed, would all writers I suspect…

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  2. I like the way marketing is added on at the end like an afterthought, which would be fine if marketing was a five minute job. What is needed is for someone from the book marketing industry to write the definitive manual on the subject. Unfortunately, the only advice out there is from people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

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    1. There’s a lot of advice for writers out there. The hard part is picking out the good stuff. And it all depends on what any one writer wants to achieve — maximum sales, or just getting their book(s) out there and have them read by even a few people. I don’t know if you follow Nicholas Rossis’s blog, but he described some of his recent promotion efforts in a post yesterday, that I actually bookmarked for future reference.

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      1. I do read Nicholas’s blog. His feature on free book promotion sites had some interesting stats. That’s probably my bugbear with a lot of advice; it’s seldom backed up with real figures or hard facts. If someone tells me how to write a bestselling book I want to know what authority they have to give that advice, and the authority is evidenced with data and statistics, not force of argument.

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        1. True. I think a lot of the “advice” out there comes from bloggers who need to say something in their blogs, so they write stuff quickly without researching or thinking it out. I’m guilty of that myself, so should be careful to identify my opinions as such, rather than implying they are The Truth.


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