Friday, November 13, 2015

Dream Chaser: Defining Yourself


Friday the 13th? (It hurts to avoid the obvious and the easy, but I shall resist.)

The last few months have seen me writing a little less, and working on who I want to be as a writer a lot more. I know, writers write, or so they say. But writers are also CEOs of a business. My company is called Jason P. Henry and, for a period of time, my company seemed as though it lost its direction. So, it was time to develop a new business plan.

A business built on a writer… how could that lose direction? All a writer has to do is sit down, put fingers on the keyboard, take a breath, and spew out a best-seller. Then find an agent (most likely the first one we query will fall in love with our work), the agent finds a publisher within a couple of days, and a few weeks later we’re signing for thousands of people at a bookstore reading.

That about sums up the path to success, correct? Anyone who has considered taking this road knows it’s is not an easy one to travel. It’s definitely not a quick drive down the block.

My first novel, Hush-A-Bye, took me almost two years to complete.That was after two years of writing nearly thirty short stories that were placed into a file on my computer to collect digital dust. Now, I am six rejections in to publishing my book and I have four active WIPs. There’s, Don’t You Cry, the sequel to book one (a thriller). I have Reign Of Light (a biblical thriller) and The Devil Lived (a horror novel). And, yeah, there’s the romance novel Love On The Rocks. Wait, I forgot to mention that I began writing short stories and flash fiction again.

So what’s the problem? The problem is (was) that my brain didn’t know what to work on. I would sit down at my computer and stare at four different files, not sure which one to open. More often than not, I would just waste time by watching dust motes dance in the sunbeams pouring through my office window. I wasn’t writing, and remember, writers write. (Truth be told, I hate the phrase 'writers write'.)

This is when I stepped back. I questioned if maybe I was in over my head. Maybe I had lost sight of what I wanted and this writing thing wasn’t for me. Was that why I was playing genre roulette? I was imploding and it was the beginning of the end. It was time to consider that my efforts were futile and all the voices from my youth were correct. There’s no room in the world for dreamers.

Back to that business plan.

After writing the first book, I learned the value of even the most basic plot outline. So, I decided to apply that to myself, to my company. What did I want to accomplish? Where did I see myself going? At first, my outline looked more like a corn maze with no exit. Unacceptable. I played a little paper wad basketball and started over. It took a couple of weeks, but eventually I had an outline that began with ME. Then all the genres I was writing in plus some I aspire to write in. What I wanted to achieve in each genre. Then I built brands for each genre that would distinguish one from the other. I came up with pseudonyms. Then, staying true to myself, I made certain there was a way I could tie all those genres together.

The moral to the story is this, kids:

We can try to label ourselves but, ultimately, the words and the stories will dictate what we do. Don't fight it. Embrace it. Be thankful for the gift that you have no matter what form it takes on. When you find that you are overwhelmed, remember that you are a writer but also a business.

Build a business plan and have a clear understanding of where you want to go. Have a mission statement that inspires you. The dust motes will always be dancing in the sunbeams, but don't let them take you away from what matters. Sit down and write the story, or even stories, that want to be written.

And don't forget to enjoy every single minute!

When he's not working with the dedicated and passionate people of Pikes Peak Writers, Jason P. Henry is lost in a world of serial killers, psychopaths, and other unsavory folks. Ask him what he is thinking, but only at your own risk. More often than not he is plotting a murder, considering the next victim, or twisting seemingly innocent things into dark and demented ideas. A Suspense, Thriller and Horror writer with a dark, twisted sense of humor, Jason strives to make people squirm, cringe, and laugh. He loves to offer a smile, but is quick to leave you wondering what lies behind it. Jason P. Henry is best summed up by the great philosopher Eminem “I'm friends with the monsters beside of my bed, get along with the voices inside of my head.” Learn more about Jason at JasonPHenry.com.

19 comments :

  1. Jason, please call your mother. Thx.

    Really clever to look at outlining your writing career the way you'd outline a book. Nice post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad someone is organized. I don't outline my books, I don't have plans. I'm impressed by the way you can look at the big picture. Maybe it's because I never set out to be a "writer" or maybe it's because I'm lazy, or maybe it's because writing is much more fun than housework, but I sit down and work on a project until it's done. And enjoy watching the dust motes from time to time.

    Maybe if I'd had this advice 10 years ago when I started, I wouldn't be an 'unknown' author, but I have managed to crank out 18 books. You, on the other hand, will probably end up as a successful writer and people will walk up to you and say "I love your books." Thanks for sharing your process.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Terry. i am really not organized, that was the problem. This is a new approach to things realizing something had to change for me.

    The fact that you work on a project until it's done.. I admire that. I've had a long history of not following though. 18 books?! That's amazing! I hope to be at your level one day. We need to get you to conference!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would LOVE to attend the conference, but all my proposals have been rejected. We can talk. :)

      Delete
    2. Rejected probably not the proper word. I am not programming this year, but I can say we have been overwhelmed by the number of workshop submissions. A good problem to have, but it means we have to miss out on as many great workshops and presenters as we bring in.

      Delete
  4. LOL -- watching those dust motes dance in the sunlight just reminds me how much cleaning I need to do in this old house....

    Like you, I have multiple projects going and sometimes end up stuck with no sense of direction. Making a plan seems like adding one more project to the list, so my plan will be: "Pick one. Pick it now! Focus!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Still a great plan, Patricia! I wish I had the ability to pick one and focus, but alas, I am not so blessed!

      Delete
  5. Terrific advice. As with any endeavor, passion and craft aren't always enough. You need to know how to run a business and that is the part most writers struggle with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are correct. The more writers I meet, the more I realize how many DON'T understand that there is much more to it than just a word count.

      Delete
  6. Good advice about building a business plan ... now if I could just find a decent employee!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have the same problem. I have fired myself many times, several of those in the last week. But I am forced to rehire due to a lack of under qualified applicants. Frustrating.

      Delete
  7. Building on Christopher's comment, I agree in theory with the idea of an employee. However, I would change that term to "team." We all have strengths and weaknesses, and some of us may not have the time and/or the energy to bolster up those areas in which we do not excel. To do everything myself, for example, would be my ideal. Reality dictates that this isn't going to happen. I need to network with others whose strengths increase my chance of success. Therefore, my business plan must include those special people who form my team. Great post, Jason.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Linda. I know I could not survive without my connections to other writers. A supportive circle and good network are the best team you could have!

      Delete
  8. I like this idea. I like this idea a great deal. I judge myself that I haven't thought of it before. I outline every game I write. Why haven't I done that for my whole career? I shall write that mission statement and the steps I shall take to achieve it. Thanks, Jason. Love the pic, by the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck, Elspeth! Let me know how it works for you.

      And thanks for noticing! Lol

      Delete
  9. I use the who/what/where/when/why/how approach to the business plan. Easy peasy if you answer all the questions. As to imploding? It seems like a natural part of the creative process to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too natural at times. This has probably been the most overwhelmed I have been, to the point of being totally exhausted yet barely sleeping. It was time to get organized.

      Delete

The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...