Wu Wei Wednesday: Writing Is The Marathon, Not The Sprint

The age we live in really is something, folks.

These days you can order your favorite coffee and have it on your doorstep the next day. Sometimes the same day before 8pm! We’re constantly connected to endless information. We’ve got entertainment for days in our homes more often than not.

And that’s where the problem is.

Now, the obvious jabs at distractions and social media aside. As writers, we have to be careful not to become sprint runners, by which I mean, thinking of our books as the end destination of all our efforts.

More and more these days, I’m learning the importance of shifting the way I think about writing from being a short term sprint to being a lifelong marathon.

Unless of course, you’re only planning to only write one book in your life. But for the rest of us that want writing to be a full-on career, here’s some things you might want to remember.

1.) Don’t Put So Much Pressure Hyping The Launch!

Of course, I’m not saying to not build buzz around your book. But Jeff Goins probably put this in better words,

“The biggest danger to an author,” says Jeff Goins, “is spending all their energy on a launch.”

I was guilty of this for a little while before my book came out. I was thinking that I had to have everything all set up right at the moment I hit ‘publish’. And I was panicking unnecessarily because I didn’t and that panicking lead to spending more energy on trying to fix things.

And that my friends, just lead to more panicking.

So you can imagine the huge breath of relief I took when I was read this:

In fact, launch sales are generally disappointing compared to what happens once the Amazon algorithms kick in and you get some traction around reviews and reputation.

Joanna Penn, Author 2.0 Blueprint


This is why you don’t want to fall into “sprint thinking”. And I won’t lie, sometimes it’s hard to see past what’s happening in your sales right now, but you gotta remember that stores like Amazon want people to buy stuff that they might like. So they’re a lot more likely to push the bestsellers that already have glowing reviews and new releases of authors that already have a presence on the site rather than your unknown book.

And since we’re on that note…

2.) Don’t Put So Much Pressure On The First Book Either!

Again, I’m not completely sure how you get around this if you’re done after one book, aside from some major advertising hustle.

I knew this to some extent, but knowing it doesn’t always let it sink in fully until you’re out there doing it. When you’ve stewed with a book for so long, especially your first, it’s 100% natural that you’d want to blare all the airhorns and run down the street with it.

But don’t.

News stories like to overhype the breakout successes so much that we buy into the idea that our first book can be like that too. Take for example Hugh Howey, you might know him as the guy who wrote “Wool”. Wool is defined as his “breakout success” sure…

But it was his seventh book. Seven. Which means that he already had an audience waiting and primed to talk about Wool when it came out.

And when you look at writers who do have a lot of success like J.A. Konrath and Amanda Hocking, they have a lot of books out aka multiple streams of book income across the different bookstores.

I know that’s not always what we enjoy hearing when you’re barely finishing or barely starting your first book. Writing as a career really is about the long haul and where you want to be in the future.

So try to relax a little bit and don’t fall into the first book as the special snowflake.

You’ll get there if you keep writing.


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