Like every other worthwhile endeavour, writing a book takes effort. Writing a whole bunch of books takes a whole bunch of effort. Writing a shitload of books… well, you get the picture.
Building a career as a bankable author is a daunting task. Ask any bankable author. Apart from the very rare overnight sensation (EL James, you rockstar) they will tell you it takes rivers of blood, seas of sweat and oceans of tears, along with a hefty helping of time, and an even heftier helping of Segokibu.
Segokibu is the ancient Japanese art of sitting your arse down in your chair and just writing until you are at the level of success that you wish to achieve. The ancient Japanese applied Segokibu to many areas of their daily lives, resulting in all kinds of amazing things – ninjas, sake, and Ken Watanabe.
But you won’t find Segokibu in any of the ancient textbooks. No, it was passed verbally, generation to generation until, through some crazy quirk of fate, I received the training from my half-Japanese cousin on my father’s side (who may or may not be real. In fact, all of the above may not be real… but I digress…)
So, what is Segokibu?
And here are the laws of Segokibu:
Law No. 1: You can’t kick arse if your goals aren’t set first.
Again, every now and then someone manages to kick arse first. But the likelihood is infinitesimally small. Microscopically infinitesimally small. So set your goals.
As wannabe bankable writers, we know we have to get the words on the page. Once the words are on the page, we can massage them, make them feel more comfortable, then send them on their way in their prettiest dress to see the nice publisher, who might like them well enough that he will print the book. If we are looking at the indie-publishing route, same thing. We have to get the words on the page so we can massage them, make them feel more comfortable, so we can push them, flapping wildly, out of the tree in their prettiest dress and see how they fly. If we’re doing it right, we’ve also provided them with some wings by way of marketing and promotion.
How do you get the words down on the page? Set some goals.
It could be a daily, weekly or monthly word count.
It could be once-a-year you sit down and work out just how many stories you think you can churn out over the following year.
It could be based on words written, or query letters sent, or competitions entered, or manuscripts requested.
It could be all of the above. Mine are.
But whatever you decide your goals to be, they need to motivate you to get the words down on the page. Not just today. Not just this week. Not just this month and next month. A writing career is a long term commitment. You know how you work 40 hours a week in that retail or admin or sales job? Writers do that too, only the 40 hours are spent on writing and writing-type stuff. So make your goals something you can stick to in the long term. I know of one person whose writing goal is 200 words a day. Now, I don’t know about you, but I could spit 200 words out over breakfast. Without even stopping eating. But this person knows her goal will be something she can stick to, and something she can accomplish and exceed day in, day out, with the view to, eventually Kicking Butt.
Eventuality is a nice thing. It’s what happens at the end of everything. And with writing, so long as you set and stick to your goals, eventually, you will be a bankable author. You will Kick Butt.
It might happen in a few years for you. Or it might take ten. Or more. But eventually, because you have set your goals, kept writing, put your arse in that chair and churned out the words, you will succeed. (Unless you are writing a series of domestic engineering manuals in old Turkhmenistani. There’s a pretty limited market for that kind of book. But hey! Who am I to squash your dreams. Do it! You too can succeed! It might just take a little longer…)
The bottom line is that without goals, you WON’T kick butt – unless you are lucky. There are some lucky people in the world. The rest of us have to actually set the goals, place our backsides gently in the chair, limber up our fingers, and write like we are already a bankable author. For those half hour stretches you can find in which to write, you are a writer. Revel in it. Set the goals.
And let the arse kicking begin.