Writing (taken as a lifestyle, whether vocation or avocation) consists of two discrete areas: the writing itself… and everything else (EE).
The writing itself is fairly discernable: Plan/plot/ponder; initial drafting; subsequent drafts; revising; rewriting; polishing. Self-directed at first, then possibly with editorial suggestions.
Let’s further divide “everything else” into two areas: EE1 and EE2.
EE1 is basically book-related stuff (querying; submitting; discussing things with your agent; back-and-forthing with an editor; etc.) that—while not specifically writing—is absolutely germane to the completion and publication of your work. (If you’re an indie author, this could also include formatting for ebook, book design, cover art, writing flap copy, etc.)
EE2 is a little fuzzier, as it contains a lot of stuff that isn’t directly book-related, yet which we could still conceivably think of as “writing adjacent.” This might include: promoting; networking; marketing; touring; blogging/vlogging/podcasting; running giveaways; developing and maintaining a website, and seventeen thousand various other items somewhere within the broad category of “social media.”
Notice how—in a weirdly reversed hierarchy—the further we get from the actual writing, the bigger the categories get? The more options for non-writing we have? And the more time some of these non-writing tasks can eat up?
The ratio (of time spent on each) is important, if for no other reason than we have a finite number of hours we can dedicate to the whole activity falling under the broad umbrella known as “writing.”
I’m certainly not here to suggest how much time you should spend on each. (Duh. At this exact moment I’m writing a blog post instead of working on my WIP, right?) It’s different for different writers, regardless. I’m just suggesting that maybe we should take stock of it occasionally, lest it get away from us and our focus unintentionally drifts. (Otherwise known as ‘mission creep.’)
I’ll further posit that it seems much more common for writers to go from a higher W:EE (Writing to Everything Else) ratio to a lower one than the other way around.
Very few of us do too much writing and not enough EE. (Although I’m sure somewhere there’s an author with amazing books in a trunk—which we’ll never see—because they just write them, then put them away and start another one.)
But a lot of us seem to actually do more EE than writing. Again, not for me (or anyone else) to say. But something I can say is that in the overall scheme of things, the writing itself is the most important part, and will have a bigger impact on whatever success we attain.
Especially early on in our careers.
I mean, if Ms. Wildly-Successful, Million-Selling Author wants to spend much of her time administering her charitable foundation or whatever, her career is probably going to be okay because she’s a known successful commodity with nothing to prove. But when we’re lower on the ladder, we do have something to prove. And by far the best (and pretty much only) way to prove that is to place a really strong manuscript in the hands of an agent, editor, or reader. And of course, the only way to do that is to write that manuscript first. (And then, yes, we have to do a bit of EE regarding getting said manuscript into the hands of that agent, editor, or reader.)
So maybe I’m talking to myself here as much as anyone else. So maybe I’ll end this here. And maybe I’ll get back to work.
This is where I write about things that are of interest to me and which I think may be of interest to you. I’m assuming most of you are here due to an interest in reading, writing, editing, publishing, etc., so that’s the primary focus.