The Hobbyist Writer & Understanding Goals

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“Do you consider writing to be a Hobby alone? Or do you intend to build a business around it”

This is a question I often ask people who approach me with the idea of writing and self-publishing a book. Mostly young people who are new to the industry and do not have a lot of information about how to go about the Self-Publishing process. So I thought I’d write about it here since I was recently approached by a young woman who’s writing her first novel (yayy her!). The core of the question is this: What goals do you have for this book? Is it the first of many or something you just want to try and see where it takes you? Do you plan to become an author with websites and blogs and networks or is this just something you want to put out to see your name in print? Do you plan to publish Traditionally or Self-Publish?

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It benefits to weigh the pros and cons of self-publishing and traditional publishing. Even though I’m a Self-Publisher, by looking into TP (the unofficial abbreviation for Traditional Publishing), I’ve learned a lot in my career. I’ve learned how to be better organized for example. I have always said myself: “if you don’t think you can put in the work necessary for self-publishing, it may be a good idea not to.” But I have learned too that everyone does not have this option, though they have this option. For most people, the option to publish traditionally flies out the window at the thought that it will never happen because it’s based on the approval of someone outside of themselves and it is therefore no guarantee. But as a result, they blindly plunge into this ever growing sea of books and fall into the category of a Hobbyist Writer.

What is a Hobbyist Writer? Something I made up. But, more specifically, a Hobbyist Writer is someone who’s infatuated with the idea of publishing. There is no specific goal or reasoning behind publishing the book except to see what it’s like to hold its preciousness between your fingers and bask in the awe of what you’ve done. The internet has made it easy to publish almost anything. Thus, there are waves of new authors out there who write specifically to publish their work and to see it in print. I think this is great. On the other hand, if you plan to get more serious and organized, to simply write books and publish them without vision, or direction does nothing for your writing career. So know what you want and the requirements to obtain it. Writing a book doesn’t have to mean you want to publish it and publishing a book doesn’t mean you want to sell it. Thanks to today’s technology, we have these options. You can sell a book or you can just give it away for free. So I would definitely say to clearly define your goals before stepping out. A goal is a desired result that a person or a system envisions, plans and commits to achieve and in my opinion does tend to change over time.

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Personally, I publish often, at least once a year (with the exception of this year, where I plan to publish three books as part of a short story series) because I like writing and I think the best way to polish any skill is to do it often. And I do hope that the more I engage in the process, the better at it I’ll become and the more people I’ll reach. What I enjoy most is that with each book I learn something new, and I am able to add that to my stored chamber of experience. Though I write a lot, I do not consider myself a Hobbyist Writer because the desired result, the end game if you will, is to build something greater than a sea of published books. There’s a lot I want to do eventually that go beyond writing my own books. At the same time, I like to keep everything organized and this is when the business me kicks in. I believe that everything you do, whether you get paid or not, should be done with some level of professionalism. So if you’re going to write a book, it should have some level of significance even if it’s just a hobby. If nothing else, I have learned that if you don’t place value on your work, no one will. And that’s why established and clearly set goals are important; it adds value to the work. Whether that work comprises something you just want to try or something you want to build on.

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Guest Feature – Change

From: http://www.keepinspiring.me/.

Great Advice. Short but fulfilling. I especially love the last sentence. It is in my opinion the most important part of the entire post:

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“Change can come in many forms in our lives. It might come forcefully like a tidal wave, or creep along incrementally like a glacier. It might come in the form of devastating tragedy, difficult choices, broken relationships, or even new opportunities.

But even though change is often difficult, many times it’s also for the best. Accomplishing anything great in life requires significant change that pushes us beyond our comfort zones. Many times, the only way to improve our lives is to force ourselves to undergo difficult change. That might mean breaking up and leaving a stale – but comfortable – relationship, leaving a mediocre – but stable – job, moving away from a nice – but uninspiring – location, or anything else that’s holding us back from accomplishing our dreams.
Of course, dealing with uninvited change in our lives is often difficult and painful. In many cases, instigating major, but necessary, change in our life can be just as painful. But whatever change you’re dealing with, know that how you cope with that change will have an impact on your future.”

To Move a Mountain

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“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” – Proverb

So I have a very important writing endeavor coming up and it’s a really big deal. I will be among nine other writers to take part and not everyone’s script is guaranteed to make the final cut. With just a small window available to get it written, it made me think of this quote. A huge job or task only seems impossible because for the most part, we are trying to do it all at once. When I think about projects it’s usually the finished product. I think about how to go about completing the entire project but in truth that just makes it more difficult than it has to be.

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When I was in High School (well technically I had graduated but we were still in the summer months following graduation), I was chosen to take part in this program. The program was called “Paint the Town”, in which a group of former students sacrificed the rest of the summer to get together and perform one final project on behalf of the school. Since we were no longer students and really didn’t need the credit this was a paid job, so you know we were in. Some of us were already working summer jobs and preparing ourselves to start College the next semester. The job was to paint a mural on a concrete wall in the neighborhood. Initially, it seemed overwhelming because we had to complete the entire wall before the end of the program. Not to mention that we were not professional artists, we were former High School students guided only by the school’s Art teacher. Our job was to decide on a theme, draw out a blueprint and decided how to transfer our vision from paper to an outside concrete wall. It was no easy task as we struggled to decide what was important enough to leave its mark on this wall forever, or for as long as the elements didn’t wash it away. However, once we decided to break it down into parts and sections, and delegate those sections to certain individuals or teams, it didn’t seem like such a large mountain to move. We were able to see the possibility of it all coming together and today, I can walk down that same Chicago Street and still see my name carved among those who participated in the program that took place nine years ago.

When you are faced with an important job, try not to take it all in, but see it coming in slow, a little at a time and eventually the whole picture will come together. It is only when we try to move the mountain in one sitting that we overwhelm ourselves. Just take it one stone at a time; you’ll get there eventually if you remain diligent.

Does Your Blog Reflect Your Purpose?

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This is a question I ask myself often. I must admit it didn’t turn out to be what I initially intended it to be, but that’s a good thing. Personally I think it’s important to be reminded of the answer to this question every now and again. It doesn’t just help me to stay focused on my objectives, but it can also help to produce post ideas. I know that the primary challenge to blogging is to come up with ideas to surround a post. The funny thing about this though is that many of you already have a lifetime worth of post right there in your head. The challenge then is not to consider what to write about, but to dig into your purpose for writing in the first place and connect that with the moment at hand. There’s this exercise I like to do when I’m stumped on what to publish each day. The exercise is that I pretty much just sit around! It looks like I’m staring out in space sure, but there’s a lot actually going on here. I’m digging into the moment. I stop and think about what is happening right now. It may just be the hum of a heater, the ticking of a clock, the whispered conversations of others or the constant stream of updates from CNN. Silently and attentively all of these seemingly unrelated happenings can easily culminate in a nice short story, a poem, or a random list of whatever.

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I’m not sure what direction this blogging thing could go. I would like to add more short stories, more poetry and more insight into the Self-Publishing world for sure. I also plan to continue with the daily quotes that concludes each days posts. Speaking of which, quotes were not part of my initial purpose for this blog. The quote thing actually came from how I usually interact on Facebook under my personal account, where I post lots of inspirational quotes. I decided later to add them here because there is more room to expound, plus I don’t like Facebook like that. As I polished my goals and plans for this blogging thing, I decided that since I like happy people, why not implement something for that purpose. So I think quotes are important to keep up with the inspiration aspect of my purpose.

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Quotes from other authors, writers, and poets are such a refreshing part of the motivation a lot of people need to keep going. Reading other people’s work is also one of the best ways to learn a new skill. And let us not forget about Recipe Sundays! For a little over a month now I’ve been posting delicious recipes to this blog every Sunday which was definitely not part of the plan. How exactly did this begin? To start, I just happen to love recipes. I’m actually not much of a cook (my husband’s the chef around here) so recipes helps motivate me to cook and to find the easiest, yet most delicious ways to do so. The Sunday part is simply because I’m usually at home on Sundays. Because of my already hectic every day schedule, Sundays have become my day to do it all, cook, clean, and anything else left lingering around during the week. I didn’t create a category for Recipe Sundays because I wasn’t sure if I could stay consistent with it, but maybe that is something I will implement to make it easier to find.

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In the end, my hope is to produce quality posts that are not just words to publish for the sake of publishing, but words of substance, of flesh and of bone. Words that don’t just capture your attention but come frequently; complete with all the hunger and thirst that is needed to stick around. I suppose my hope for this blog is that I can transform it into the living, breathing personification of all the symbolism that embodies Pearls Before Swine. We’ll see where it takes us.

Dreams are Over-Rated

No, not those dreams, the other dreams. The ones we are taught to reach for.

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Ever get tired of hearing people talk about dreams and dreaming? It’s like the whole world is dancing in fairy tales. I think vision is great, but it is not the same thing as action. It isn’t the same as taking an idea and turning it into a full manifestation of being. Taking a thought and materializing it into something tangible. To dream is cool. In fact, I have enough dreams to build castles in the air, but dreaming isn’t the same as doing. I used to sleep, and as such I used to dream. But if I consider myself one to have been awakened, if I operate under full consciousness and awareness, I must do more than just dream, I must also act.