A lot of people think that business is the opposite of the arts.
In fact, sometimes I find it helpful to think about my writing like a miniature, one-man business.
Every business has limited resources and strives to use them to maximize productivity and profit. Likewise, every writer has limited time, energy, and money to dedicate to writing but wants to write as well as possible given those constraints.
So let’s take a look at one thing writers can learn from thinking about themselves as businesses.
Businesses are typically organized into departments, each of which serves a function critical to the success of the whole.
Without a marketing department, for example, most businesses would fail. Accordingly, most writers will fail if they don’t engage in marketing activities, like monitoring competitors, observing trends in the field, and analyzing their brand strengths.
Image courtesy of posterize / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Let’s go through these departments one by one, and see how they can apply to your own writing:
Your inner CEO.
This department manages all the others and is responsible for the overall success of your writing.
How is your writing going? Which areas are working well? Which need improvement? What’s your three-year strategy and plan?
Finance & Accounting
Your inner CFO.
Although it’s less expensive than many other artistic pursuits, writing does have a financial side. Writing takes time, and time is money.
Can you afford to write? How do you pay for your leisure time? Are your story inventory levels high or low? What’s your turnover ratio?
Your inner CHRO.
Writers are people, too. You need to take care of the human being behind the writing. Know when to push yourself and when to relent. Understand your strengths and weaknesses.
Do you need professional development (e.g., to take a social media class)? Are there any intra-departmental disputes that need resolution? What kind of hours are you clocking?
Information Technology and Research & Development
Your inner CTO.
We’ve come a long way from quill and ink. There’s a range of tools available to make writing easier, more fun, and more effective.
Is your technology inhibiting or encouraging you? Would Scrivener help? (If so, consult your inner CFO.) Are there free programs you haven’t explored yet, like Workflowy?
Marketing & Sales
Your inner CMO.
Unless you’re writing purely for your own enjoyment, you have to monitor competitors and trends in writing, publishing, and the economy; research customers; and create new products (e.g. short stories, poems, novels, etc.), all with a mind to what will sell. Then you have to sell it.
Is this story publishable? How will I pitch it? Has it already been written? How much demand is there for this genre? Should I develop a web presence for my author brand?
Operations & Manufacturing
Your inner COO.
Because you actually have to write, too, or this is all just a philosophical exercise.
How much time did you spend writing this week? Do you have a strong supply chain that generates raw ideas and turns them into polished final drafts?
In order to be successful, writers need each of their “departments” to be functioning well, from operations and finance to marketing and research & development.
Chances are, some of these areas come easily to you, others not so much. That’s fine! These are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
Rely on your strengths to lift up your writing. But don’t neglect your weaknesses, because they can draft your writing down. Work on them, too. Sometimes, just being aware of your weaknesses is enough to help you take a big step forward.
By improving in those areas that don’t come naturally to you, you’ll make yourself a stronger, more complete writer.
Writer, Inc.’s bottom line will thank you for it.
Image courtesy of Nutdanai / FreeDigitalPhotos.net