This week was the release of the book Author in Progress, for which I contributed an essay.
If you are working on a book or other creative project, today I want to share some observations of what I have learned in the process of releasing this book.
Let’s dig in…
Publishing a book is not a solitary effort. For Author in Progress, there are more than 50 contributors. The book is the work of Therese Walsh, who co-founded WriterUnboxed.com with Kathleen Bolton in 2006.
In that time, she has invited dozens of people to become guest bloggers, and others have helped her manage the website, their social media, conference, and advise on strategic direction.
The book, with 50+ contributors is a reflection of the collaborative nature of Writer Unboxed. It’s funny, I’m so used to the thriving comments in their blog posts, that I miss seeing commenters within the essays of the book!
The book is published by Writer’s Digest Books, and there is an entire team of people who helped make this book a reality who are not listed on the cover. In all, I imagine more than 100 people have had a hand in this book becoming a reality.
Play the Long Game
Every day, new people take a stab at writing a book or some other creative project. They get excited at the possibilities, and they embark on a project. Many lose steam. Perhaps it is for personal reasons, or maybe they thought a hot new trend would propel them to immediate success. When it doesn’t, they move on.
By simply not stopping, you differentiate yourself from most people who pursue your craft.
In the decade that Writer Unboxed has existed, they have published what I estimate to be more than 3,500 posts. I began contributing to the site back in 2012, and have published 50+ pieces since then.
About a year ago, I remember reading a Tweet from someone that said something like, “In the future, everyone will have a podcast for 15 episodes.” What they meant was that the podcast trend was becoming so big, that it seemed everyone was taking a shot at it, with most people stopping after around 15 episodes.
How do you differentiate yourself in that environment? Beyond pure quality; beyond collaboration; it can come down to brute force: publish 3,500 episodes.
That is what Writer Unboxed did. They persisted through the heyday of blogging, the “death” of blogging, the renaissance of blogging, and the “oops, its dead again” period of blogging. They simply never stopped.
Marry your vision with action
Ira Glass has this great quote about what it means to connect your work to your vision of what it can be:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.”
When you look at Writer Unboxed, you may think “This is cool, I could totally do this.” What you don’t see is the thousands of decisions that Therese and Kathleen have made over the years. The thousands of negotiations. The thousands of little failures. You don’t see the late night worries. You don’t see how they had to stick to their guns with some difficult decisions and compromise on others.
What you don’t see is the journey to match what Ira calls their “taste” — their standards — to reality.
Every day for a decade, they had a vision. But they also took action.
Thank you Writer Unboxed
I sent Therese the final draft of my essay for Author in Progress on February 8th. Now, eight months later, it is in print.
Here is the first blog post on Writer Unboxed from January 2006.
One blog post — one conversation — at a time, Therese and Kathleen built something. After 10 years, they can hold a token of that in their hand with the book. It was not a zero-to-launch mentality, but rather it is the culmination of having a vision, developing a message, a fan base of die-hard supporters, and a reputation for caring.
Thank you to Therese, Kathleen, and the Writer Unboxed community for allowing me to be a small part of what you have created.