Is Your Writing a Hobby or a Career?

There are so many writers out there. Even more books. Think of all the writers who have lived and published in the past 30 years alone. In some ways, you could think of this as your “competition for attention.” Asking yourself challenging questions such as: “What am I able to add to the lexicon that 5 others haven’t already done?” Are you trying to get an agent? Trying to get a book deal? Trying to self-publish and sell enough books to warrant a writing career? In a sea of other authors, how will you answer the question to agents, publishers, and readers: why do you matter? Why would these other people invest their resources and time in your work?

So with this in mind, I want to discuss how you will create the foundation for having an impact on the world with your work, and building a legacy that lasts beyond your own lifetime.

I think the question that gets at the crux of this issue is: Is your writing a hobby or a career? And by that, I mean:

Do you prioritize your writing career, somewhere after getting the laundry done, but before resealing the basement? Because if the slightest household chore derails your writing career for weeks, then likely, it is just a hobby.

Is your writing what defines you, but only after a long list of other things? That you are first a mother, second a wife, third an assistant financial analyst, fourth the treasurer at your local PTA, fifth a homemaker, sixth the co-chair for your regional knitting group, and seventh, a writer? This is not to diminish the value of the other 6 things listed here, and I do not mean to imply that being a writer should be first on the list. But how far down that list does it fall? After how many tasks must you accomplish before you have a moment to actually write? Because if most people you know have zero idea that you write – that it is something you NEVER bring up with friends or colleagues, then chances are, your writing is just a hobby, not a career.

Do you focus only on the craft of writing, and not the business aspects of truly building a writing career? Do you feel that you will find an audience for your work because one day, just the right person will read it, and spread it to others, like a beautiful domino effect? That it will only take that one person to provide a “viral” marketing effect, whereby thousands of others magically discover you randomly, and glom onto you, and tell everyone they know how awesome you are? Because that won’t happen. Nearly every creative professional (writer, musician, artist, etc) will tell you – it is an insane amount of work to truly succeed. That, if you are just going to wait for others to do the work for you, then chances are, your writing is just a hobby, not a career.

Are you constantly learning new things about how others created successful writing careers? By reading articles, by learning new tools, by seeking out these people and talking to them? Are you analyzing data about what works, and what doesn’t; are you constantly making yourself feel slightly uncomfortable by tackling another new topic that sounds scary (marketing, branding, contracts, revenue, ROI, licensing, rights, etc.) Because if you aren’t constantly learning, constantly pushing yourself to understand the many facets of what it means to be a professional writer, then chances are, your writing is just a hobby, not a career.

All of this begs the question: is there anything wrong with writing being a hobby, not a career? Of course not. Writing serves many purposes. It can be the key to personal growth; it can bring sanity; your work can brighten the day of a few close friends, or even a small group of distant strangers; it can lead to truly appreciating the amazing process of what it means to be alive. I have created countless works that have never been published, that have never been shared as part of a “career.” Those works allowed me to grow, they made me the person I am in so many ways. That is nothing to apologize for.

But… if you want to truly have an impact on the world, to truly build a legacy that extends beyond your lifetime, then at some point, you must make a choice. A conscious, difficult, and sometimes arduous choice to take your writing career from a hobby to a professional level. That you must start a long, oftentimes lonely journey to create something from nothing.

So how can that be done? How can you look at dozens of aisles of books in Barnes & Noble and think: I offer something not represented on these shelves – something that will have a powerful impact in the lives of others?

Well first off: that is the attitude you need!

Second… you need to understand and appreciate what differentiates your work, your purpose from others. That you should not be a commodity – something to be leveraged by others; just another box on the shelf. That in some ways, you are you are the center of a community, and a unique part of other communities. That while you may want to appeal to a broad audience, don’t vanilla down your work so that it is so bland, so afraid to be anything but a poor copy of everyone else, that your work ends up standing for nothing – another copy of a copy of copy in the great bookshelf of our times.

You get to choose your path, not become someone else’s model of what it means to be an author. You get to work the way you want to, and choose who joins you on this journey. That you can create a special experience that only you can.

Differentiation is key. This is a choice. It’s that simple. To not be a commodity. To choose your identity. To push yourself and your work to truly have an impact in the world. To build the foundation for your legacy as a writer.

973-981-8882 | Twitter: @DanBlank |

Should Writers Focus on the Craft of Writing or Building Their Audience?

Is it better for a writer to focus only on developing their craft, or also on understanding how to build and engage an audience? This is a debate that has been thriving online this year in the writing community, so I thought I would address the topic today.

The latter issue here: “building and engaging an audience” has been disparaged by using terms such as “branding,” “marketing,” “platform” and similar words. The implication is: Should Bob Dylan have spent his time in 1962 writing songs, or designing ads for his album? Does a writer corrupt their work by focusing on marketing instead of creating an amazing work of art and craft?

So for writers, I’ll also take the easy way out: For me, the answer is clearly to focus on both creating one’s work, and connecting their work to the world. Why? Because doing so provides two things that are incredibly powerful, and somewhat rare:

  • Confidence.
  • Turning intention into reality. That lots of folks TALK about having a writing career, but many of them treat their work as a hobby. That many other things take precedence to the millions of things it takes to become a successful writer.

That an inherent part of building and engaging an audience is sharing. That without sharing one’s work, it runs the risk of dying in a vacuum. Twenty years ago, that vacuum was a manuscript at the bottom of a desk drawer. Today, it is a lonely word processing file on your hard drive. Never shared, never improved based on the outside world, forever trapped in an endless and closed process of revisions. That, even a work that is only shared in writing workshops, and never “published” to readers, is a work that perhaps has no end. There is always another edit that can be made.

For many writers, that keeps their work “pure,” because it is not complete. So they don’t have to wrestle with the hard choices about publishing, marketing, connecting – because as they will tell you: “that is putting the cart before the horse.” But if a piece of writing is never completed, always in revisions, then how can it impact the world, and build your legacy as a writer?

While Bob Dylan did not spend 1962 designing ads for his work, he did spend his time in cafés, performing, speaking to those who had similar beliefs, exploring other musicians, and engaging in the world around him. He was intentional to get his music in front of others, to be where he needed to be, to meet the right people. When I speak about a writer building and engaging an audience, these are the types of activities I refer to. To be present in the community you hope that your work has an effect on. Not to be simplifying one’s work and exploiting it in exchange for money. (that’s just icky)

If A Book is Published in a Forest…
But the real risk is that once a work is ready to be shared, is if the author has no skills or foundation by which to get people to read it. So the work dies.

The act of “publishing” is not the critical part of being a writer, it is the act of being read.

The process by which their stories and ideas spread, and truly impact the world.

I have heard this chant at writing conferences and writing blogs again and again: “Write the best book possible.” “Focus only on your craft, and the world will eventually find your work and reward you.”


I’m at the age where I remember a world before the internet. A world where it wasn’t assumed that everyone would have “followers.” Where people wouldn’t complain at “only” having 48 followers, a world where that would be INCREDIBLE to have 48 followers!

When I was a kid I was an artist. When I was a teenager I began writing poetry and other forms of what was called creative writing. I got into photography. In college, I published a music fanzine, which occupied far more of my resources than college work did. (sorry mom and dad) In my twenties I became (a very poor) musician, and created a series of (unpublished) pop up books. Since then, I have gotten more and more into nonfiction writing.

Through each of these projects, I remember how hard it was to not just create the work, but to connect it with others who may appreciate it. That for many writers, artists, and musicians I knew, their work only got polite attention from friends and family. Is that enough? If you are a writer who has written for four decades, is that enough for you? That when you die, your legacy dies with you because your work never found an audience?

What is This Dreaded Word “Branding,” Anyway?
To me: “branding” is about learning how to communicate one’s purpose, the value of their work, and connecting that to the world. Not to change one’s work because of the world, just connecting to it. That many creatives stumble when asked about their novel, their art, their music. They give long convoluted explanations, half-apologizing along the way.

When you know what you are about, when you know how it taps into what others are passionate about, then you are able to make powerful and meaningful connections.

No, I’m not afraid of the word “branding” because it’s just a word. What you make of it – something restrictive or something empowering – is up to each individual. When I work with writers to develop their “brand” – it is never about putting a fake surface on top of their work. It’s always about cutting to the heart of their purpose, of the power of their work, and how that resonates in others – how it connects to the hopes and dreams of those they intend to connect with. It’s not about creating “fans.” That is a one way relationship. It’s about becoming a part of something. Together making a whole.

Building one’s platform is not about marketing. It’s NOT about creating an engine to constantly pitch others. It’s simply about being present. For me, it’s about real connections. I post my cell phone number all over the web and social media when connecting with others. Why? To show that I am a real person, and I want to connect with like-minded people. That there isn’t a barrier between us called “social media.” That I am not using social media how some people use their cars: as a barrier between themselves and others that allows you to assuage the guilt of cutting others off, speeding in a school zone, and honking.

If you call 973-981-8882, I’ll pick up. But please, I have a 1 year old at home, so call at reasonable hours!

Confidence and the Creative Process
What I believe in is a process of iteration. Where you create the best work you can, and then share it. Then you learn from that process, and create a new work as best you can, and share it. If you are forever trapped in the process of creation without sharing, without publishing and building the skills to do so, you jeopardize your entire legacy.

You don’t build a legacy based on intentions, but rather on actions.

The process of iteration challenges you in ways that are uncomfortable. But if you are open to it, you develop confidence. The confidence of a creator, and the confidence of someone who can clearly communicate the purpose and value of their work with the right people.

The reasons for this are best described on page 30 of Steve Jobs’ biography, as Jobs describes how creating and selling little illegal pieces of hardware called “Blue Boxes” to college students gave him the necessary ingredient to build a company that would change the world:

“If it hadn’t been for the Blue Boxes, there wouldn’t have been an Apple,” Jobs later reflected. “I’m 100% sure of that. Woz and I learned how to work together, and we gained the confidence that we could solve technical problems and actually put something into production.” They had created a device with a little circuit board that could control billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure. “You cannot believe how much confidence that gave us.” Woz came to the same conclusion: “It was probably a bad idea selling them, but it gave us a taste of what we could do with my engineering skills and his vision.”

Why do I advocate that writers, artists and creators put their work out there? To focus on connecting with their audience? Because it validates. Because it teaches. It educates. Because it – sometimes slowly – builds confidence.

It also gives you a fuller view of the complexity and value of your work in the world – not just in your mind. That sales is a part of a book’s lifespan. That reaction is an important part of a work. That this inherently challenges the writer/artist/creator. That it takes your work out of the locked bedroom, and sees if it has wings – a chance to grow beyond ourselves.

Is this true for every creative work? No. Some books, some albums should be created in a pure vacuum. But the critical thing is that they are shared, and the artist goes back to the studio to craft something new. I do not think that Dylan’s early career would have improved by committee, or by responding to polls and research of his audience. He pushed others in ways that were uncomfortable, and forced them to evolve in the process.

In fact, many are huge fans of his early work, but his later work (after he has put in Gladwell’s 10,000 hours) resonated with a much more limited audience. Is this bad because he didn’t create popular work? Is this good because he followed his own artistic vision? Not an easy question to answer. If you go see Dylan live, do you want to hear “The Times They Are A Changin” or do you want to hear his 1988 album ‘Down in the Groove’ in it’s entirety, ignoring all of his work from the 1960s and 70s?

Many say they don’t care about popularity, but are they saying they don’t want to be appreciated either? This answer is different for every writer, artist, and musician. And we can’t assume one person’s answer holds true for others. But what keeps someone continuing to create even when they have found no real success with their previous work?

I was lucky that my early creative work was supported and encouraged by friends, family, and the community I was a part of. Their support gave me the confidence I needed to continue to create. I think that is a major hurdle for most writers, musicians and artists. We covet. We fear. We find excuses. We get trapped in revisions. Trapped in waiting for just one more thing to do before we share it.

Create, Publish, Learn, Evolve, Repeat
I’ve talked in the past about principles of the lean startup movement, and it 100% applies here. Of not just developing your brilliant idea, but developing a feedback loop, and getting comfortable putting your ideas out there – of making creation a social process where the needs of others are built into it. You need to develop a process that helps you work past points of failure. Any story of greatness is often riddled with moments where it easily could have all fallen apart, but they had the skills to move past it to find success. You need that. We all need that!

Should the Beatles have never released an album until Sgt. Pepper? Until they had created a masterpiece? That is how some writers approach their career. All of their eggs are in one basket, instead of building a variety of skills, including learning how to share your work to find readers, not just an agent or publisher.

You have to launch to grow.

The Myth of Quality
Another part of this discussion that is often overlooked is that quality is subjective. That what one person loves, another hates. I have been to writing conferences where an author in the audience proclaims that their book is indeed the best it can be, and is better than anyone else could write it. But the topic was somehow repellent to others; there was nothing offensive about their work, it was just a topic that didn’t resonate, a cover design that didn’t resonate. I saw others actively trying to get away from conversations from this particular author. So here this person had a book they felt was great, but people were running for the hills. Was that due to the quality of the work, or their inability to communicate it’s value?

When you can’t communicate the value of your work, how can others experience its quality?

Likewise, we tend to equate the amount of time we spend honing something with the level of quality we are instilling in it. But quality and time have nothing to do with each other. Great works can be created in a moment, and no amount of editing and revision could have improved them. The hardest decision an artist makes is knowing when to put down the brush, when one more stroke will not bring to life their creative vision, but begin to destroy it.

Build the Bridge Before You Need It
One other way I want to look at this topic – considering whether a writer should focus on how they communicate their message, not just develop their craft – is to consider how they manage their writing career. So let’s consider how non-writers tend to manage their careers. You know: regular people you see day to day. This is how most careers are managed:

Someone works hard to find a job.
They get the job.
They work hard to ensure they don’t get fired.
They do good work.
They get comfortable.
They have no time for anything outside of work.
They build relationships ONLY within their company.
They build skills ONLY applicable to a very specific role within a very specific company.
They never learn to communicate to others outside of the company what they do. They rely on a business card and a title to say it all.

But then…
They get laid off.

And suddenly, they dust off their resume that hasn’t been updated in years.
They stop making fun of how boring LinkedIn is, and try to build their connections there.
They start calling people they haven’t spoken to in years.
They go to meetups in their industry that they have never even considered going to before.
They send out hundreds of resumes.

They panic, they get depressed.
They lose their identity.

But then…
They get a new job, and repeat the entire process above again.

That, oftentimes we eschew things like “branding” and “marketing” because we don’t need them at the moment. We feel pure without them. But… when your perfect work is finally done, finally published, and [if] it languishes on the shelves, suddenly, marketing becomes an interesting topic.

But is it too late by then?

Getting read and finding an audience is not about branding and marketing – it is about communication.

We See What We Want to See
We each have different heroes, and different worldviews. In the end, we will all see exactly what we want to see. I imagine Joe Konrath will tend to see stories in the world that prove self-publishing is the answer. Others see their own story – perhaps that the writer should never ever consider the marketing or business aspects of publishing. And you know what, everyone is right. What is right for you, is wrong for someone else. There is not one answer in publishing. Should you let branding and author platform kill your creative process? Of course not. Leverage them if you want. Ignore them if you want. But make a personal choice, not a black and white view of what is right for others.

So let’s all just hug and get on with writing, reading, and perhaps sharing some good conversation over hot cocoa.
973-981-8882 | Twitter: @DanBlank |

Top Blogs for Writers

What makes a great blog for writers? Write To Done is holding their 6th annual Top 10 Blogs for Writers contest.

As I looked through the nominations, I found myself considering the value of this beyond selecting a winner. That the true winner does not mean that the blog in second place (or tenth place) is any less valuable, just valuable in a different way.

There are some very cool and useful blogs that are getting a lot of nominations, including:

And many others. But why would one blog have 37 nominations and another 107? It goes beyond the age of the blog, the credibility of the author, or how well they market their work. Different blogs will resonate with different people in different ways. Some reasons:

  • Craft vs career – each blog may approach this differently, with some focusing only on the craft of writing, others on how to build a career, others how to earn money, and most with a unique mix of these.
  • Goals – Some are focused on writing their first novel, others are learning the ins and outs of self-publishing, some define success by earning money, along with many other possible goals.

But I think this is the big reason: tone and personality. In other words: who do you resonate with? Whose voice and style speaks to your heart, to your vision of what a writing life should be? Who gets your engines started? This is a highly personal reason, not an objective measure of which blog is better than others. Even for the short list of blogs above, each has a unique style. That is what I love about the thriving online community for writers – there is so much room here because everyone is so unique.

In the end, being nominated is the reward. That someone, somewhere, took action to nominate and thank you for your work as a blogger. Mostly, I am finding the nominations list really useful to discover new blogs, and be reminded why blogs I like are so powerful in helping shape people’s lives.

Who would I nominate? Jane Friedman. Why? Just a few reasons off the top of my head:

  • She is giving. What she shares is meant to empower others, and she is incredibly generous in both the amount of what she shares, and the quality of her advice.
  • She focuses on the whole writer: building a career, as well as a body of work.
  • Her blog posts discuss the best ways to leverage technology, while not having technology eat you alive.
  • She is constantly in the trenches with writers at conferences and meetups, she spent years as Publisher of Writers Digest, and now teaches at University of Cincinnati. This is to say nothing of her presence in social media and elsewhere. These interactions with writers fuel her blog with incredibly practical advice.

Check out the full list in the comments section of and add your own nomination. If you are unsure who to nominate, see the list above for some great blogs to start with. Whatever you do, do NOT vote for my blog – put your vote to Jane, or Joanna, or Jeff or someone else who inspires you as a writer, and helps you improve your work and grow your career.

973-981-8882 | Twitter: @DanBlank |

Nathan Bransford Interview: Building an Online Community for Writers

Nathan Bransford has done so much to build a community for writers online:

We explore each of these in the full interview:

Thank you Nathan for taking the time to speak with me!



Honing Your Craft vs Connecting With Your Audience

Should a writer spend their time honing their craft, working towards producing work of the highest quality – OR – should they focus their time on building their audience, connecting with others, and building their writing career?

This is a questions I have seen posed many times in many places in the past couple months. I often see people come back with a passionate answer of:


And yes, that resonates with me, that is something I can nod my head to. When I look at the great work of our culture in stories of all kinds, I find them to be breathtaking, and on high rotation in the playlist of my life.

But should writers ONLY spend their time head down, locked in the attic, creating and revising their work until it meets some standard of greatness? The more I consider this, the more I am convinced that honing your craft and connecting with your audience are not mutually exclusive activities.

So I wanted to explore this topic today. I will say up front: there are no right answers except for what works best for you personally. Whatever feels right in your gut: go with that. Okay, let’s dig in…

A Romantic Vision of the Creative Process

Oftentimes, we have a romanticized view of the creative process and success. We look for purity – we want to think our favorite singer became popular because of their sheer majestic talent alone, that there wasn’t a team of producers crafting their work, that they didn’t throw out 20 songs to come up with one amazing tune, or that they started out as goth before going alt-country.

We don’t want to know about the corporate machine – the business – behind art. The idea of the lone artist resonates with us, that they are creating their work in a cabin in the woods – completely pure. And then, magically, the world discovers their work, validates their effort, and shines a light on their gift. This is how we dream success will happen.

Oftentimes creating great work is akin to how sausage is made. You do not want to know what went into making that hot dog – you simply want to know it tastes yummy at a summer picnic.

When you hear your favorite song – it sounds impassioned, personal, it speaks directly to your heart. But even one verse can be made up of 20 takes, could have been processed in subtle ways (not something as obvious as auto-tune), and be composed of dozens of nuanced layers, all while being debated endlessly by the artist and collaborators. It’s been road tested at a dozen live shows, it’s been shared with friends for months, collecting feedback, slowly improving the performance, the rough edges.

The point is: creative work is often a long process of revision, of sharing, of iteration, of slowly adding and removing layers. In the music world, it is expected that bands will tour and play live shows endlessly before they “make it” – they hone their craft right in front of their audience. They are constantly learning about their fans, how their work connects to people, and are becoming not just better musicians, but better storytellers in the process.

For writers, yes, I love the image of JK Rowling sitting alone in the cafe, creating her little world. I. LOVE. THAT.

But I don’t want to pretend that is the only way for creators to produce quality work. That you are not allowed to come out of the attic with your work until it is amazing. I have been a writer, been an artist, been a musician. When did my work improve? When it was shared. When I took the training wheels off, and took a leap of faith to share it with someone.

Planning vs Doing

You learn so much when you share your work, connecting it with others, and listening to not just the feedback of others, but to how you yourself react to your work once it is free in the world.

This process begins to help define you as a writer, or artist, or musician or other creative. The work lives, it has been unleashed, it can’t be taken back.

For some, this is the start of their career – of their identity. They learn how to share, how to deal with reaction, how their own vision evolves, changes, and grows.

Consider the difference of practicing basketball by yourself, perfecting your moves and shooting vs playing in an actual game. The difference is night and day. It’s the same with music – the difference between spending thousands of hours practicing alone, perfecting your technique vs the experience of playing with a band. BOTH sides of this equation are useful. But something special happens when you experience your craft with others, you see it from an entirely new light. Oftentimes, it is the difference between planning and doing.

There are some things that you can’t learn until you experiences them – with real people reacting to your work, with the insights you gain that make your next piece even better. This often works best if you build it slowly over time, instead of rushing out of the gate with something to sell six weeks before your book comes out.

So how do you create quality work? By doing. By sharing. By publishing. By repeating that process.
This is the principle around the “lean startup” process for launching a business. That, instead of getting an idea for a product, and diligently building it until it is what you want it to be and THEN launching it, you launch little iterations quickly. The idea is that things rarely go according to plan. That what you think is perfect when you launch, after you have expended all the time and resources to create it, is often missing key elements. That you can never predict how people will react to it. So you should launch small “good enough” versions, get feedback, and quickly improve the product to meet the needs of others and improve overall quality.

When you share, you learn so much not just about those who do or don’t react to your work, but about the work itself, and about your own understanding of your vision and abilities.

Storytelling is a Process
For most of us, our work gets better over time. What this means is the first work we create may often be of, say, lower quality than we would like. We mean well, but we simply didn’t have the experience to craft amazing stories, or songs, or works of art yet.

But, as the saying goes, it gets better.

We try, we share, we connect. Just as bands tour their work – they learn, they grow, all through the process of creating AND sharing. It is not an event, it is a PROCESS.

Ira Glass, host of This American Life, reflects on his process of finding and sharing great stories:

“All we do is look for interesting stories, and there are 7 or 8 of us now. I have to say, more than half of our week is engaged in looking for stories and trying stuff out. We’re really good at our jobs, we are as good as anyone who does this sort of thing. Between a half and a third of everything we try, we kill it. By killing, you will make something else even better live.” (meaning they record and produce it, and then they throw it in the trash.) Not enough gets said about the importance of abandoning crap.”

It speaks to the process of creative activity. That it is a cycle of creation, of sharing, of creation, of sharing. Ira and his team aren’t sitting in a room, alone, making one story better and better. They are out there, in the world, researching, listening, creating, broadcasting, and in a constant process of creating and connecting – because both sides of the process increase quality over time.

The Subjectiveness of Quality

Let’s just say you have written one of the greatest works of your lifetime – a book that will electrify an entire generation, become one of the biggest sellers of all time, and create a billion dollar empire. Here is the reaction that JK Rowling’s literary agent got when they approached publishers:

“The agency sent Rowling’s 200-page script to 12 publishers, all of whom, to their eternal regret, turned down the book. Harper Collins showed interest but was too slow in formulating a bid and so the first book by the most lucrative writer in the world was picked up by Bloomsbury for an advance of £1,500.”

Or how about another writer’s story. After being rejected by more than 20 publishers…

Early in 1965, Frank Herbert received good news from a surprising source. Chilton Books, best known for publishing auto repair manuals, made an offer of $7,500 (plus future royalties) to publish the three Dune segments.”

Once these writers received 10 rejection letters, should they have gone back to revisions, back to their cabin in the woods, to somehow increase the quality of what have since become classics?

The Confidence Game

Oftentimes the biggest the biggest barrier to someone who wants to create something is themselves. They create a document on their computer – a story, a song, a poem, and image, a video – and they never share it.

Success relies on more than the quality of work. Lots of quality work goes unnoticed. Lots of brilliant people die alone, unknown, without any measure of success or legacy.

Being successful is often as much about confidence, as it is about anything else. Confidence to create. Confidence to share. Confidence to persevere.

I have found that if you share something you are working on with JUST ONE PERSON, a whole new world of possibilities opens up. We live in a world where having “only” 32 followers on Twitter is disappointing. Imagine that – 32 FANS! Never before could you do that, especially on your own, without affiliation of a larger entity.

This is well summed up in this mention from Nathan Bransford’s blog/forum:

“Comment! of! the! Week! I really liked Cathy Yardley’s answer about what she wished she had known when she started writing, because it’s something I believe in wholeheartedly:”

“I wish I’d know that everybody writes alone, but nobody becomes a writing success that way. Not just the critique aspect, but the support. It’s too tough a business to lone wolf.”

Clearly – the goal is to produce quality work – stuff that will shape our culture, touch our hearts, inspire others to greatness, and leave a legacy long after we are gone. And I think that what I am describing in that post is one process to achieve work of the highest quality.

Is this hard work with no clear roadmap? Oftentimes, yes. But I will leave you with this quote from comedian Louis C.K.:

“I’ve learned from experience that if you work harder at it, and apply more energy and time to it, and more consistency, you get a better result. It comes from the work. I remember seeing this thing, a documentary about a Los Angeles coach [John Wooden], the guy who coached UCLA to huge wins, so they couldn’t be beat for three seasons. He’s a very legendary coach, but a very unassuming guy with thick glasses. They just won and won and won. They talked about the difference between him and, like, Bobby Knight and Vince Lombardi. He didn’t make winning speeches. He never made speeches about being winners and being the best, like, “This is our house,” that kind of horsesh*t. Never said it. He said that to focus on that, to win, win, win, is worthless. It just has no value. He’d address all his players in his little voice, “If you just listen to me, and you work on your fundamentals and you apply yourself to working on these skills, you’re probably going to be happy with the results.” I think about that all the time.”