Finding joy and purpose in how you share

I want to invite you to an online workshop with me next Friday May 13th at 1pm ET . We will discuss finding joy and purpose in how you share. Register here. Okay, onto today’s message:

So many writers I speak to (including two writers I met this week) tell me about how overwhelmed they are with all they are doing, and all they are told they must do in order to share their work with readers. Today I want to encourage you to do something different:

Do less.

Consider this: what if you just focused on one or two things. But did them really really well? In the recent workshop I ran on book launches, I talked a little about this. When I work with a writer to prepare for their book launch, typically we will craft one to three marketing campaigns. Part of this process is to choose what they will do, but also what they won’t do. I find that this choice is empowering, to let go of the guilt of not “doing it all.”

I would rather you focus on two things in the process for what you share around your writing:

  1. Optimizing for joy. To ensure the experience is fulfilling to you.
  2. Creating meaningful moments for your readers.

Everything else kinda gets in the way. So for a certain writer, that may mean skipping applying for awards, avoiding doing giveaways, not worrying about optimizing for SEO, skipping an ad strategy, and so much else. But instead, they focus that energy on one thing that will truly feel good in how they share their work.

Does that sound unprofessional? As if we are skipping some kind of industry “must do”? I’m fine with that. I’ve just seen too many writers run themselves into the ground because they are told to do a million things, and end up feeling burned out and bitter. I want you to feel a sense of joy and purpose in how you share your writing. I want it to be a part of a your journey as a creator, where one book launch leads to the next, as you grow as a person, and have meaningful experiences with readers.

To illustrate this, I want to talk about… doughnuts.

In 2001 I was renting an apartment in a house, when a woman moved in next door. We met on my front lawn one day, and now we’ve been married for more than 18 years. Three blocks away was this little shop that sold bread called The Bread Company. It had strange early morning hours, so it was rarely open when I walked by it. At the time, the street it was located was a sleepy little corner of town.

That shop closed and in its place Rachel Wyman​ established a new business: Montclair Bread Company. Soon after she moved the bakery across the street to this huge building that used to house a motor vehicle inspection station. Their stature just grew and grew.

I’ve never been to this store. I’ve never tasted their food. I have never met the owner. But they make baked goods, which I love, so I follow them on social media. I mean, who doesn’t want to see more baked goods?!

Yesterday I saw they made a huge announcement. Instead of selling pastries and breakfast food and pizza and bread and lunch sandwiches and cookies…. they will only be selling doughnuts. For years, doughnuts were their speciality, but they also offered a wider menu. I imagine this gave them an expansive customer base, and had them thriving not just in selling baked goods, but having a breakfast crowd, a lunch crowd, etc. So this means a lot of changes:

  • A brand new company name
  • A total change in their menu
  • A new business model
  • A second location in upstate New York
  • I get the sense they may open more locations across the country
  • Expanding their mail order business
  • New product lines
  • Expansion of wholesale, etc.

The owner has chosen to focus on her true passion. This, of course, is not out of the blue. She wrote a book on doughnuts that was published last year, and doughnuts have clearly been their biggest seller awhile now. She is doubling down on what matters most to her, to her customers, and the future she wants to create.

I mean, why be just another bakery that also sells lunch, which has to master 100 crafts, when you can become a world-famous doughnut shop that can continue to innovate in one area?

I find that we tend to resist making polarizing choices because we worry it will limit our possibilities. We only see the limitations as: “If I only do this one thing, that means I can’t also follow this trend and that trend, and do that thing I heard about in a podcast, and that other thing I read in a blog, and do the thing someone mentioned on social media the other day…” Of course, I love the idea of possibility. Having grown up as an artist and spending all of my time with writers and creators, possibility is baked into why we do this.

But choosing is where the magic happens.

This is why I focus so much in my work on encouraging you to focus on individual readers. To create moments and connections that will truly matter. To consider how your writing can bring joy and purpose to someone’s life. Where you put your focus — on choosing to do less (but do it really well) — is part of that.

Please join me Friday May 13th at 1pm ET where we will discuss finding joy and purpose in how you share. Register here.