Writers As Entrepreneurs
Entrepeneurs are people who set up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit. Whilst many writers are also producers, publishers or business owners as well, I am not necessarily talking about financial risks in this post.
Instead, I believe ALL writers should be entrepreneurs in terms of their investment in their writing.
This may be financial but is more likely to be an investment of time and learning.
So if you’re ready to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit as a writer, read on … Let’s go!
1) Entrepreneurs Know Their Market
No entrepreneurs worth their salt launch a product or service WITHOUT testing the market first. That’s a recipe for losing all your money in an epic crash and burn.
Substitute ‘money’ for time when it comes to speculative writing. Writers often launch into HOURS AND HOURS of writing without working out who their audience is.
When B2W asks them who it’s for, they’ll just shrug and say ‘everyone’ … yet NOTHING is for everyone, including stories.
Sometimes writers will claim knowing your audience is ‘selling out’. Yet most writers want to SELL their writing somehow (or themselves, via sample scripts). How are you going to do the latter if you don’t know who your writing is for and why those people will like it?
KEY TAKEAWAY: You need to know WHO your writing is for and WHY.
2) They Understand Failure Is A Learning Experience
Thomas Edison famously said ‘I didn’t fail. I found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.’ If that isn’t applicable to writing, I don’t know what is.
It’s a fact the more successful writers fail the most. If that sounds weird to you, maybe you should reframe how you view failure and success?
KEY TAKEAWAY: Never think of a failure as the end of the road.
3) They Realise ‘Return on Investment’ (R.O.I) Is Key
Return on investment is a financial term. It basically refers to the notion of ‘you get out what you put in’. So if you don’t get enough out in comparison to that cost, that’s when you should pull your investment.
Most of us writers have a high R.O.I. Whilst we may not earn stacks of £££$$$ from our writing, the satisfaction we get is usually enough.
But sometimes a writer will tell B2W that writing is making them miserable. My answer is always: ‘Why do it then?’
9/10 the writer is just feeling despondent because of rejection or projects going belly-up. They will tell me they *do* like writing really, it’s just a rough patch.
Occasionally however a writer will say they HATE writing regardless of any rejection – or even success! – they achieve.
To those writers I say, ‘STOP!’
Life is too short to be doing anything where our return on investment is so low. Seriously, do something else … anything that makes you happy!
KEY TAKEAWAY: You need to understand WHY you’re doing this and WHAT you hope to gain to decide if it’s worth it. MORE: How To Stop Being An Unhappy Writer
4) They Understand Things Are Constantly In Flux
Lots of writers want everything to stay the same. This is not how writing works.
Stories may be ‘classics’ to you but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect or even relevant to new generations. All stories date, audience preferences will change and technology advances. That’s just the way of it.
Just as many writers believe it’s possible to create a story that is ‘perfect’, or a time when stories are never ‘problematic’ (whatever that means). This may be related to writing craft or social justice issues … but neither will happen. Why?
Because ALL stories date, audience preferences will change and technology advances!
Instead of freaking out, go with the flow.
KEY TAKEAWAY: You need to understand things change and always will.
5) Entrepreneurs Know When To Quit
This is why R.O.I is so important. Writing is hard and the odds are against us from the offset. Instead of ‘flogging a dead horse’ when it comes to a particular project, or contact, or whatever, we need to quit.
That doesn’t mean have to mean quitting writing altogether … it just means protecting ourselves and ensuring we get what we need.
KEY TAKEAWAY: If you’re not gaining anything for YOU? Now is the time to let that particular thing go.
Entrepreneurs INVEST Time (They Don’t WASTE Time)
Lots of writers bang their heads against a brick wall with various drafts of their stories.
Many won’t listen when I suggest they try a different approach with ANOTHER story.
Instead, they’ll say they ‘spent ages’ on that first story. They believe that they will have ‘wasted their time’ if they put it away.
They’ve got it backwards.
NO time spent writing is ‘wasted’ … if nothing else, you’ve honed your craft by writing it.
The wasted time comes from refusing to move on, ie. banging their head against a brick wall.
So don’t waste time by slamming into those closed doors. Always invest your time wisely.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Don’t keep going with strategies & stories that are proven NOT to work. MORE: The 1 Epic Mistake Nearly ALL Writers Make