C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Writers: On Confidence

I just listened to a Tim Ferriss podcast with designer Debbie Millman. Good Q&A about designing our lives.  One of the takeaways for me was about confidence. Ms. Millman interviewed many successful people. She encountered only two who didn’t feel like impostors teetering on the precipice of defeat. The confident pair were octogenarians with long records of success. For everyone else, success is a moving target, ephemeral and slippery.

If you don’t feel successful, it’s okay. Even after you have some measure of success, chances are good you won’t feel big enough for your britches even then. On the other hand, I have run into individuals who are stunningly confident. They’re probably deluded examples of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. According to Wikipedia:

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is.

From my experience, the people in publishing who sound most sure of world domination are novices. They tend to look at book publishing as a lottery and they’re a little too positive they’ve got the winning ticket with their first book.

The veterans have seen more failure so they aren’t betting on one book. They tend to look at each book as a journey, an exploration and an experiment. They also tend to look back on earlier efforts with some measure of regret: the writing that could have been improved upon or marketing mistakes were committed. More experienced authors appear more laid back about whether something hits. Even as they do a lot of smart things that make a heavy ROI more likely, they’re sanguine. They keep on producing. They don’t get sucked into review rages, shame spirals, bravado or defensiveness.

As a writer, it’s nice to have confidence but it’s not necessary. Do the work and enjoy the process more. Writing is its own reward first. Turning readers into fans is a separate thing, very different from facing the page and spinning out gold ink. 

Don’t worry about how much self-assuredness you possess or how little you’ve yet to earn. Confidence is a big soft pillow. It feels good until the stuffing gets knocked out of it. 

Just write.

~ I write science fiction, urban fantasy, apocalyptic epics and crime thrillers. Please do check out my books and podcasts on my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

 

Filed under: authors and money, publishing, Writers, writing, writing advice, , , , , ,

Writing and the Day Job: When dreams don’t come true on schedule

Let’s get a myth out of the way immediately.

Some writers say it’s a rule that a day job keeps writers in touch with the real world and, to be good, writers need real world interactions to draw upon for their fiction. Maybe that’s true for them and their process. I had enough drama to draw from before I left home as a teenager. I deal in fiction. Imagination and Google are more useful to me than interactions with actual humans in Meat Space.

Meat Space humans are difficult for me to deal with. I see the world differently and they don’t all get my sense of humor. I’m a little weird and sometimes I have to make myself shut up so all the weirdness doesn’t escape at once and scare people away. In books, it’s easier. I’m supposed to be strange when I write. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you relate to that. When we go corporate, no one’s supposed to suspect our minds are active.

Even when I’m lying, I try to tell the truth.

I lie to myself about a few things, but I’m honest for readers, sometimes painfully so. That’s why I’m unveiling some vulnerability and complexity here. I wrote a post last night about going back to a day job. Fourteen years ago, I was in the same office, doing sort of the same thing. (Long story.) The point is, in the post I wrote to readers, I was emphasizing the positive. It wasn’t a lie when I wrote it. It’s not a lie as I type this.

However, sometimes my enthusiasm for my return to the real world is a lie. Starting up yet another business is creative and exciting and stressful. When my enthusiasm is down and my pride is butt-hurt, there’s a reason for that. It’s called Entitlement. As in “False sense of”. I have that affliction sometimes. I’m not proud of it. In down moments, I do feel bad about needing to return to work.

But I feel worse about the sacrifices my family has had to make to support my dream. There’s tension when the bills come in. We don’t talk about it, but we know. We don’t take vacations like all the kids’ friends do. Every purchase feels like a commitment to a serious investment. How long will this coat last? Is the van’s muffler a ghost yet? The living room rug absolutely must be burned and replaced. As mentioned in my previous post, poverty sucks.

The Revealing Question

I ran into a friend and former client who got the news I was returning to my old workplace. “Are you okay with that?” he asked.

The question was gentle and well-meaning. He knows that, for me, the last two years dedicated to writing have been the best two years of my life. When I’m at the keyboard, I’m home and having fun creating chaos. I’ve used those two years (mostly) wisely. Ah, but the question. “Are you okay with that?” Depending on my mood, it’s loaded with should haves and what ifs and worries about dealing with an unknown public.

If This Plague of Days wasn’t taking off, I’d have a huge problem with my return. It would feel like capitulation and a backwards step. I’d feel like a loser if not for the seeds of success very slowly budding. I’ve also published ten books in two years. My readership is growing. The timing would have been ideal if the growth I see now happened a year or so ago. But having a hit isn’t like that and hits don’t last, either. There are too many variables and they aren’t all under my control. To pay the bills, I have to do what I did two years ago. I’m risking starting another business.

I’m not quitting writing.

To take things to the next level, I need to have more money coming in to support my family and my imprint, Ex Parte Press. The schools seem to request more cash for projects, school trips and class support almost weekly. Bookbub promotions are not cheap. And yeah, that living room rug is a bio-hazard that no carpet cleaner can cure. Back to work I go.

The Good News

The day job isn’t so demanding in the number of hours it takes.

I can write between clients and still be very productive. In many ways, my day job will be an ideal complement. I can control my time and I still work for myself. I’ll have two businesses. That will undoubtedly diminish some book productivity, but I’ll still have more time than most writers so I should not, must not, whine.

It must also be said that in my other, newer business, I’m really good at it. There are much worse things to be doing with my time. It’s noble work that helps people and yes, I am expert. If not for that expertise and writing, I’d be looking on Monster.com for “Hired assassin”. I’ve considered dog-walking, but only if it was 1980 when nobody had to pick up after their dogs.

We do what we must. We move forward. We make what fun we can from whatever we do. That sense of entitlement with which I am sometimes afflicted? It doesn’t serve me. It doesn’t help any of us. I’m earning my readers, one at a time. Though it is deep and dark, we are finding each other in the forest. It’s going to be fine.

~ These are my books. This is the new business. Tonight, as I write this, I feel no chagrin.

Filed under: author platform, authors and money, book marketing, getting it done, self-publishing, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writers: Saving Money and Making It (Part 1)

This week we’re going to talk about writers and money.

Mostly, we’ll talk about not having any because that’s reality for most of us.

Forget the clichés about how writing in a garret or a ditch lined with beer-vomit fuels us creatively. Poverty sucks. Worrying about income and outgo all the time drains us creatively. As a guy who’s basically been unemployed for two years, I have a lot to say on this subject, but let’s start by saving you $1,200 a year or more with one phone call.

You use the Internet for research (I hope). Call whoever supplies you with TV, Internet and your phone. I did this last week. I started the conversation with, “When I leave Bell, do you guys come get the satellite dish and leave holes in my shingles or how does that work exactly?”

“Why would you want to leave Bell, sir?”

“Because I just found out a buddy of mine in the same neighborhood with roughly the same services is paying $100 less a month than I am!”

This is true, by the way. This isn’t about scamming any company. It’s about solving the problem of being overcharged.

The guy I spoke to in Billing was befuddled as to what to do with me so I took the direct approach and said, “You want to transfer me to the Retention Department now.” That’s where the magic happens. The people in Retention are authorized to massage your bill and squeeze out money and happiness for you. The communications market is becoming more competitive and they don’t want to lose a customer.

Next I spoke with a helpful fellow who went through my communications package with me. I was paying for ten features on my landline. I don’t even know what those ten features could be. I dumped all but voicemail and caller ID.

If it were up to me, I’d dump the landline altogether, but we have to keep it so obnoxious telemarketers can harass us about buying gold and cleaning our air ducts. I also dropped my long distance plan. Use Skype for long distance. Skype is free. 

We’re on the net constantly so there were no services to reduce. However, Retention guy “put a promo on it”. That means he knocked $6/month off the price because I bothered to call. That’s $72 a year on one component of the monthly bill, just because I said my bill was too high (which it was.) We also edited down the satellite package. Everybody gets a lot of channels they don’t watch. Kill them.

We haven’t noticed any loss of services or channels, but that one phone call (which took about half an hour) knocked those bills down precipitously. I haven’t got the first bill yet, but I will save about $1,600 in the next 12 months. Your mileage will vary, depending on how much you’re getting screwed to the wall by your service providers already.

In Canada, we no longer have pennies. Sure, a penny saved is a penny earned, but I’m talking about a significant amount of dough. I “earned” $1,600 in half an hour. Make the call.

Part 2 of this week’s series for writers will be about Writing and The Day Job. Stay tuned.

For an article about gratitude, readers and sneak peeks of This Plague of Days, click here.

Meanwhile, if you’re reading This Plague of Days as a serial, Episode 3 is out now!

Episode 3 of Season 2 (not Season 3 yet!) is now available. Click on the right sidebar to grab the complete Season One and Two.

Episode 3 of Season 2 (not Season 3 yet!) is now available. Click on the right sidebar to grab the complete Season One and Two.

Photo on 12-05-23 at 4.39 PM~ I’m Robert Chazz Chute. I wrote a couple of books about an autistic kid versus the zombie apocalypse. Sure, that sounds ridiculous, until you understand that it’s also an international thriller and a Latin primer. This Plague of Days, Seasons One and Two have both achieved bestseller status. I’m still broke, but that will change.

Filed under: authors and money, Rant, What about Chazz?, What about you?, Writers, , , , , , , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

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Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

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