Writer’s Platform–Or Hangman’s Gallows?

Like, what the hell, right?

Gotta have a platform.

Have to make it a priority.

Only five minutes a day!

Do it or doom yourself to obscurity (i.e., no sales)….

A PLATFORM.

Ooooh, the very word strikes fear in grown children.

“What is this ‘plat-form’ of which you speak?”, you might very well ask. Ah, go back and click the “plat-form” hyperlink. But, in a nutshell and according to the linked Christina Katz article, it’s what makes you more visible and appealing to your readership. A way to make a name for yourself, to…pun intended…stand above the crowd.

And we all know what else has one stand above a crowd, elevated platform, trap door, 8-13  turns of rope, and all?

I just finished reading a Writer’s Digest article about “50 Simple Ways To Build Your Platform In 5 Minutes A Day.” It was in the March/April 2011 issue, page 40. I have to admit, I loved the article. It gave all kinds of neat little ways to do just this, and I am going to be revisiting this article multiple times as I attempt to implement its ideas.

But, really, five minutes?

There are very few publically acceptable things one can do in five minutes, and as I reread this article, I believe this was more about pulling in readers than actually spending only five minutes a day doing some of this stuff (though the argument could be made), because, once you start doing it, you’ll end up spending way more than just five minutes. That’s the thing about promotion, once you get into these things, it’s easy to keep going, cause time flies. But, read the article…there’s a lot of great, specific, and easy to do ideas, five minutes or not.

Luckily, I don’t yet have a book deal (self-published novel notwithstanding), so I have all the time in the world to get around to these….

Which brings me to Bree Ervin, of Think Banned Thoughts. She posted about how can people like us squeeze even more out of our busy days, while still trying to work a minimum of two jobs, maintain relationships/raise families, and keep any semblance of sanity and a healthy body.

In a word:  we can’t.

At least not without sucking from other already pared down areas of our lives. The sad truth of this is that the only way to do something like this, is for some other area(s) in our lives that have already been deemed important enough to keep doing is made to suffer.

You could not wind down from your insane day in whatever way you’ve been doing so and invest in more caffeine…

You could get back in front of that PC when you get home from your day job instead of talking and interacting and being with your loved ones…

You could get one of them laptop lap desks and bring both into the bathroom when you’re on the john (but, yeah, this one gets complicated when it’s time to, you know)…

You could not go to the gym–hey, that’d free up an hour or two! Why not give up physical fitness altogether? Who needs it, if all you’re really doing all day is sitting behind computers, right?

And kids? Easy one. Let em free range! If it works for pets and cattle, it should work for children even better because they can actually make decisions. Just set out bowls of water and Cheerios…

Am I wrong?

Make it a priority.

Problem is…if we give up so much of what makes us us, something wrong happens. I know, plenty have and are doing it. Are fanatical about it. Have no time for those who can’t seem to find the same time or priorities, and publishers are getting more and more demanding about every author devoting more and more of their lives than they actually have to doing this kind of stuff.

Giving up the body.

Sure, noble. But, thing is, many of us are already giving up the body for our day jobs and what writing time we can carve out of our days. And there’s only so much body to go around.

So this is where the difficult part comes in, Bree. You’ll actually end up writing less. Yes, less, because all you can do is try, and by that I mean you’ll have to round Robin what will suffer in your already packed, everything-already-deemed-important life. When we blog, or do any of those other 50 “five-minute thingees,” we won’t get manuscript work done. That’s it. We’ll occasionally only get five hours of sleep, or see thirty minutes of our loved ones before those five hours of sleep, but that’s how it’s done. But you have to keep doing the other things that make you, you.

And, of course, making it up to family in other ways. That’s just how life works, unless you can Zen Master it by warping time (working on that one, myself…).

And…if anyone lands a full-time writing gig, they can quit their other jobs, but writing full time won’t exactly be a picnic, neither. Then you’ll have to do all those 50 things and more. AND have to work with an editor to rework your manuscript that you already thought was “finished” and get that in yesterday, and have to start and keep going on your new manuscript. And Facebook. And Twitter. And Book signings and conferences. And <fill-in-the-blank-cause-the-busy-just-keep-getting-busier-never-less-busy>. There will be no reprieve, but at least then, you’ll be doing exactly what your whole life’s struggle has been about.

Writing.

Just try not to lose yourself or your loved ones in the process.

Rick Hanson, a friend of mine who has since passed away, and was author of the Adam McCleet series (which I love!), once told me that he’d sometimes wished he’d never gotten a book deal because he was always rushing to beat deadlines and it seemed to take the fun out things. He also had a day job. Miss ya, Rick.

Hang loose, friends….

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About fpdorchak

Paranormal fiction author.
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9 Responses to Writer’s Platform–Or Hangman’s Gallows?

  1. thinkbannedthoughts says:

    Great post. You really hit the mail on the head. In the end I guess that is what is meant by “make it a priority”. In order to do that you have to make something else less of a priority.

    I too am working on the Zen-master time warp trick. I’ve also pretty much resigned myself to not eating or sleeping for the next couple years.

    But, I like my kids and husband too much to demote them and I do so need to write to be happy. And… twitting/facebooking/blogging and “platform building” is now a required piece of that puzzle.

    So, farewell sleep, so long leisurely meals (except dinner which I have around a table, with my family every night no matter what else is happening in the universe.)

    Hello brave new world 😉

    • fpdorchak says:

      Thanks, Bree, but do so with care–and occasionally take breaks–like a week off from ALL writing to recharge (catch up on sleep, family ties, etc.). One week isn’t gonna hurt anything. I could go on and on in my reply here, as many books and authors already have…but just keep a sense of self and be smart about how you (and all of us) go about doing all this. Remember who you are and the other people in our lives. Adopt a Zen mindset about the JOURNEY versus the END RESULT.

      “Fast” isn’t the answer to everything.

      Thanks for stopping by, and it was fun reading your posts!

    • fpdorchak says:

      Scary, huh? Yet, getting to those “5 minutes” in mansucript writing can seem so problematic, sometimes with energy levels, e-mail, FB, Twitter, snail mail, watering plants (and family), blog posts….

      Thanks for stopping by, Nancy!

  2. Yes, indeed. I remind myself regularly to enjoy the writing before the book comes out since it will be far less enjoyable when they are breathing down my neck for number two. BUT I also realize that too much enjoyment and my sometimes lazy approach of distracting myself from the work sabotages (I’m very good at that). And the marketing. I don’t hate it (I’ve done lots of pre-marketing of myself, getting read in smaller venues, speaking engagements etc. But I am taking detours off the currently meandering path.

    • fpdorchak says:

      Thing is, Karen, when you maintain a continued, charging, intense focus for so long like we have trying to break in, you can exhaust your spirit. And looking to CONTINUE said momentum once picked up may not help matters, what with the dumping of EVERYTHING PROMOTION into the authors lap, especially when most authors will still have to maintain full-time day jobs and now also have to output books like clockwork. Once you’re “in” it may be different in terms of that mindset, because you’ve mentally “made it”…but other issues will most certainly arise from “being in the industry,” like mentioned about with promotion. It’s the proverbial definition of insanity and beating one’s head against a brick wall every day. And there’s only so much body to give up. So it seems to me we all need to better pace our efforts, cultivate the needed mindset, and remember who we are. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying what we’re doing and taking breaks…and as to being lazy–YOU…”lazy”? Don’t buy it. You–TIRED? Do buy that. :-] Do you take breaks, like a week off of NO writing–or whatever it is YOU need to do to recharge? Occasional detours can make things interesting….

      Thanks for stopping by, Karen!

  3. Jeanne Stein says:

    I loved Rick Hanson. When I first joined Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers he was one of the first people to come up to a befuddled newbie and welcome me. Great post. After six books, I still struggle with the marketing thing. I will look for your article.

  4. fpdorchak says:

    I was the timer for Rick when he read his SPARE PARTS manuscript for the very first time at the PPWC (it was a conference session where writers read for some 6 or 7 minutes or so, then editors and agents critiqued their works in front of everyone), for Denise Little, I think it was. I had to cut people off at the designated time no matter what–and it was tough for Rick, cause he was so damned FUNNY! He had the room in an uproar, including me. He was funny and real and just an all-around neat guy, so thanks for sharing that–and for stopping by here, Jeanne!

  5. Ron H says:

    Whew… I just know that there are people out there who get more than 24 hours in their allotment. And I think they get the extra by stealing it FROM ME! Grrrrr.

    OK, maybe not. But there must be a lot of people, not just writers, focused on platform these days. Or why would so many people be taking their cellphones, tablets, and personal smoke signal generators into the danged crapper!

    I was not fortunate to have met Rick, but he carves places in my head and heart every year when the winning entries to the Rick Hanson Memorial Simile contest are read the the RMFW Conference.

    Great article, as usual, Frank. You accomplish one hell of a lot in your five minutes.

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