WARNING – CREATIVE WRITING AHEAD
Without freedom of speech, we no longer have freedom of thought. Without freedom of thought, how the hell are we supposed to be creative?
– Source – Someone cleverer than me, probably JP.
I’m am blessed, and always have been by wise and thoughtful commenters. Sometimes they raise questions, that make me pause to think, reflect and try to solve riddles of modern day life – why not try and help each other, isn’t cooperation the very fabric of society?.
A lot of these people – the polite, thoughtful, generous and peaceful ones, are my heros, I’m truly inspired. So thankyou to those people, for taking the time and effort – you know who you are (as I know you’ll be reading this).
I have a friend who’s a struggling novelist. Like many people everywhere, especially in the “Arts”, life has gone from struggle to even harder struggle. People want to express themselves, through their art, and it’s a competitive arena these days. Millions can now publish their written works of their art on Amazon and the like, so it’s easy to get lost in this ocean. I even heard of books being written by “bots”, which is entirely plausible. Not to mention the river of free or virtually free photos out there. Music sales I hear from indie musicians hardly even cover a cup of coffee. And so on.
I hear cries of “isn’t globalism great” – the very people chanting the mantra, are the very same people who have been robbed of any chance of making any kind of living via their art. Globalism has brought some benefits, to some people. Others not so much. And there are yet others who are moving away from it – “Populism is quite popular” as coined by Nigel Farage. Me – I’m still mulling it all over, a mere student of politics – if it makes sense, it makes sense, otherwise it gets added to the absurd pile.
So I’m writing this not as a bastion of all knowledge and truth – I am certainly not “the font of all knowledge”. But as someone who likes to think aloud sometimes in public, in a reasonably coherent and rational way, without too many typos or grammar mishaps. Some may find utterances useful or entertaining. Others, well …
Some people don’t like me, which I’m cool with – we can’t make progress without breaking a few eggs, and the reasons for said broken eggs become more and more transparent to me these days, mostly it’s because I’m a “wrong thinker” – you know I actually try to think for myself, question what I see and hear. I know, I know, I might hurt myself, it’s a risky business being creative – but what would our world be without our Einsteins, our Mozarts, our Leonardo da Vincis, our J. R. R. Tolkiens, our Gandhis or the countless other talented creative “wrong thinkers” who proceeded us, to create masterpieces in their own arts, with such skill, precision and dedication ?
I tell you what it’d be like – we’d still be living in caves, bashing each other over the head with clubs – not this miracle of a world we have, created by our finest minds, manifested over the ages, by hard working men and women – who wanted a better life for us.
Did You Want To Know What I Really Think ?
In the end to be a “successful” artist of any form – writer, painter, photographer, musician, etc, and don’t forget creativity extends into STEM fields too – you either accept that you do your art because you love it or, you find a way to provide for you and your loved ones, via your gifts bestowed upon you by “God”. Or in other words, the things you’re passionate about doing, and love doing. Even better if you have competency at them.
If you do it for free because you love it, then carry on, don’t bother reading the rest of this. But do realise that if you’re publishing anything anywhere, for free, then someone is profiting from your efforts – I don’t know who said it but – “if it’s free then you are the product” or there or there about. WordPress.com stick adverts on your blogs, so don’t give me any “holier than thou” absurdity, you’re not, you’re an unpaid worker for WordPress.com. Even if you paid for “advert free” on your WordPress.com site, Google will have adverts all over their search engine, whilst people look for you – “there’s no such things as a free lunch”, someone wise once said.
SO, ANYWAY, sorry, got a bit carried away there, must have been a flashback of a troll or two of yore, playing a holier than thou game with me …
If, you want to make a living, then this is my attempt to provide some insight into what that entails. I can’t do it for you, I don’t have the time or resources, for one, and not my responsibility, for two. If you want my help, and are able to contribute to my family and loved one’s existence, then pay me – that’d be the honourable thing to do.
First off drop the notion that opportunity will drop into your lap. For 99.99% of people this won’t happen by itself. So the first skill you need to learn is promoting yourself (or your venture), which I’ve drivelled on about on this blog for years – and been vilified for by “purists”, as if in some way I’m corrupt for mentioning art and money in the same sentence – Just ignore those people, they’re either ignorant or already independently wealthy or subscribe to some absurd self-destructive ideology, that ends up with them become modern day slaves.
The second skill that wouldn’t hurt to learn, is sales and marketing. How do I successfully, first make my art marketable (make it so other people want to buy it), and second how (and where) will I sell it ?
The third skill is business, which kinda encompasses the first two (but all the skills kinda overlap anyway). “Fail to plan, or plan to fail”. Skills like accounting, managing other people (even if that’s just yourself !) and being able to read and write business plans, even if at novice level.
The fourth skill is to be able to be creative and adaptive – that is use your creative skills, within the context of your goal of “success”, whatever that looks like to you. Just the same way you apply those skills in your art, that same muscle can be applied in any arena. Look for unfilled niches and unexplored avenues (for example).
The fifth skill is politics. Politics you might ask – why so ? Well if you don’t know the answer to that, then that is why you need to learn about politics. And I’m not just talking about high level politics of governments and countries, I’m also talking about interpersonal and group politics, and these days that involves culture too. Things got a whole lot tribalistic recently if you hadn’t noticed, and you don’t want to be walking that minefield, without at least knowing where the mines are. Let the scholars of today and of yore guide you, and forget most of the mainstream media, if you actually want to learn anything at all.
The sixth skill is persistence. Remember I said that opportunity wasn’t just going to fall into your lap within a couple of days – overnight success is rare as hens teeth. The examples I’ll give later are people who’ve worked for 5, 10, 20 or more years in their field, and have probably gone through multiple failures, disasters and disappointments, and probably hardships we could hardly even imagine. I’ve only listed a few people I’m somewhat familiar with, but could give a list as long as my arm. You figure out who inspires you, and could be a model for your own success.
I could write entire books on each of those skills, but don’t consider myself an expert on any of these fields. I try to grab what lessons and learning I can along the way – you know “the journey, not the destination.”. Current and ongoing political and cultural changes, and then the pandemic, make my future just as uncertain as many of yours – a lot of us in the same boat.
Examples Of “Successful” Writers (And Other Artists) I’ve Some Familiarity With
The Critical Drinker – is (as far as know) a successful novelist and popular YouTuber.
(Promoting/Politics&Culture) – He promotes himself via using his intimate and exceptionally brilliant and razor sharp knowledge of storytelling, culture (and politics) to do critical reviews of movies. Whilst injecting satire, sarcasm, bad language and humour whenever he can.
(Sales/Marketing/Politics&Culture) He gets probably millions of views on YouTube, and some of those will result in book sales – plus ad revenue, if his globalist overlords haven’t demonetised his videos for wrong think/wrong speech.
(Persistence) I don’t know how long he’s been doing what he’s been doing, but my guess would be at least 10 years, he could be a lifetime author.
(Business) I don’t know his exact business plan – usually people keep these confidential, which is fair enough, because others would just steal it if they knew. Study him, read between the lines, you’ll get the gist of what his business plan is.
Tony and Chelsea Northrup – are both photographers, they work together as a couple/team, as very successful YouTubers.
Chelsea is (and has been) a model, I don’t know her degree of success in that field, never looked very deeply into it.
Tony is an author, of the number one best selling photography book on Amazon.
And in fairness (I don’t want the identity politics thought police on my case) I think Chelsea is also an author, or co-author.
They put out regular content, on their very popular YouTube channel, which helps to sell their photography and their books (plus YouTube monies, which as non-wrong-thinkers, will probably be a pretty sweet deal). They often have guest photographers, and increase audience engagement and participation, by allowing photographers to submit their photos during their live streams, which they comment on and provide constructive criticism of.
(Persistence) Tony I know is a career photographer, Chelsea’s modelling career I know less to nothing about. But I’d say lifetime commitment to their project and passions – Photography, and capturing beauty as art.
Jordan Peterson – is a clinical psychologist, university professor, successful author and free speech advocate (and YouTuber)
Jordan has risen to celebrity status, initially for his opposition to a new law in Canada, which made certain speech potentially punishable by jail/prison. He was one of the few who spoke up and about this Orwellian development. And has inspired probably millions of others to do likewise, good people who care about other’s fundamental human right to free speech – like Harry Miller in the UK who won vs “the establishment” in a UK free speech case, which I blogged about here :
(NB. Above link – Not safe for work)
Jordan came into my awareness via Cathy “Destined to be forever a meme” Newman, when she interviewed him on Channel4. And subsequently interviewed by an equally dis-likable egocentric Marxist Helen Lewis for GQ.
He’s been a YouTuber for a long time, released most of his lectures and talks, free via the platform. He says his viewership is mostly male, because that gender are the demographic who are organically the main audience of YouTube (not because of patriarchy/oppression or any other absurdity via ideological mental gymnastics)
He seems to thrive on scandal, always being one (or more) move(s) ahead of his attempted defamers, smearers and ideologues who’d happily behead him or lynch him, if they were running things – mostly because he’s a wrong thinker/wrong speaker, in their eyes. Which I find absurd, because he simply believes in free speech and advocates for people to “speak the truth”, along with speaking rationally and sensibly on a multitude of topics – you know a real life living breathing expert.
He’s written two books which one is a best seller “12 Rules For Life” and “Maps Of Meaning”, which he says took him 15 years to write. I did also hear (a rumour ?) of a third book, but don’t know the title, or if it exists (put it in the comments if you know).
He also has started an online teaching portal, you can find here – https://www.jordanbpeterson.com/
Sadly, Jordan is unwell, currently being treated in Russia, at last update. So, might be worth considering burnout within your plans, which is what I suspect the underlying cause may be – although that’s just conjecture on my part (I don’t know Jordan or his family personally)
(Persistence) – His work, is his life’s work, so probably 50+ years, during most of that time he was relatively unknown.
Look Mum No Computer – musician and YouTuber
Last, but not least a short mention for LMNC who is a bit of a “punk”. He’s likable, comes across as authentic, fun and kinda anti-establishment, you know a rebel or underdog. He does all kinds of weird and zany musical projects, and seems to be doing quite well financially via ad revenue and Patreon. He’s carved out a niche, that wasn’t filled, and filled it. Even though I couldn’t say I care much for his music, not my taste, he’s still a joy to watch – I love watching all the crazy stuff he gets up to – he’s grasped that he needs to be an entertainer (aka promoter), beyond just his music, in order to promote himself and his art.
Either do your art because you love it, because you’re passionate about it, and forget about success, fame and money, or paying for your existence via it. Think – “Royals” originally by “Lorde”, I guess :
Or realise that it’s likely F’ing hard work to get ahead in your art. It involves not only the art itself, but many other skills, and effort for an extended duration will be required. And even then you may not succeed (sorry, just saying it like it is)
Other’s success may help as a model on which to base your plans, so look around who’s in a similar field to that which you want to be in, and study them like a stalker (in a good way, please), or an ornithologist – then take what you’ve learn’t and apply it to your own project. Carve out your little niche in the world, and attempt to thrive in it.
All of the models of success I’ve given above, have to a greater or lesser extent all of the skills I mentioned. Plus a few other factors that I didn’t directly like competency and professionalism, for example. Even Look Mum No Computer is extremely professional in what he does in his own way.
So professionalism probably should have been the seventh skill, but not sure that’s a skill, more an ethic.
If you got this far, you either cheated and just read the conclusion, or you’re a real champion and read the whole thing, in which case maybe you learnt something. Or maybe not, either way, it’s the same for me.
“Go away now”, as the The Critical Drinker would say …
Hope you are safe and stays that way.
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15 thoughts on “The Wrong Thinker’s Guide To Being A Successful Novelist (Or Any Kind Of Creative)”
spot on on every count. Marketing sells. Not always good writing
Cats are interesting: they keep you on your toes. Maybe because long time ago I had one who would eat my wife’s goat or the neighbors cow if I wasn’t watching him. Finally he ate the neighbors cow and I had to ship him off to some reservation. Costed me an arm and a leg (financially spoken).
Ok, so maybe you don’t need to read the Improv book, or do a course, you already know how to “improvise” – nice bit of creative writing.
So, you’ve achieved at least three things there in one :
1. It’s entertaining, funny and I bet you enjoyed writing it.
2. You’re promoting yourself.
3. You’re having fun whilst doing it.
So, my suggestion – set yourself a few goals, write them down, don’t tell anyone what they are. Then forget about it consciously.
Have a look at it again in 3, 6 or 12 months, or whenever later, and ask yourself if you achieved any of those things.
I found that a year or two later, in doing this, I’d actually achieved most of the things I’d written down. Unfortunately, the one about earning a million pounds a year didn’t work out, but c’est la vie 🙂
My theory is that the power of the subconscious mind is more powerful than we expect.
I should also probably do this myself too.
I make once a year a new year’s resolution and stick to it, Don’t make another one till the previous one has been dealt with. I got this from Mark Zuckerberg. Once I’ve needed two years to deal with one: that was when I set out to read the top 100 books in the canon of the world literature. Drove my wife almost nuts. Since then I’m more careful with what I’m wishing for.
LOL, you’ve got a great sense of humour Urban, and 100 books, that’s quite the achievement, that’d take me 10 years 🙂
In some circles they call him “Zuck the Cuck” ,probably a bit mean, but appeals to my sense of humour … He does look to me like an Android when I’ve seen him on TV, the lack of blinking I find odd. I found some of these quite funny “Bad lip reading” :
And, yeah, like I said before, there are better sources than FB – like Napolean Hill or Maxwell Maltz
I felt my self identified with the content. The goal is to express the art, the point of view about the world around us, and how to enrich whether the social ties, whether the inner medium, whether the beauty of the world we live in. The love of the art in itself, the fame is accessory. The first thing is to be, the second thing is to do, the third thing is to have. And this is the natural process, when approaching to the process of the self-expression.
I have nothing to add to that, because that’s spot on and better than I could have said it. Thanks Alejandro for a very insightful comment 🙂
Very interesting content. I felt myself identified, the idea is the artist whatever be the branch or discipline he or she be acting.
Thanks Alejandro – IT Geeks create everyday, engineers create everyday, and so on – creativity isn’t the preserve of “artists”
Take someone like Einstein, who created mind-blowing science, that changed the world – a creative.
This post more or less summarizes what I’ve been reading about what marketing experts recommend. The heck is; all other artists also read those manuals: all motivated by a frustrating degree of lack of interest by the public in their works. So you start to implement those tips and soon you realize; you’re throwing hands full of money out of the window on publicity and advertisement. I had to curb that otherwise it would boil down to either having a roof over my head and food upon the table or becoming a poor and still not recognized writer. And then you have the time issue. I became aware that I was getting so obsessed with my sales that I started to neglect my writing, which caused me to become a morose and unpleasant individual. In the end I decided: yes I will promote my work, but only in ways that are agreeably and interesting to me as long the expenses remain inside the kind budget of what other people spend on their follies. If it’s no fun anymore, I rather pass on it. And the so called success can be damned. Then I will remain the needle in the haystack.
What would you say the USP is for each of the models I’ve given above is ?
First sell yourself and then your work. Salesperson’s first credo. OK with me, but not at all costs and not without me having fun while doing it. Life is too short.
No, that’s promoting, and they’re all doing that – USP is Unique Selling Point – ie what’s makes you stand out in the mountain of needles in the haystack ? What makes your product/service/art etc stand out from the crowd ?
I’d say critical drinker’s USP is filling a niche, and saying what people actually want to hear, rather than what they are told they want to hear, constantly by bias ideologues.
I’d say Tony and Chelsea Northrup, is their team effort as a couple (rare these days), and their filling several niches, with excellence and creativity.
I’d say Jordan Peterson, for standing up and standing out, and not caring about what other people thought of him. Whilst having done decades of ground work in preparation. His writing became successful because he did “12 Rules for life” which is a truncated version of his original 48 rules. His publisher gave him the title I think – So, he went for the popular format and style, in order to gain ground – an easy read with a conformist title.
I’d say LMNC, again a niche and originality and personality. But he was kind of a last minute addon, so I haven’t thought about him in much depth.
Overall, without knowing you better, and doing my best to read between the lines I’d say you’re not ready for recognition (aka status), if that’s your goal. The missing elements in the equation are up to you to figure out. I’ve already pointed you in the direction of Jordan Peterson, he’s about the best model for men and women and “others”, I’ve seen in a very long time.
If you’ve decided to go the fun route (for now), take a break, go have fun, and stop reading depressing stuff on FaceBook (that’ll rot your brain) 🙂 I deleted my FaceBook account with 1000 friends over ten years ago, and happy to be mostly out of it. I have a “satellite” presence which is a leftover from when I was promoting my stuff 5-7 years ago. Twitter I also avoid, apart from when mentioned by commentators, I saw an amusing Twitter war yesterday on one of my channels. (Other than legacy “satellite” presence, which is just syndicated from this blog)
Also, with the pandemic we’re living in odd times, so might be worth thinking it over until that blows over, which it will. A lot of people’s future’s have been thrown into question right now – another reason to unplug from media, it’s constant negativity out there, and that will affect you.
“A change is as good as a rest” someone wiser than me once said.
Well indeed, fame would come to me as a burden. I’m tending to be an introvert hermit. If not of my wife, I wouldn’t have any social life. And I’m kind of satisfied with my actual financial situation; it largely covers all my material needs as long I’m not going astray on stupid spending. Only thing I sometimes crave is some feedback on my writing. Of course you’re right about the FB; most of it is drivel with a couple of reasonable minds going against the mainstream. Don’t know why they keep trying. I’m not going to pet every cat I’m encountering on the street. My wife has even to watch out for or own cat (he bites her in her heels when she turns her back). Sometime, something will occur to me to distinct my needle from the haystack. Some metaphysical magnet or so.
You seem like a good guy to me, otherwise I wouldn’t be trying to help. I don’t think we’re that dissimilar, without going into it too personally, because of course this is public comment (you have my email address).
Fame is not all it’s cracked up to be, it comes with 24/7 scrutiny and haters.
But doesn’t hurt to push the boundaries and push yourself. I did an Improv course in London, and found Improv itself a very helpful tool, not just for creative, but for being more extrovert. Have also done a little public speaking too, after the initial nerves I enjoyed the Improv and the public speaking.
Having a wife who loves you and a few close friends – well if you have that then you’re a lucky man. And friends do take effort, you gotta look out for each other, and keep in touch – my best friends we always made the effort one way or another to keep in touch, sometimes it’s one more than the other putting the effort in – and listen to each others ramblings, share experiences, help each other with advice etc.
Personally I’d be looking to make a modest living, and I’m sure it’s possible – you just have to keep on trying, then something will work. Sometimes it’s a matter of just setting a goal for yourself, and it manifests itself on it’s own. Sometimes it’ll be an uphill struggle all the way. Sometimes we fail, in fact most successful people have failed multiple times, look up the story of Colonel Sanders KFC, I think he was in his 80s when he made it big with KFC, he got turned down hundreds of times but never gave up.
Fuck knows I tried hundreds of different things on this blog, and never went viral. “The establishment” don’t like me because I’m not a cookie cutter worker bee.
It’s a odd and stressful time for most people right now, so I’d just chill as best you can, until corona blows over.
Look into the skills I mentioned, look into the people you find you’re interested in.
Jordan Peterson literally changed my life, so that’s why I keep mentioning him. There was a hole in my life, and he just turned up and filled it. Not a miracle cure or anything like that, still have my woes and worries, but he is a missing puzzle piece for me.
I don’t naturally aspire to being the best person to read (I read very slowly actually) and provide constructive criticism of other’s work – it’s a very tough job to know where someone’s limits are, and how critical they want you to be. As a dive instructor we were taught to be very careful about feedback.
Also just running this blog takes up most of my free time, so I don’t get “out and about” as much as I should.
I have a good quote coming up for you on cats, so look out for that one 🙂