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On Being a Curious Authentic Artist

Last week I told of how I stumbled on Jeff Goins’s Writer’s Road Map, and decided to try and follow his 12 step plan to earning a living as a writer. The first two steps saw me ‘clarify [my] worldview,’ and decide upon my ‘platform personality’ from a list of five he provides. Thus I am a curious-authentic-artist who believes everyone should have access to education.

Continuing on with the steps…

Step 3 is start a blog. Why? This is what he says:

There are over 60 million blogs on WordPress, one of several platforms that helps you to publish online. This number, according to one source, represents only
43% of all blogs, making the total somewhere around 160 million blogs. (I recently heard this number could be as high as 300 million). These blogs are viewed by an audience of over 400 million people each month — and that’s only one place people are connecting online.

I’m not convinced that this is an argument for a writer to start a blog, all he seems to be saying is that there are loads of blogs and loads of blog readers. He doesn’t go into any more detail. I’d have expected a few figures that show how writers have benefited from having blogs: Sally Pickles’ blog developed a following of five million readers who waited with bated breath for each installment of her heroine’s adventures as a botanist, so when her first book came out it was an instant bestseller, that kind of thing. But he shares no such information.

However, I already have a blog (as you can see). I started in 2007 with The Kitchen Bitch Ponders (on Blogger), which I kept going until 2013. After that I moved over to WordPress and here I still am, though this one dates only from February 2017, when I decided to take it more seriously and get my own domain name. So as step 3 is already covered, I may as well carry on.

Step 4 is to commit to writing one post a week. I’m doing three at the moment, to cover three aspects of my work/play: Mondays for the Story-a-Week Challenge; Wednesday for Writing Opps; Friday for this kind of nonsense. So that, too, is covered.

For Step 5 he insists I develop an email list. Why? This is what Goins has to say:

 Every writer needs an email list. It’s just that simple. If you aspire to publish a book and actually sell copies some day, if you want to make money off your writing, you need people paying attention to your work. And the best way to do that is with an email list. Email is king. It is, hands down, the best way to build an engaged audience, sell a product, or create excitement around your next big project. Without one, you will struggle to get the traction your message deserves and leave your fate up to chance.

To be honest I don’t think I’m up to building and maintaining an email list. I’ve never been a sales person. I once did a temp job whereby I had to give out ‘goody’ bags (biros, mouse mats, mugs and post-it notes, all covered in pharmaceutical industry logos) to delegates during the lunch break of a conference. But I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt their conversations to force bags of useless crap on them, so ended up dumping the lot in a broom cupboard. Even if by some fluke people did sign up to my ‘list’ I probably wouldn’t want to bother them by sending the contents of my mind direct to their inboxes. But, in the spirit of consistency I have joined Mailchimp and created a sign-up window that flashes onto the screen when people come to this site. It should only bother any single person once. 

I’m beginning to think that Goins’s method isn’t for me. Isn’t, in fact, for fiction writers and poets, but for writers of non-fiction. If I wanted to write a book on how to eat chocolate and still have a perfect bum, or the secret life of teapots, or walking to Timbuktu dressed as a nun, it may be the very thing, but I’m pretty sure an email list isn’t high on the priorities of most novelists. 

I may be utterly wrong, though, and as I currently have no other ideas, I’ll follow his road for a while longer. It’s all experience, and material, who knows I may write a bestselling novel about a dystopian future in which everyone vies for the title of 12 Step Practitioner of the Year?

In the next episode I have to publish a manifesto!  Thank goodness, then, it’s Christmas and I can have a break, because there’s no way I could write a manifesto in a week. For a start I’m not sure I know what one actually is, the only one I’ve ever read is Marx and Engels’s Communist Manifesto. I’ll have to read a few to familiarise myself with the genre, which I’ll do in between bouts of festive gluttony in a state of mild inebriation. I’ll share it with you when I return from wassailing on January 11.

Image from Living Etc.

Meanwhile, I wish you all Very Merries and Happy Hoggers. 

15 thoughts on “On Being a Curious Authentic Artist

  1. Interesting, an email correspondence developed organically for me with a fellow blogger, but it has been about mutual life experiences and interests, nothing commercial at all. I’m afraid my “authentic” self cringes at the idea of trying to self-promote. Best wishes for your continued journey as well as the festive season. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s curious that he’s picked 12 steps. That’s already been taken.

    I don’t think blogs are useful for developing an audience, however, they’re VERY useful to exercise your writing muscle. Yes, it’s a muscle. This is a good platform to work it out.

    Developing an email list sounds like a big, fat drag. Is that what it’s going to take?


  3. He’s nothing if not unoriginal! But, to give him his due, this almost seems to be him working things out and sharing that working out, rather than trying to be some sort of guru.

    I started blogging to develop my writing muscle almost twelve years ago, and I’m not sure it’s worked. I’ve been sloppy, must do better!

    Even worse that developing an email list, to me, would be maintaining it. Imagine having hundreds of subscribers and feeling responsible for giving them something regularly! Gads, the thought actually makes me feel nauseous.


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