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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

How Recommitting to the Art Side of Writing Eased My Resistance


Publishing is business; writing is art. Writers must attend to both the business side and the art side of their lives, but in what ratios?

Challenging as it is, creating art is where we find joy. Publishing is where we hope to find satisfaction and success, but where we’re far more likely to find disappointment.

The economic facts of publishing are dismal for writers. Focusing primarily on publishing can quickly demoralize us and amplify our resistance.  

For several months, I focused on the business side, searching for an agent and publisher for my novel Essential Path. As long as I made and honored commitments to drafting, revising and polishing a query letter, synopsis and first chapters, I had enough creative challenge to keep me content.

But contentment faded and resistance grew as the search became all about researching agents and tracking my submissions and their polite “Thanks, but not for us” emails. Yes, I was in transition, but that wasn’t the only reason it was getting harder to show up.

I needed to return to the art side. In the past few weeks, I officially launched a new novel, Freedom Path. I intend to spend 80% of my Product Time on the art side.

© Can Stock Photo / peshkova

I can’t tell you how happy this makes me!

After all this time, I shouldn’t be surprised by how quickly the resistance that had been kicking my butt faded. Sometimes resistance is a message that you need to find a better balance of art side/business side.

I feel compelled to emphasize that I’m not giving up on Essential Path. As soon as I get feedback on my query, synopsis and first chapter from the agent I worked with in an online class, I’ll revise and resume the search. I’ll be diligent and persistent. This will undoubtedly be a source of many minor disappointments. I hope it will eventually be the source of satisfaction and accomplishment. But I doubt it will be a source of real joy.

And that’s okay because I’m devoting 80% of my Product Time to the joy of creating. That’s the balance that’s working for me now.

What Balance of Business and Art Works for You?

The optimal balance differs for every writer and it changes as circumstances change. Only you can decide what percent of your Product Time you want and need to give to the art side and what to give the business side.

You might decide to give all of your Product Time to the art side, especially when you’re starting a new project. Some writers never make the business of publishing the goal.

The only way to get the gratification of knowing my books made a difference in a reader’s life is to invest some of my time to publishing. I’d like to earn that gratification with my novels, too. But even if I never publish a novel, I will keep writing them. That’s where the joy is.

Your non-writing friends and family might not understand what the point of writing is if you don’t publish. That’s okay. You don’t need them to understand; you only need them to respect your right to choose.

What we can’t do, at least not for long if we want to sustain our creative health, is focus exclusively on the business side.

What’s your optimum blend of art and business? Has it changed recently? Might it need to change soon?

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4 Comments on “How Recommitting to the Art Side of Writing Eased My Resistance”

  1. wolverine40 April 7, 2018 at 9:13 am #

    Thought-provoking–thank you, Rosanne!!! 🙂

    Like

    • rosannebane April 17, 2018 at 12:33 pm #

      Thanks Wolverwine40. Of all the things I provoke, thought is one of my favorites!

      Like

  2. Catherine A. Brennan April 6, 2018 at 5:43 pm #

    I commented to a group of friends recently that, we’ll see if I get published. One friend spoke up and said, that it didn’t matter, what better way to spend a life than to do what you’re passionate about. I was so grateful for her support! I can see myself doing some of the business end, but I am easing into that work down the road. I am still in the first year of building my writing life without having to cope with a demanding, full-time job.

    Like

    • rosannebane April 17, 2018 at 12:35 pm #

      What a great friend you have, Catherine. And easing into the business end sounds like a great strategy.

      Like

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