Results As An Addiction

Over the decades I have watched a certain problem stop writer after writer from having a career. The problem is a focus on results. See below.

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THE DAY

Made it to the WMG meeting by a little after 2 p.m., then spent an hour or so up at the WMG offices, leaving around 5 p.m. to combine grocery shopping with getting my 10,000 steps for the day.

Since all the stuff over the last few days, I didn’t expect to get much writing done and I didn’t. I cooked dinner, took a very long nap, watched some television, then watched more television.

Then made it in here around 3:30 a.m. to finish up a little e-mail I had worked on off and on all day.

Spent about 70 minutes on the novel and got 1,450 words done. More than I expected. I should be back up to pace on this book over the next few days.

And I got my 10,000 steps. First day of the new focus there.

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TOPIC OF THE NIGHT: Results Focus

The worst addiction that hurts writers I have seen is being results focused. This is nothing new to the indie world, but it sure is nasty now and more out-front because writers can get instant results on a lot of things.

Back in the old traditional days, a writer with this problem would write a book, then wait until it sold and then wait until the numbers came in to find out if he wanted to write another book.

Of course, the writer never did write another book and those of us writing regularly would snicker at that stupidity. But in reality, we shouldn’t have snickered because the writer had an addiction.

The writer was addicted to results and the actual storytelling didn’t matter, only the results mattered.

Forward to 2015.

I have watched many, many great writers go down this hole, never to return. I watched one fantastically-talented writer produce a hundred or more short stories and novels, all were good and some were great.

He just stopped one day because the results in sales were not living up to some myth in his mind, or some dollar amount.

You saw hundreds of writers vanish because of results after each of the Kindle Unlimited changes. Suddenly their system didn’t work to game readers anymore and writing looked like work.

This also happens with writers who are having life issues and trying to come back to writing. The fear of not getting instant results stops writers who haven’t been writing from even starting up again. I see this one more times than I want to admit and came close myself at one point.

This also hits writers with fear of not putting out a “perfect” product, so no product is better. The thinking goes like this: I can’t do a perfect cover and I can’t afford to hire a cover done, so I’m not putting my book out.

Results are everything to this mind-set.

And why this results addistion is almost impossible to fix is because all the reasons a writer can come up with sound great. And often fit in the myths English teachers have filled our heads with.

Obsessive rewriting is a symptom of results addiction. Can’t let it go because the results if you did might hurt you in some imaginary way, so better to have a workshop or another reader read it to make sure and then fix it again and then start the cycle again.

You see this with all the people writing sloppy first-draft novels in November and then never doing anything with them. Fear of the result if they did.

And then there are the obvious results-addicted writers in the new world.  The writers who check numbers all the time, often dozens of times every day.

But… but… but… It’s okay that I do that because I am… (plug in the wonderful-sounding excuse right here.)

Or even the most funny one…  But… but… but… I use numbers to drive my writing forward and help me figure out what to write next.  (Wave goodbye.)

And then there are those even more pathetically-addicted results writers who must read and react to reviews.

The results addiction craves feedback.

So the major signs of this addiction problem are these:

—Watching numbers every day

— Reading your own reviews

— Obsessive rewriting

— Fear of publishing something not perfect.

All are signs of an addiction that only takes a writer one way, and that’s out of writing and away from publishing.

If you are focused on your writing, on learning to tell better stories, on having fun being a storyteller, then you won’t care about or even notice any of the addiction triggers.

But if you are results addicted, seek help. Go cold turkey. Whatever you can do to keep your writing moving forward.

But first call it as it really is: An addiction.

And if you really must be addicted to something, be addicted to telling great stories as often as you can.

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The Writing of GRAPEVINE SPRINGS: A Thunder Mountain Novel

Day 1…. 2,450 words.  Total words so far… 2,450 words.
Day 2….5,300 words.  Total words so far… 7,750 words.
Day 3….7,100 words.  Total words so far… 14,850 words.
Day 4….2,250 words.  Total words so far… 17,100 words.
Day 5….6,300 words.  Total words so far… 23,400 words.
Day 6….2,450 words.  Total words so far… 25,850 words.
Day 7….2,700 words.  Total words so far… 28,550 words.
Day 8….2,100 words.  Total words so far… 30,650 words.
Day 9….1,450 words.  Total words so far… 32,100 words.

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Totals For Year 3, Month 4, Day 11

Writing in Public blog streak… Day 822

— Daily Fiction: 1,450 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 37,000 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words 

— Blog Posts: 800 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 7,800 words

— E-mail: 12 e-mails. Approx. 400 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 247 e-mails. Approx. 14,800 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 1 Covers

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