Topic of the Night: Three Types of Thinking
More than likely this will be a topic I’ll talk about regularly in numbers of ways. But for tonight, what got my focus on this was a comment made by the Passive Guy on a post he put up from Kris. (Scroll down to Kris’s post, his comment is under hers.)
He said, “Under current contract practices, the author is the only person who has to think in the long term while everyone else in the publishing business is focused on the short term.”
Wow, is that the truth. In so many ways.
And so few writers focus on long term in business. In fact, my focus on trying to help writers think long-term is what I get the most criticism about. (For example, I tell people to write what you love, don’t chase trends. It’s like I have run over their bike with training wheels with a big truck. These young writers really get mad at me for that.)
So that comment from Passive Guy got me looking around and I realized that in many places, I am very, very wrong about writers not thinking long term. Let me give you some examples of writers thinking long term that sort of smashed into me over the last few days.
— The workshop this last week. There were 12-14 writers there that spent a week of their time and money to learn craft from Kris for a week. And they worked damned hard, writing upwards of 7,000 to 10,000 words a day. Those writers were all thinking long term. They were there to improve their craft to make more sales over a long term.
— All the writers taking online classes and who have taken online classes. Every one of you have been thinking long term, working to learn an area to keep going into the future.
— The fantastic group of writers who show up every Sunday for lunch. All are working to learn business and make sure their careers are long-term careers.
And so on. When you are learning to build a business, improve your craft, you are thinking long term. No other way it could be.
So how about some examples of short term thinking?
… The Passive Guy was talking about thinking long term with traditional book contracts. He was spot on the money and I see writer after writer pay no attention to that “all rights for the term of the copyright” stuff in traditional publishing contracts. Short term thinking there.
And as Passive Guy said in his comment, each one of these writers has a “reason.”
Now, are there reasons to sign those contracts? Sure, if you know what you are doing, have a great attorney helping you, and you have enough clout that you can solve a bunch of the restrictive problems in the contracts. And then only if you get a truck-load of money for the loss of the IP. But losing an IP forever (or at least 35 years) for a few thousand bucks is just stupid and very short-term thinking.
— Another example of short-term thinking… “I know it all, I don’t need to learn.” Wow, do I get those people coming to me for help all the time. They have sold a couple traditional books, think they know it all, have never taken a class from anyone to learn anything, and yet want me to help them figure out how to get back into traditional publishing. Uh, no.
— Not learning copyright. Always too busy is very, very short-term thinking. Scary and deadly.
— Writing to trends or “hot areas” to make a little extra money.
You get the idea.
But there is one more form of thinking I want to add into this discussion about short-term and long-term thinking.
Tunnel vision will kill you quicker than anything, and I see this form of thinking all the time.
— I want to be published traditionally, not going to think about indie. The tunnel vision doesn’t allow the person to think of all the different routes to the goal of being traditionally published. (Also, these people chase agents like dogs chasing a car.)
— I’m going to keep working on my one book for years until it’s perfect. This kind of tunnel vision flat won’t allow a person trapped there to see any other choices.
— My work has no value so I’m going to price it all either free to get “readers” or at 99 cents. This form of tunnel vision is based on false thinking all the way. And often the thinking starts with the false idea that beginning writers sell less than experienced professionals. Or that they have no readership, so giving all their work away for free will build a readership for a few years away. Uh, nope.
— If I take a class or listen to writing advice from anywhere, it will hurt my writing and my special “voice.” This thinking always results in a person leaving the industry quickly, and without anyone noticing.
Many, many more examples in all three forms of thinking in this business. Things like not setting up a business (short), not understanding taxes (short), afraid of taxes (tunnel), setting long term goals (long), and so on and so on…
So this first post on this topic is more to start discussion about the forms of thinking. I try to help writers out of tunnel vision, I teach completely long-term thinking, and shake my head sadly and the short-term thinkers.
There are lots of places in this topic to dig down much deeper. Stay tuned.