Letting go of polished outcomes
I'm starting to write without being perfect and precious about the end results. Also, I created a podcast!
The birds are singing, the sun is rising. It’s Saturday and I’m here in my home office overlooking the hills writing this letter to all of you. Life is good!
I’ve been silent of late on this newsletter, mostly because I was busy moving my content from my Squarespace website to my wordpress.com staging site (I plan to get a paid the Personal plan). It involves copying swathes of content. It’s the most tedious exercise in the universe, but way faster than other methods I’ve explored. I left a message in my old blog, saying that I will stop blogging while I do this.
I couldn’t keep to my promise.
I’ve been blogging and writing even more than before. I even created a podcast (scroll down to find out)!
This is all very curious. I’ve always thought I was a slow blogger. I used to produce only two articles a month.
Well, I decided to do a few things:
To stop playing by Google’s rules and stop caring about SEO and whether my website is going to rank well.
To hell with niches.
To treat my website as my no.1, true home on the Internet and social media as my “amplification channels”. Content that I write for social media should also be on my website.
To write unfinished, unpublished stuff and just publish anyway.
After years of trying to be perfect with every article, to do all the things before I hit publish, I’ve decided to go wild.
And it appears thatrecently wrote about the same thing:
It turns out that I write a lot after all, but the content was locked up in my head due to perfectionitis and in walled, corporate gardens that could disappear any moment.
Could this work on fiction?
Perhaps part of the reason of my fiction malaise was that I had to do all the things before even publishing a book. Perhaps my mind just doesn’t work that way. It desires immediacy and experimentation, and forcing myself to get it all right before hitting the publish button is demotivating. Maybe this is why I’m drawn to publishing my fiction online likeand .
I still have no idea how to go about publishing my fiction and that’s preventing me from even trying.
My mind is filled with questions.
Should I put some of my content behind a paywall? What if someone steal my work? What if NOBODY READS??
What do you think? Any of you fiction substackers care to share your experience?
Introducing the Utterly Random podcast
It’s called Utterly Random because I refuse to niche down! I initially thought of creating the podcast with Substack, but it is not as straightforward as I’d like - the syncing between Spotify and Substack was messy, and I’d had to manually add my stuff to other distributors.
Instead, I’m using Anchor. Incredibly easy process by comparison. Here’s the first episode of my podcast. In this episode I explore the culture and unspoken rules of the decentralised social media network, Mastodon. Should you leave Twitter for Mastodon? Have a listen or read the summary of episode first.)
What I’ve written
What I’ve watched
As I wrote in Giving the Rings of Power a chance, I’ve decided to give up on it and instead focus on better things. I’m finding comfort in this “buddy cop” Wuxia detective series, The Strange Tales of Tang Dynasty. In this series, hot-tempered warrior Lu Lingfeng is the brawn while justice official Su Wu Ming is the brains of the team. Seeing them solve mysteries — which are tinged with Chinese mysticism — is a delight.
Not gonna lie, I’m here also for the gorgeous sets, costumes and excellent fighting scenes, which have been suffering of late in Chinese Dramaland.
I don’t know why they do this, but iQIYI has released the series on Youtube, free, so you can watch it there if you like: Here’s the playlist.
Anyway, you have a super great day now! And if you like what I’ve written, why not subscribe to my newsletter or share it?
I'm all for not being perfect - at least during that initial period of creativity. My brain doesn't work if I'm writing in a secluded office with nobody seeing the work, which is why I publish as I go. The chapters I publish each work aren't going to be as perfect as a fully edited book, but the key thing is that I've been writing consistently for about eight years, which has produced three novels I'm really proud of (plus my current project).
What I'm now trying is to take some of those projects to the next stage, compiling them into ebooks and paperbacks in a tightly edited form. That way it's the best of both worlds - the initial serialisation to motivate me, and for people who like to follow a book as it comes out of the furnace, followed by a polished book for those who want the finished article.
Good luck with it all!
It’s tough being a multi-passionate creative. I admire people who have a laser focus on one thing, but that will never be me. My brain doesn’t work that way. The thing I find tricky is integrating this tendency with life constraints and my goals. When I’m writing I feel like I’m neglecting my art. If I’m writing one kind of fiction I feel as if another story is tugging at my trousers, pulling me away to a new adventure. If I’m working to earn that necessary thing called money, I find that I’m wanting to do something else. But I only have so much energy. I want to blog about all kinds of things, like you, but if I do that I don’t do the other things I want to do. When I was young I could do all the things. Not any more. When I read your post my first response was, ‘yeah! ‘ But then I wondered if any of us ever get to be truly eclectic in what we do. Are we ever truly free? I think how we approach this is driven by our goals. There’s always part of our lives that’s constrained by a focused audience. If we have a job, our focus is set by our employer and their clients for the time we work for them each week. However the trade off with that loss of freedom means that in spare time creatives can do what they like. Splash around in the pool of their creativity and bake in the warm sunshine of their accomplishments. Income is nice but it isn’t needed. But if we want to have our creative work be our job—that is, be an authorpreneur or commercial artist—we need to somehow find a paying audience. And somehow in the vast number of online businesses, books and blogs, we need to be seen. I’m yet to think of a way to be seen without having some kind of focus or niche. The multi-passionates who do this with commercial success build one niche at a time. It’s tricky—but I admire the fact that you are giving it a go.
I hope you keep writing, Liz, fiction as well as non fiction and that you find your audience for both. And if you find ways to sell your books that are outside of the traditional pathways, let us know. Before I forget—congratulations on your podcast—I’ll try and listen sometime this week.