The modern writers’ shifting sands …

There was a time when writing a novel was a singular task. Writers like Charles Dickens or Mark Twain took up their writing instruments and wrote on paper. Dickens always used blue ink and couldn’t start a novel until he had decided on the title. [That’s another fun post coming.]

They would then turn their work over to a printer who would take over. The authors might edit and refine the manuscript, make any corrections, but their work was mostly done. Publishers generally handled everything else.

That world is gone, gone, gone.

Today’s writers face a daunting task—in addition to the daunting task of writing a book. Except for the most elite writers [think Gresham and King] writers have to write, then promote their own books. Even those who snag an agent and publisher are expected to manage much or all of the marketing.

That’s just a fact. What complicates it for today’s writers, especially self-published authors, is the shifting sands of media.

If you’ve ever tried running in the sand—not the wet kind near the water—but the dry stuff, you have an idea of how a writer can feel.

Take blogging. I started using WordPress in about 2010. It was a challenge to learn a new platform, but I did it a little bit at a time. Soon I was blogging (for an employer) three times a week.

Fast forward to 2017. By that time, I had left that job and was on my own writing novels. I was fulfilling a lifetime dream of being a full-time novelist. And I was fairly savvy as far as social media was concerned, but I quickly learned that nothing ever stays the same.

Modern communication, much of which is electronic/online, is a minefield of quirks and changes and upgrades. Just think how often you are asked to download and upgrade on your laptop or phone. I understand fully that all these little tweaks are improvements. I get that. Still, it leaves the writer in today’s markets the additional task of not only writing but of keeping up with the contending shifting sands of media.

It feels as though every time I start to write a new blog or upload a new book or update an author page, something has changed. And I am instantly shoved back into learning mode to figure out how to use the newest tool or trick. It is enormously frustrating as platforms are changing and morphing at light speed. Granted, the options are better than filling the trunk of your car and hawking books at county fairs, but still….

So what’s a writer to do? As much as I’d love to go back to the olden days when all I had to do was write, that ain’t happening. Like it or not, I have to keep up or get left behind. Still with every step I take, the sand is hot and constantly shifting.

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