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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Are you spending your time wisely?

My friend Randy Ingermanson is a genius, and I mean it in the most sincerest, truest form of the word. He knows things I can't possibly understand. Particle physics aside, he also knows business. He's been helping me with my business for a few years now, helping me hone my message and make my time productive.

As a writer, I love the artistry of words, how they cadence the page. But as a mom who has a child in college, I also have to make a living with those words. I can't write without considering my time with the piece and my return on investment.

Last night Randy called me. We chatted about our directions and he asked about my latest thoughts about my writing business. At the end of the call, he asked me, "How do you spend your time?" As he clarified, what he meant was this: In what writing activities (including marketing, interviews, blogging, handling inventory) do I make the most ROI (return on investment)? He asked me to spend some time over the next few days analyzing how I spend my time, and what activities bring the best ROI.

Of course, there are times in the frenzy of creativity where there will be no immediate monetary value. That's intrinsic to the writing life. But I have a feeling I'm spinning my wheels a bit, wasting time here and there where I could be more strategic.

How about you? If you were to look over your week, how have you spent your time? What has garnered the most monetary ROI? Does that surprise you?


  1. I can't imagine what I'm doing to get a ROI? I know most of my marketing things I do to promote myself don't bring in the $$$$. I think of my writing as a business, but, unfortunately, it's kinda hard to think of ways to make income from this occupation. Any suggestions?

  2. I want to spend my promotional time wisely, but as far as writing itself is concerned, to be thinking about ROI would absolutely kill my creativity. I'd rather keep my day job and be free to write what I want. Creativity also requires a certain amount of time walking, knitting, or just staring out the window as we wait for ideas to come together. A strict business mentality is antithetical to creation, in my opinion. The business side comes in after the creation is done.

  3. Cecelia,

    It's very hard to find ROI, which is why I've struggled with it. Sometimes we do things that seem to have no ROI, but then pan out in the end. The key is to find those things that have a definable ROI. For me, that is speaking. When I speak, I sell books.

    Also, building my web presence, though it doesn't show immediate results, does help eventually.

  4. Katherine,

    I would LOVE to write for the sheer joy of it, and I do when I can, but economic realities have made it so I need to make an income. In some ways, though, it has heightened my creativity as long as I think of marketing as a creative endeavor.

  5. Nothing kills your creativity like being flat broke, which is what happens to a writer when you don't think about money and just trust to fate or karma or Santa Claus.

    Writers get paid pretty poorly on average. That might be OK for those who are independently wealthy or who have someone to support them. But when you've got a mortgage and kids in college and you are the sole support of your family, you need to get serious about money and put your effort into the tasks that earn you the most. Otherwise, you won't be writing long.

    I can't imagine why anyone would intentionally put their efforts into the the tasks that earn them the least. But I know a lot of writers who spend huge amounts of time on things that somebody told them they "should" be doing, without ever asking the simple question, "Why?"


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