The Writer’s Marathon

Life is busy.

It’s about 9:30am on Friday as I write this–only a little more than 12 hours before it will be posted. I don’t normally like to cut it so close but…well, read the first line again.

First, there’s my writing life: this blog, my own blog, two novels and a serial in process, packaging up my Khirro’s Journey trilogy into a bundle…there could be more, but to the best of my knowledge, the number of hours in a day has yet to be extended. Then, in my day-to-day life, I’m working on my second business concept in less than a month, just finished writing a grant proposal, and my wife and I are producing our biggest show of the year…Saturday night. Occasionally, I sneak in a meal, maybe some sleep, time with the kids, that sort of thing.

I know, you didn’t drop by to hear me whine, but I’m not, really. I like being busy, wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes–like today–it even turns out to be fortuitous.

I sat down this morning knowing I needed to get this post written but, with so many things begging for my attention, I had no subject in mind. I flipped open my laptop that smells strangely of coffee and, before setting to my own work, I read Benjamin Wretlind’s post about PMA for writers, and it gave me a topic for today’s post (thank you, kind sir).

Marathon Runners

Photo by Chris Brown (originally posted to Flickr as Marathon Runners) [CC-BY-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

In my comment on Mr. Wretlind’s post, you will find the throw away statement: writing is a marathon, not a sprint. Voila! A thematic statment.

I remember reading somewhere that a ridiculous percentage of the retirement plans of North Americans include winning the lottery (really, any percentage is ridiculous, isn’t it?). Not a great way to secure one’s future, but likely accurate, and not much different than the way many authors approach self-publishing. It seems like so many of my writing brothers and sisters expect to write a book, sell a bazillion copies, and live a life of luxury. While there are rare cases of this (I recently read a post on Kindleboards from a woman who published her first book and proceeded to sell 50,000 copies in six weeks…without doing any real promo), they are as few and far between as the big lottery winners. For every Hugh Howey and Colleen Hoover you site as shining examples of self-publishing success, I can introduce you to a hundred authors making barely enough to pay for the coffee that fuels them while they hammer the keys.

Am I down on self-publishing? Discouraged? Absolutely not, and you shouldn’t be, either.

Library books

Pouya sh at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL( or CC-BY-SA-3.0(, via Wikimedia Commons

Joe Konrath recently blogged about having sold his 1.000,000th ebook. I can do the math…even with sales and different price points, you can conservatively expect that he made $1.50 per sale, so that means he’s earned well over $1,000,000. Lottery winner? Hardly–unless you think hard work, determiantion and perserverance will win you the lottery. Mr. Konrath has been self-publishing for years and has 50+ works for sale. Sure, some sell more than others, but they all contributed. The moral to the story? Keep writing. Keep publishing. I think we can all agree that it is easier to hit that goal of selling 5000 books/month if you have 50 books for sale than if you only have two, right?

Through my exposure to other auhors (including all my various social media outlets, we are talking about thousands of them) I have found many more who make good money through having published a number of books than ones who hit a single title over the fence. You’ve probably never heard of most of them, yet they make enough from what they do to do it full time. Which brings me back to the whole marathon vs. sprint thing.  The writing of a book is a marathon–if a writer rushes it, the reader knows it–but so is the path to success.  Why would someone take months, or years, to complete their novel and expect it to be an overnight sensation? That path to success probably isn’t short, and a great deal of it is likely uphill, but the one thing I know for certain about it is that if you try to take a short cut, or you  give up completely, you will never get to enjoy the view.

If you are feeling weary from the trek, scroll down a little farther and read Benjamin’s post about having a positive mental attitude–it’s the fuel to keep you going.

What do you do to stay motivated? Are you comitted to climbing the winding path, no matter who long it takes or how far it stretches?


Bruce Blake is the author of the Icarus Fell urban fantasy series and the Khirro’s Journey epic fantasy trilogy. When he’s not trudging his way along the path to success…he’s probably asleep. If you want to give him a helping hand on his journey, check out his books on Amazon.


One comment on “The Writer’s Marathon

  1. Great post, Bruce. It’s true, this is a long road, and it can be difficult to keep that in perspective sometimes. And while everyone wants to win the lottery, very few ever do, and the best we can do is just keep plugging away. =D

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s