dreamstime_s_27689505I’ve decided that the next time a writer asks me for that one piece of advice I’d like to give every writer, I’m going to tell them this:

Buy a hat.

No, not because I have some milliner friends who need the support. But because writers, and particularly brand new beginning writers, need to understand the separation of church and state.

Your writing is not the same as your writing business.

These two things have some links between them, but I’ll say it again:

Your writing is not the same as your writing business.

When you have finished your book and it’s time to release it into the world, you must, must, must at that time take off your writing hat and put on your publishing or business hat.

Perhaps you have a pair of steampunk welding goggles instead. Or a leather workman’s apron.

Whatever metaphor or physical object works for you. For some writers, I actually would recommend that they go get a hat or something that reminds them of the difference.

I am not speaking to just indie writers here. Traditionally published writers need to make this same separation.

Writing isn’t the same as business.

I particularly want to remind writers about this when they say that publishing is hard, it takes time, that it’s boring, that marketing frightens them, etc.

If your writer is doing the publishing, absolutely they’re bored with it. All your inner writer wants to go do is go write and play.

Maybe you need more than just a hat. Maybe you need a name for your publisher. A character who you become when it’s time to do those things. Then you need to spend some time developing that second persona. That other personality (call them Ursula) who handles the marketing and publishing and business side of things.

Because Ursula loves to publish. She loves all the geeky nature of learning epubs, of designing covers, of figuring out a new marketing campaign, of getting together with other business people and talking business.

I recently spent a night talking mostly about publishing and the business side of things. At one point, someone brought up something that was about craft.

I could feel the gears in my head grinding. Ker-chunk. Ker-chunk. I actually asked the person about it, pointing out to her the shift from business to craft. I was happy to change gears, but I wanted to make sure that she realized what she was asking.

She merely repeated her question.

I still remain under the impression that the other people listening in on the conversation didn’t understand just how huge of a leap this was. They didn’t have separate hats, separate personas. They didn’t separate out writing from business.

You need separate hats.

Though I try as hard as I can, I cannot do everything. I do not have enough time.

In order to make sure that I do what’s most important for both the writer as well as the publisher, I have separate buckets of hours. The writer’s hours come earlier in the day. I make sure that I write first. Then I have hours that are for the publisher. Each set of hours is sacred to that job. I try not to steal from one set of hours to do stuff that belongs to the other persona.

It’s actually helped me feel less stressed, knowing that I only have so many hours in a day, and I can only do so much.

So buy a hat. Or a cool pair of goggles. Or a fancy tiara. Whatever it is that you need to help you separate out your hours.

Your writing is just that. Writing.

Your business is something else entirely.

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