What teaching has taught me about the long term

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on all the things working against me as a writer.  One thing I definitely have working for me is my sense of the long term.  Oh, I definitely get frustrated from those no sales days.  But I always have an ever-present sense of the long term.  This is really something that was instilled in me from over twenty years of playing the violin.  It's further amplified by the fact that I now teach the violin.  You think the writing process is slow?  Try learning a musical instrument.

I think a lot of independent writers fall into the trap of losing long term focus.  We're constantly chanting "this is a marathon, not a sprint."  But what does that really mean in your mind?  Are you saying that but actually thinking "if I advertise enough, next month with be my big break"?

In order to really be effective as a teacher, you really have to be tuned in to the little things.  If you simply compare this week's lesson to last week's, there may not even be an apparent change.  Months are good to look at, but really you have to look at the year.

Parents will frequently pull me aside and ask in a worried tone if their child is on track.  Are they falling behind?  Are they making any progress at all?  At times like these, I have to point out the bigger picture to them.  Sure, their kid may just know Twinkle.  But they can play Twinkle now.  Twinkle is not just about the notes.  It's literally an accumulation of learning everything you need to know in order to play the violin.  Could they do that last year when they just started?  Nope.

So this applies to the writing as well.  As with every art, it takes time.  I'm not even going to dance around with the vague term "marathon"; unless you get really lucky, it will take years.  That's right: YEARS.  You must look at your whole year.  Not week to week.  Not month to month.  Your entire year.  In the past YEAR of being published:

-Have you made any sort of attempt to get your work in front of strangers (gifts, freebies, reviews)?

-Have you sold at least one copy?  Or, if you have been published for more than a year, have you sold equal amounts or more from the previous year?

-Have you worked on getting more things published?

If you have answered yes to any of those, you have made progress.  Actual progress.  If you haven't yet been published for a year, I don't want to hear any whining.  Unless you give me some cheese to go with the whine.


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