Writer Impossible

Happy Friday and welcome to the Scribes. Casey here!

Recently, my family has become infatuated with watching Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible. I know the show has been on for about four seasons now, but we had never seen it until I stumbled upon one afternoon. I was supposed to be plotting one of the three stories doing combat in my brain, but, hey – I didn’t feel like it!

Mystic Ink and Scar
MYSTIC INK at Mystic Pizza

After watching about a dozen episodes, several themes played out over and over again.  Such as:

Owners who micromanage to the point they do everything and don’t let their employees do their jobs.

Owners who let their staff walk all over them.

Owners who have no idea how much they are spending or what it costs to do business.

And, sadly, writers are often guilty of the same things. (Okay, micromanaging is mostly our job!).

Here’s what I’ve learned from Chef Robert Irvine:

1. Be honest. Denial does you no good. If you’re not up front about a problem, you can’t fix it. So if you aren’t writing like you want to, it’s time to assess your habits, document your day and determine how you can work more effectively.

2. Work smarter, not harder. I’ve encountered this philosophy in my corporate day job. I’ve witnessed first hand the belief that if you work 90 hours a week, that somehow you’re doing a good job. In my experience, that’s not true. Not if it means you end up burned out and unhappy. That is not a good long-term strategy. Working smarter means using your time effectively and delegating/outsourcing tasks when it make sense to do so.

3. Old dogs can learn new tricks. Bad writing can be fixed as long as you’re willing to learn new tricks. And you are willing to throw away the old and bring in the new.

4. Outsource. Robert doesn’t do everything by himself. He has a trusted builder and a designer (and I am sure a host of others you don’t see on camera) to help him out. Writers shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help or hire professionals when warranted.

5. Backbone. Get one. As writers, it’s our job to manage our careers and be our ownWillow champion. It doesn’t matter if you have an agent or not. No one can look out for you better than you. Like it or not, we are all small business owners and we all have to be savvy, especially now, with restrictive, rights grabbing contracts and other pitfalls.

And finally, Chef Robert’s most important lesson – do the best you can, every day.

Well, what do you think? Any lessons learned to share with us?

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11 thoughts on “Writer Impossible”

  1. Yes. Lessons learned, not only by me, but my boys who are in their own business. Delegate, delegate, delegate. And don’t be anal retentive and micro manage. Train your workers well, then permit them to do their job. So … it’s not perfect, as long as you aren’t losing money or customers. Then either fire them and hire new. And make sure you know what you’re doing in the training.

  2. “Owners who have no idea how much they are spending or what it costs to do business.” This one got me, Casey. The actual “business part” of this business is my biggest challenge most days. Keeping track of sales numbers, creating an advertising budget, and planning for all the “incidental” expenses that it costs me to be an author are out of my comfort zone in a big way. Most of the time I’m just winging it…which only goes so far before you run into dead ends and have to say…”ooops! Should have thought that out a little better.”

    Delegation is another issue for me. I’m fine with hiring professionals to do cover art and editing, but when it comes to formatting, paying an arm and a leg to a web designer, or paying someone an inordinate fee to market my books for me, I struggle with cost effectiveness…which probably goes back to money management and planning. Vicious circle, that!

  3. Years ago I tore ’12 Tips for Successful Entrepreneurs,” written by Kurt Carlson, out of a trade magazine. Tip 12: always be training your replacement. In other words, to advance, asap hire others to do mundane tasks and free yourself to do the creative stuff.

  4. Oh my golly, yes. I kept hitting a wall against the Big 6… earned my M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction and learned the reason why my mss “just didn’t have that sparkle” I kept getting from agents and editors. Needless to say, old dogs can indeed learn. 😉

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