"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: Don't Limit Yourself

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Don't Limit Yourself

Dear Fellow Writer, 

A few people have asked me this week: What is a supposed writing guru doing suddenly putting out all this music?

What can I say? Just toying with my roots I guess. I love the idea of having my own iTunes page.

And anyway, the release of "The First Cut is the Deepest" is really only a way to help promote my new movie, First Cut...

To me, it's all about writing.

Books, Film, Music - they're all products of a writer's mind.

And I don't like to limit my definition of what a writer does... as the article below explains.
Keep writing!


Don't Limit Yourself

Rob Parnell
The great thing about money is that it allows us to specialize.

Instead of worrying about hunting or gathering food all day and fighting off savages to get a cave to sleep in, we can do things completely unrelated to basic survival, get paid in money and then go out later and secure the things we need to live.

Think about it. This is a marvelous arrangement - specialization means that we can engage in pretty much anything we feel like doing - as long as it's of perceived value to someone who will pay for it.

That's the catch of course.

Because the problem with having an artistic bent is that our work is not always seen to be valuable - in real money terms - at least at first.

Many writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers have to struggle with the idea that their efforts are not going to secure cash in the short term - and for many, in the long term either.

Persistence is the key. As Mick Jagger once said, the longer you do something, the more successful you'll be - and the more rewards you'll receive for sticking to what you're best at.

But until you're successful, how do you know what to specialize in?

Fact is, you don't. You can't, unless you're so focussed on one thing (and have a wealthy benefactor - or a very patient partner) you can't know what's going to work until it happens.

Four out of every five new businesses fail within the first two years.

The proportion is probably a lot higher for artists. 

My guess would be that 99 out of a hundred artists fail to support themselves within five years. 

Many fall back on some other skill they have - or just keep grinding away at the day job until their urge to be creative is either strangled out of them or naturally fizzles and dies.

If you want to be successful, my advice would be: Don't specialize too soon.

You need to find your niche - the thing that people respond to - before you 
throw yourself wholeheartedly into perfecting your passion.

Many writers start in one genre only to realize that it's not going to pay the rent. They might switch from fantasy or romance to crime thrillers for instance, simply because there's more demand for crime novels.

Musicians attracted to jazz may also find themselves playing dance music - 
because far more people respond to beats than lots of twiddly notes.

It's not about selling out. It's about finding a solid platform from which to communicate your individuality.

Once you've found the niche that people respond to, you can then use all of your creativity within the context of that niche - and fully develop your ideas.

There's nothing worse than being an artist, a writer, and not receiving feedback or encouragement. 

And these days, feedback means money - getting paid, because money enables you to continue.

Without 'greenback feedback' you're not going to be able to develop yourself in any meaningful way - nor be able to build a relationship with your fans, customers and/or subscribers.

You need to try many things - within reason - and not limit yourself to one thing that may not work out for you.

Over-specialization is a problem in the work force too.

Many middle aged workers with lots of experience in a specialized office job or a specific factory process find themselves completely unemployable when they're made redundant by their employers.

We live in an ever changing world that requires us to be able to adapt. 

And sticking to what you know is fine until the world moves on and leaves you asking: "what just happened?"

My dad experienced this when computers started taking over the world in the eighties and nineties. He literally fought against the machines - out of principle. He hated the idea that his job could be replaced by a computer - and ironically, because he didn't embrace technology, it ultimately was.

Many 'old world' writers who have lived 'comfortably' from publishers advances are now feeling the pinch of the Internet - and resent the new world writers who are more self reliant and tenacious.

The Net is a great equalizer.

It's also the market economy in action.

Online success is about instant greenback feedback. You can see what's working and what isn't immediately.

In the future, when increasing numbers of us are being 'supported' by the Net and new technology, we'll have lots more opportunities to be creative and find ways to occupy ourselves meaningfully - rather than relying on 'employers' to dictate what we do with our time.

Are you ready to be more self sufficient?

How many things are you good at?

How many interests do you have?

Just how many activities satisfy you?

These are the questions you'll need to ask yourself if you want to survive and prosper in the upcoming brave new world.

You can't fight change.

We're adaptive creatures - at least we were until the industrial revolution tried to homogenize us into worker drones.

I see the future as an exciting place, where individuality is nurtured and cherished - and education focuses less on facts and figures and more on creating self motivated people.

Self reliance is about self education and being tenacious enough to adapt our goals - and follow through with commitment and conviction.

Besides, you don't really know if you're going to be any good at anything until you try it.

Don't specialize too soon.

Try all kinds of things - all the time.

I would go so far as to say don't specialize ever - but remain open to new opportunities.

The people we respect - artists we aspire to emulate - remain relevant because 
they never lose touch with what's happening around them.

Don't limit yourself.

Be creative - but also be realistic. 

Follow up on what's working and be adventurous with it.

But don't be afraid to walk away from what's not working.

Most of all, take it easy, have fun and then, I'm positive, everything else is bound to follow.

Because if something's no fun, it's never going to work - for you or anybody else!

Keep Writing!
 rob at home
"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward." Lewis Carroll

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