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Journaling for Creativity.

Why is it wrong to sell your work?

“It feels wrong to say that I’m trying to sell something.”

These are the words of Bart Schaneman, commenting on Jennie Nash’s article “Five Reasons Why Good Writers Fail” posted on TopicTurtle.

I had read and enjoyed the article and was then browsing the comments when I came across Bart’s words. I fully empathised with Bart’s sentiments and carried away almost blogged about it in the comments box. Fortunately the lack of a spelling and grammar checker in the box held me down to a large comment.

What galvanised me was the thought “Why do we feel like that?” because I also have that feeling of guilt when trying to sell. After some thought I now believe it is due to our personal belief of the value we perceive the item is worth to the customer. Compounded by the feelings we feel when a pushy salesperson invades our space trying to sell something.

Let us consider the value feelings first. In order to write good work, you have to be self critical and submit to the criticism of others. You have to be prepared to tear apart, discard, rewrite, and rethink much of what you do. This unending belief that your work is not yet good enough, has to have some influence on your thinking. It would be understandable for you to think “My product is so unworthy when compared to other good works, you Mr Customer would be better off spending your money there.”

This ‘Self doubt’ is nicely covered by Jennie Nash in her article and so I will leave it to you to read her words. What is significant here is that if we know of a brilliant deal for people, then we all pass on the ‘good news’ without any guilt, because we believe in it. If we don’t have belief, then guilt saps our enthusiasm.

This then leads nicely on to the point about selling. We are all nice people and we all dislike a pushy salesperson in our face trying to SELL us something. Yet now we feel that we are thrust into that very same odious role. If we also don’t have belief in our work then we add guilt to a lack of confidence, sapping any enthusiasm for the task.

It is our perception of the value of our work when received by others that binds us.

It is our perspective on what we have done and why we are doing it, which drains enthusiasm.

If I may, let me offer a slightly different perspective on what your work is.

It is bottled emotion, a good time, escapism, a pleasant experience, pleasure… It is a performance.

A performance that will entertain a select audience and this audience enjoys the same pleasures that you do.

As we write, we drench the page with words and phrases that one day will pour forth through the eyes and into the minds of our readers. Words that initiate a performance in the reader’s mind, one that brings joy or sadness, love or loathing, warmth or chills, any combination of emotions that elicit pleasure for the reader.

As we write, if we know and keep in mind our readers, if we entertain them as each and every word is crafted onto the page. If we place centre stage, characters that are full and fascinating. If we pace our delivery as would an actor when making an audience hang on his words. If we feel with them as they hold their breath as cliff hangers unfold. If our writing becomes our best performance FOR THEM.

Then it is not an unworthy book that might be sold, it is a package of your readers enjoyment and pleasure.

You are not selling; you are making a performance available, one written specifically for and only for those who will enjoy what you do.

Do this, know this and ‘selling’ is not such an evil.

Please entertain me in the future.

Related links
Jennie Nash: http://www.jennienash.com/
Bart Schaneman: http://rainfollowstheplow.wordpress.com/about/
Five Reasons Good Writers Fail: http://www.topicturtle.com/five-reasons-good-writers-fail/

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5 comments to Why is it wrong to sell your work?

  • Silva

    Thought provoking post.
    I come at it from a different perspective and leave it all very much up to the Gods; I write about things that interest me, and I set them out for others to look at. I have no idea if anyone will want to actually pay for my work, so I refuse to set myself up for constant disappointment. I have worked in the giftware industry before and couldn’t second guess the popular lines, and it’s no different with my writing. The things I am really proud of (like my recent short story) are not the things that seem to do well on Helium for example. Articles I’ve written with lots of research do less well than those I’ve cobbled together in 20 minutes!

    So I just write what I feel and if one day someone likes my stuff enough to pay me for it, then that is a bonus.

  • Sudeep Chitnis

    Gr 8 article …
    after all your book is your baby ,, you are not going to sell it .

  • Jan

    That’s one great and meaningful show of appreciation, andy. Very apt for today’s topic at Darren’s 31 DBBB. I have a feeling you’ve doing this a lot. It shows in your writing – your generous spirit.

    I agree writing is a kind of performance. Selling seems too crass a word to describe what we do. Maybe some do, but this flies in the face of a good performance and had better be avoided at all cost.

  • Andy Shackcloth

    Jan

    Please, you are making me blush, but thanks for the kind words

    I strongly believe that writing is a different form of the art of storytelling. That we encapsulate a storytelling performance between our simple white sheets. We ‘direct’ our actors as they walk the stage that is our page.

    After this, when our pens lay idle, comes the hard part.

    Can I sell my work? Probably not.

    Can I promote a good time for someone else? Yes I’d like a go at that.

  • [...] “Let us consider the value feelings first. In order to write good work, you have to be self critical and submit to the criticism of others. You have to be prepared to tear apart, discard, rewrite, and rethink much of what you do. This unending belief that your work is not yet good enough, has to have some influence on your thinking. It would be understandable for you to think “My product is so unworthy when compared to other good works, you Mr Customer would be better off spending your money there.”  -  From Why is it wrong to sell your work [...]