Guest Blog: TM Camp "3 Areas Writers Let Themselves Down"

T.M. Camp, novelist,  playwright, and marketing guru has some great ideas for writers. And he's the one that got me started with online promotion. Beyond being deeply talented, he's also very wise, and a good person to boot. Here's what he has to say On Writing:

There are three areas in which writers typically let themselves down.

The first is absolutely in their control, and yet they often act like it is not. That is, they do not actually write. They don't sit down every day and put new words in front of each other. There are always excuses that get in front of it -- there's no time, it was a hard day at the office, the laundry's piling up, I'm too tired, I'm having a "block"... But writers (by definition) write.

Whether it's only for fifteen minutes or four hours, whether it's fifteen words or two thousand... Writers need to write every day. It's a responsibility, a stewardship of the gifts you've been given. And, ultimately, it's how you demonstrate your commitment, how you improve, and how you lay a foundation for your dreams.

Whether you're striving to be an Olympic athlete, a power forward for the New York Knicks, or the World's Best Mom... If that's how you define yourself at your core, you need to put in the time every day.

And, as a writer, it's one of the few things that you can actually control in the process. Too easily, we let ourselves off the hook.

The second area where writers fail themselves is in the professional arena. They know words, they know how to tell stories and develop characters, they write things that people want to read... but they let their own ignorance of the industry keep them from doing what's needed to get to the next level.

In all honesty, this has been my biggest failure. I've been writing for 25 years. I've only seriously dug into the publishing industry in the past few years. For too long, I allowed my ignorance to undercut all of my hard work and effort. It's regrettable and the feeling that you're making up for lost time is not a good one; it shortchanges your enthusiasm and gets in the way of the work itself.

Writers need to educate themselves, not just about their craft but also about their industry and how it connects them to their readers. They need to understand the business side of publishing, the ins and outs of it all and who the gatekeepers are.

Although the best practices and standards are variable from player to player -- that is, there's a lot of subjectivity and inconsistency across the range of expectations that agents and publishers bring to the table -- the industry is pretty well structured and documented. Writers should know it all, inside and out.

We need to have more than a vague familiarity with how that all works, so that we can plan our own approach to it all. Each writer needs to craft a professional thread for themselves, something they can follow... They need a guiding line that allows them to navigate the maze and avoid the pitfalls and fight the monsters along the way.

And thirdly, writers need to get very comfortable -- if not adept -- with new technologies, new media and emerging channels: Blogging, Social Networking and Marketing, Podcasting, Crowdsourcing, Print on Demand, Online Distribution, Creative Commons, and so many other buzzwords making the rounds... The opportunities presented by these still-evolving concepts are largely misunderstood, dismissed, and/or untapped by most writers.

Whether or not you think each and every one of them will be viable in the future, the impact that these things will have (the impact that is already apparent) on publishing is undeniable.

We've got a long way to go, but the ability for a writer to connect with an audience and build a platform for their work has never been more available to us.

And, from my perspective, it's never been more exciting to be a writer.

ABOUT T.M. CAMP

From a very early age, T.M. Camp has been making up stories and then writing them down. There is no reason to expect that he will stop any time soon. In addition to his long career in advertising, T.M. has written over thirty plays, numerous short stories and poems, and two novels. His plays have been produced by theatres in California, Michigan, Iowa, and Tennessee. A few of his scripts have even won awards. One of his plays — “The Red Boy” — broke into the top ten of the 2001 Writer’s Digest playscript competition. In 2007, T.M. finished his first novel “Assam & Darjeeling“, following it up with the novella “Matters of Mortology” in early 2008. In addition to a number of smaller, ongoing projects, T.M. is currently at work on his third novel, entitled “Pantheon”.In all of his work, T.M. explores boundaries — The boundaries between worlds… boundaries between the physical and the supernatural… the boundaries between people… and the boundaries within ourselves.

Check out "Matters of Mortology" by clicking HERE.