Why Today Is The Best Time to Be A Writer In The Entire History of The Whole World

“…the best chance to be whole is to love whatever gets in the way, until it ceases to be an obstacle.”

– Mark Nepo

I’ve been following a lot of news about writers these days and I keep running into a common theme among all of the articles I have been reading that at this point I could no longer ignore.

Now, let me tell you the exact and precise message I have been hearing in the news about the changes that are happening in the publishing industry that may affect writers:

“Armageddon has arrived!”

“The publishing industry is going to collapse and be replaced by a hologram of will.i.am!”

“Bookstores will turn into Jimmy Choo shoe stores over night!”

“Kindles will start eating your babies!”

“Literary agents will have to take jobs as leprechauns!”

“Because of blogging, EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the world will suddenly have the bright idea to become a writer and snatch away your next book contract just as soon as you are going to sign it!”

“OOOOH!!! OOOH!!! BE AFRAID!!! BE VERY AFRAID!!!”

Riiiiight.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve probably come to notice one of my biggest pet peeves: fear mongering. And isn’t “fear” the message that is REALLY being spread in those “news” articles? Isn’t “fear” the message that is being passed down to us writers, already struggling to punch out a dream onto a laptop screen? On top of all the challenges we writers face, must we also be manipulated into being TERRIFIED about all the new stuff that’s coming out, and be forced to see, for instance, E-books as our enemy or Social Media as Satan’s lap dog?

No. I don’t think so.

Now, let’s talk about the truth without all the sensationalist headlines. Let talk about what’s actually happening.

It’s a very long and complicated explanation, so bear with me. Here it is:

Times are changing.

Yup. That’s all. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but what I can tell you for sure is that writers will NOT all spontaneously combust at the end of 2012.

First of all, I studied Mayan civilization in college (okay it was just a quarter, but it was very intensive) and it was very clear to me that the Mayans didn’t believe 2012 was doomsday. They saw it as a moment of great change and transformation. Therefore, those people who think the world will end in 2012 are misinterpreting the signs.

A similar misinterpretation seems to be happening in regards to the publishing industry. People are mistaking a time of great transformation for total Armageddon. When the truth is that the publishing industry isn’t dying–it’s evolving and The Writer is evolving with it.

You see, when something evolves, it takes time, and, yes, sometimes there are scary setbacks.

It’s like when a baby who’s trying to crawl for the first time falls on his face and you want to help him up, but you know the baby has to learn how to get up all on his own. That’s what’s happening right now.

But, even so, people are still afraid of all the new changes. For instance, people fear that the digital age means more competition for writers.

(Raises hand in crowded classroom. Camera zooms in.)

But–hasn’t there always been a lot of competition? And isn’t it better this way, because it will be easier for fans to find the authors they like, and it will be easier for authors to find the fans they like? And isn’t the fact of whether a writer has mass appeal dependent on the writer’s work and not on how many people he can reach?

For example, I’ve never heard of anyone recommending a book that was terrible, so it stands to reason that it will mostly be the best works that will get attention in a new, digital, reality. In fact, the new digital reality might cut back on the presence of mass-produced garbage that was once approved by a single, absentminded publisher, because now an author would have to earn widespread appeal from an audience before anyone would ever bother publishing or promoting his or her work.

Still, I suppose, this new reality scares some people.

You might be asking: “Ollin, are YOU afraid?”

My answer is: “Frak no.”

I’m not afraid. In fact, I’m incredibly excited. The truth is, as soon as you ignore the “chicken little’s” of the news, it will become very clear to you, too, that this is the best time for writers in the whole history of the world.

“Why?”

Are you kidding me?

There are SO many more opportunities for us today than there has ever been in the history of the world. Cash-strapped writers can now publicize and promote their books on Twitter and Facebook for–catch this–ZERO DOLLARS. Writers can build a loyal fan base for their fiction books ACROSS THE WORLD for a total of–catch this other one–ZERO DOLLARS. Writers can share their thoughts and ideas, engage in interesting conversations with people they COULD NEVER AFFORD to visit in person, and form new connections and collaborations over a vast expanse of space with–catch this last one–A COST OF ZERO DOLLARS.

This was never even HEARD of a decade ago, and I will not allow for the “Debbie Downers” of the news to distract me from all the amazing, inventive and exciting things that are happening in today’s world that are of a HUGE BENEFIT to writers.

So if you, too, have been caught up in all of the over-hyped “doom and gloom,” I want you to take a breather and step back into reality: the truth is that you are living during one of the most exciting, inventive, and transformative times in the whole history of the world, and on top of that, there is no better time to be a writer than TODAY.

So, if you’re moaning and groaning about how bad writers are going to have it in the future: stop complaining. Edgar Allen Poe would have killed to have the deal we writers have today. (It certainly would have helped Ed with his drinking problem, that’s for sure.)

There are only two options we writers have as we step forward into this brave, new, digital world. There will be those of us who will choose to resist the change and therefore believe that “The Writer” is dead. You’ll pack a bunch of canned peaches, set up a mattress in your basement, and wait for an asteroid to hit. Then, there are those of us who will choose to embrace the coming changes. We’ll adapt, we’ll evolve, and as we embrace the new realities of the modern age, we will give ourselves the chance to rise much higher than we could have ever done in any other age.

I leave you today with a link to an article about Conan O’Brien, one of the best comedy writers of our time. The article does an amazing job of illustrating O’Brien’s sharp fall and his subsequent, light-speed resurrection. It tells the story of how O’Brien decided to embrace social media and the changes of the 21st Century (instead of claiming it was doomsday for his career) and rose to become one of the most successful and most popular Late Night talk show hosts of today–all while making history and becoming a legend in the process.

After reading his story you’ll want to ditch all those people who keep saying that the sky is falling and, instead, join Conan, me, and the rest of us as we do our little string dance.

much “I’m on Team Coco,”

Ollin

What do you think? Are writers headed for Doomsday? Or do you agree with me that this party is just getting started?

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51 comments on “Why Today Is The Best Time to Be A Writer In The Entire History of The Whole World

  1. I’m with you on this. I’m excited about the change. From what I’ve been reading it will also mean I have the choice of having a little more control. I don’t have to rely on an agent to get me published. I can do it myself (Sure I will also have to find my own editor and cover artist but still! I’m in control.) I also believe authors shouldn’t be afraid because we have to put good stuff up so the bar is set. Readers will say ‘This is good and I won’t support books that don’t reach these standards.’ Or something like that, not really sure if I’m explaining it very well.

    • Ollin says:

      I understand Patricia. I agree with you. No one will support a book that is terrible. That was my argument. What bothers me is that there always seems to be this “scarcity” myth out there in the world as if there’s only so many writers that are allowed to be successful. I just disagree. I don’t believe it. I also don’t believe EVERYONE wants to be a writer. Writing is hard work, and it takes patience, guts and skill. Not everyone wants to work that hard–unless they love it.

      I’m hoping we can start to change our attitude about these issues.

  2. I am with you Ollin. After all, if we don’t know what’s the future, what’s the point in perceiving it as negative?

    Better yet, the future is the ONLY thing we can change–somebody said that. And they were damn right when they did.

    -BrownEyed

  3. gabriellan says:

    The industry is definitely changing, but the readers are all still the same! The way I see it, if you write good words, there will always be someone who wants to read them. What with all the different media platforms out there, and eBooks, print on demand, self-publishing, the ability to do email submissions – like you said, this party’s just getting started! Writers can make a fan base even before their book gets published. That’s a huge, amazing thing in and of itself.

  4. Karla says:

    I completely agree that social media expands our choices in life. I love where new media takes me, but, as with other barriers to writing, I feel like I’m spending my time trying to work with the media and not with the writing (it should be the reverse). Coco has a team helping him while most of us are doing everything alone. It will come, but it will still take some time for each of our voices to be heard.

    • Ollin says:

      Great point Karla! We don’t have a team helping us… but we do have a lot of support. Sites like problogger.net and copyblogger.com are really great resources. I recommend them if you ever need help with social media.

      Also, don’t mean to plug my services, but I do offer a blogging consultation to my readers. I’m giving a huge discount at the moment, you can let me know if you are interested by using my “contact” page. You can check out my “hire me” page for details as well!

      Good luck to you!

      • G.H. Edwards says:

        Karla, Just like Ollin is trying to shift the doom-and-gloom attitudes and fear-mongering about all the upheaval in the publishing world to an excitement and enthusiasm for the changes that are inevitably occurring, we as authors need to shift our perspective and attitude about having to navigate the changes alone. You say “Coco has a team helping him while most of us are doing everything alone.” But we are not! We have each other. And no one understands that as clearly as Kristen Lamb. She’s got a great blog on social media for writers and has written a book on the subject, very aptly titled “We are Not Alone – A Writer’s Guide to Social Media.” We can learn from each other, share our experiences–good and bad, promote each other, support each other in every aspect. Connecting is what social media is all about, so we writers need to learn how to connect with each other, with our fans, and our potential fans, just as Conan has done.

        Thanks for the link to Conan’s story, Ollin. Very interesting! And thank you for your positive and uplifting attitude.

        • Ollin says:

          Great point G.H.! I love the idea that we are supporting each other. And the {C2C} is a great place to do that. Oh, and thank you for the book rec! I’ll have to look into it.

  5. Messina Studio says:

    On a side note, I’m happy to see the word Frak linked to a wiki article about its use in Battlestar Galactica. Yes, I’m a nerd, and I watched every single episode🙂 Great article! I agree that 2012 is not necessarily the end of the world. Everything I have read concerning it speaks of a great change, but not an end. Honestly, I think with our economy being so out of whack and with less and less jobs being offered, that the only way most people will make it by will be to start their own businesses. Most businesses will no longer require a storefront either – now we can use the internet.

  6. As my agent said, “Son, you picked the worst time in the history to be a writer. You also picked the best time.”

    As long as we write to seek what was true before we got here, what is true while we are here, and what will be true after we’re gone, writers will be read.

    Dr. B, author, “The Mandolin Case”

  7. Indeed Ollin. It is a great time to be a writer. Technology is slowly changing the publishing world. It is an exciting time🙂

  8. Cities of the Mind says:

    Change is opportunity for those who embrace it quickly.

  9. Conor Ebbs says:

    Hey Ollin,

    I agree with you. Human nature hasn’t changed, media has, and for the benefit of all who wish to create, share, and distribute their craft.

    Most blogs don’t last past the first 3 months. I imagine many wannabee writers don’t stay the course either, for they aren’t writing out of passion and a deep unrelenting need to create, but out of a desire for shallow success.

    There is too much talk to fear too, of naming it, showing it. Talk, though healthy, and names, though specific, grant power to something that is often no more than a shadow.

    Thank you for highlighting this. Great post.

    Conor

    • Ollin says:

      Beautiful words, Conor.

      No wonder you are a poet. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      You are right, those who are the most passionate will pull through because we really love it–and because we have no other marketable skills!

  10. Nice historical comparisons! And while I’ll admit that there are days that your (funny!!) description fits me to a T: “….pack a bunch of canned peaches, set up a mattress in your basement, and wait for an asteroid to hit….” — I also completely agree that this is one of the most “exciting, inventive, and transformative times” in history — and I am happily along for the wild ride to the big party!

  11. souldipper says:

    Thank you, Ollin. Your post embraces the very reason for writing. The spiritual kick in the butt continues…and because of it, I write. I don’t have one desire to be published.

    The message is Transformation. We have a choice to go with it or resist. The key is to convert one’s thinking from self-serving to other-serving. Look at the examples under our noses where this transformation is underway and proving itself. How about Egypt? It just simply works.

    And it’s not an Armageddon. Or some holocaust. It’s an inside job that is supported by some external changes to catch our attention.

    I was horribly shy about coming out of the spiritual closet to share the messages I’ve been receiving in meditation for ages. Why? It’s too simple. It’s about Love. If people cannot see the evidence, just sit still and listen. Transformative powers are building and we are going to be amazed.

    I agree. This is the greatest of times. We are going to see more and more connectedness, unity and freedom. The line from your post that put joy in my day: “We’ll adapt, we’ll evolve, and as we embrace the new realities of the modern age, we will give ourselves the chance to rise much higher than we could have ever done in any other age.”

    Thanks, Ollin. Your heart is showing. You are such an example. Keep being you.

    It’s already happenin’. Let’s enjoy this incredible ride.

  12. Great post, Ollin! I completely agree, writers aren’t going anywhere. What I, personally, am mightily frightened of is the slow death of print. I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight, and I sure hope that it won’t happen during my lifetime at all, but I do think that digital books will replace printed books at some point, and that makes me sad, because part of my great joy of reading is the physical pleasure I get front the smell of the pages, the weight of a book in my hand, the process of running my fingers over a shelf and pulling out a book to read…

    • Ollin says:

      I was sad about that too. But I think we’ll get used to it. We’re all so used to the ease of mp3’s and I think the ease of eBooks will make it harder and harder to need paperback. Let’s just hope the change doesn’t happen too fast.

  13. jannatwrites says:

    Regardless of the subject, it seems the message that goes around is that the change is terrible and bad things will happen. Of course when this is perpetuated in the media, people will get freaked out and act like the world is coming to an end. Sometimes I wonder if we’ve lost the ability to think rationally, and believe that change can be positive.

  14. You know what’s a bit sad, a few days after I saw this article I saw another article lamenting ebooks and how instead of having a bookshelf full of books that were easy to sort through you had to worry about different formats and couldn’t sort ebooks as easy and you were locked into one format. Think it was called “The pitfalls of ebooks”.

    • Ollin says:

      I have a feeling anything that people are unhappy with will be fixed in due time. Kindle has already started to add page numbers to their books due to complaints. I’m confident the formatting issues will sort themselves out.

  15. Maribeth says:

    I have always been able to adapt to change. Change to me is exciting. I say Bring It!

    Maribeth🙂

  16. cathy says:

    How refreshing to hear that the sky is not really falling, that it is simply changing from metallic blue to gold to the deepest indigo to the blackest black, as does every single thing in the universe. Thanks Ollin for your entertaining, articulate and most important, optimistic, take on this confusing world…

  17. […] Ollin Morales’ blog has become something of an addiction for me. There’re always so many interesting things to read! But I thought I’d share this ’cause a) I need to do homework and don’t have a clue of what to post, and b) it’s interesting. "…the best chance to be whole is to love whatever gets in the way, until it ceases to be an obstacle." – Mark Nepo I've been following a lot of news about writers these days and I keep running into a common theme among all of the articles I have been reading that at this point I could no longer ignore. Now, let me tell you the exact and precise message I have been hearing in the news about the changes that are happening in the publishing indust … Read More […]

  18. tahliaN says:

    I agree, Olin, but then like you, I always look on the bright side of things. It seems to me that as a writer I have lots of options these days, and places like goodreads will soon sort out the bad writers from the good, they’re already saving my from spending money on books the big publisher have deemed good enough to publish and others are clearly disagreeing.

  19. Lex Falcon says:

    I’m all for change in theory — honest, I am! — but in practise… it sort of scares me a little bit.

    Okay, so… academically and intellectually, I recognise that right now, with Twitter and blogging and networking at a peak, self-publishing being a viable possibility for serious authors (and not just something for the “I writed a book it’s not edited but Imma put it on LuLu.com and make a million bucks hur” crowd), and authors having more of a dialogue with their readers and fans than ever before, it’s a really exciting time to be a writer. And most of that doesn’t really scare me — I love being able to network with other writers over Twitter or blogs or whatever else (though I’d love a writer’s Facebook, but you take what you can get :P), and I love the idea of being a published author who can really connect with the readers…

    … it’s just the bit between the determined amateur networking online, and the published author interacting with readers. It’s the part where the book actually gets published.

    I might be on a slight tangent here, as I’m really about to have a bit of a ramble about self-publishing. I’ll try to keep it respectfully quick. A few years back, I had a couple of friends who were into writing poetry. More power to them, absolutely! And I’m no poet, so I had precious little idea whether their poems were any good or not. The thing was, they had this idea that they could self-publish poetry anthologies and instantly be famous poets, and I was sort of thinking… that’s probably not going to work, guys…

    And then you go browsing around a self-publishing site, say, and find all these ‘unprofessional’-looking stories, and you look inside, if the site allows it, and the writing style is tragic, it’s evidently unchanged from the first typo-ridden draft by either writer or editor, and… I just thought Oh god. I’m never going to self-publish.

    Coming back to your point, though, I recognise things are changing, and that’s a good thing. I especially love your idea that an author has to ‘earn his stripes’, as it were, by proving his worth to potential readers — instead of mass-market crud being pushed out by one absentminded publisher. It’s just a scary place.

    Yes, I am excited, don’t get me wrong — but I’m nervous too. I suppose I’m kind of staying on the sidelines for now, trying to work out how this brave new world is going to work, rather than leaping in and embracing it. Maybe I should take the plunge…

    I sincerely hope you don’t mind the sheer length of this comment, Ollin. Your posts seem to inspire over-long responses in me.😉

    • Ollin says:

      Of course I don’t mind long comments! Speak to your hearts content. As you might have noticed, you’re not the only one who is inspired to leave long comments. It tells me that I’m hitting the right cord with my readers. I understand, I think as long as you remain open-minded you should be fine. Good luck to you!

  20. jacquelincangro says:

    Hi Ollin, Nice to stumble on your blog! I love your beginning quote from Mark Nepo. To me, it’s all about the outlook and energy you bring. It can become a self fulfilling prophecy, right? So I try not to be afraid of change, but look on it as new possibilities. When one door closes…

    • Ollin says:

      Another opens! Exactly. If you haven’t, you should read Mark Nepo’s book: “The Book of Awakening…” It’s highly recommended.

  21. Barb says:

    First of all, I think 2012 is the end of the world as we know it, the start of the Age of the Acquarius, when hopefully our consciousness will awake and Truth triumph (dunno you, but I’ve seen plenty of castles of lies crumbling around me, and people are panicking because they can’t keep pretending anymore… ;-)).
    Second, you’re absolutely right, it’s the best time for writers in the whole history of the world. We have more freedom and more technology that allows us to reach our readers wherever they’re hiding, as long as they have an internet connection!🙂
    You had the courage to create, next step is have the courage to put it out there. I’ll be cheering for you, hoping you’ll be cheering for me!🙂
    Happy writing and see you in the brand new world of publishing!

    • Ollin says:

      Hey Barb! Of course I’ll be cheering for you! You see, that’s ANOTHER great thing about this modern age. I get to make connections with other authors like you and we can encourage each other. How wonderful, right?

  22. Aynjele says:

    I love this article. People are usually OK with change as long as it involves someone else yet change seems to be knocking on everyone’s front door these days. It really can be a good thing.
    Thank you for this post:}

  23. […] off, make them shine and put them out there. It’s a brand new world opening for us, and like Ollin said, it’s think it’s time to join the party and start taking our […]

  24. […] Why Today Is The Best Time to Be A Writer In The Entire History of The Whole World “There are SO many more opportunities for us today than there has ever been in the history of the world. Cash-strapped writers can now publicize and promote their books on Twitter and Facebook for–catch this–ZERO DOLLARS. Writers can build a loyal fan base for their fiction books ACROSS THE WORLD for a total of–catch this other one–ZERO DOLLARS. Writers can share their thoughts and ideas, engage in interesting conversations with people they COULD NEVER AFFORD to visit in person, and form new connections and collaborations over a vast expanse of space with–catch this last one–A COST OF ZERO DOLLARS.” ~Ollin Morales at {Courage 2 Create} […]

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