Following Trends

I’m still working my way through old blog posts I’ve bookmarked to share, but I ran across a new one by KKR yesterday that I figured was worth sharing now: Business Musings: Following The Crowd

This one’s especially interesting because I think it’s probably KKR’s response to a certain forum thread from a few weeks back where a former acolyte of Dean & Kris’s just would not stop criticizing them about their argument against following trends.  The author in that thread claimed to be experiencing substantial financial success by chasing trends and argued that Dean & Kris didn’t know what they were talking about.

It was a very painful thread to read, because that author was clearly hurt over a parting of ways with Dean & Kris and definitely had an agenda.

At the time, I sat back and read the thread and thought, you know, the people who’ve been professional writers for thirty-plus years may very well know something this person doesn’t.

Also, having spent fifteen years in a career where I saw more and more financial success and less and less happiness, I’ve learned that chasing the money at the expense of anything else is a fool’s errand.  Or at least it eventually becomes a highly painful way of living your life.  (I don’t think I’d change that path, though.  I needed to do what I needed to do when I needed to do it.  But I don’t regret for one moment quitting my full-time job when I did.)

So, anyway.  This is a great article by KKR where she basically argues that you should like what you write and not get sucked into following trends.  Also, that a writer’s career is not a straight line upward.

A few quotes:

“Sometimes, for some of them, following the trend works, and they find their niche. But for a lot of folks, they wake up one day to find themselves not wanting to go to their writing desk because sitting there feels too much like the day job they quit (or are still working in the hopes of a windfall).”

“To me—and this is probably just me—it completely defeats the point of being a freelance writer. If I wanted a day job, I’d get one.”

“But if you’re a long-time observer of writing careers, like I am (and like Dean is), you realize that today’s success story is tomorrow’s struggling writer.”

Definitely go read the article.  There’s this tendency of the human mind to believe that things have changed, that we’re in revolutionary new times, and all the rules are different.

I saw this in the finance field.  This irrational belief that companies that make no money are worth billions of dollar because this day and age is fundamentally different than any that came before it.

But if you’re around long enough you know that there will be another bubble and another crash.  That’s how the cycle works.  The more I see, the more I’m convinced that most things follow a pendulum model where they swing too far to the right, correct themselves, swing too far to the left, correct themselves, etc.  And every time you’re on one extreme of the swing no one believes that it will ever swing back the other way.

They’re usually wrong.

So, listen to those who’ve been around a bit.  Yeah, things change, but they never actually change that much.

And I should point out some irony here since I did recently branch into writing some more popular genres myself and did see a definite financial return from doing so.  Most of what I wrote, though, is stuff I’d toyed with writing anyway and just hadn’t wanted to focus on because I love spec fic so much.I think it is worth considering that if you have three ideas one is far more likely to succeed than the other two and choosing that one to focus your efforts on makes a lot of sense.What I’ll say, personally, is that if you do go the more popular/easier money route, make sure you’re still writing things you like to write.  You’re not doing yourself any favors if you hate sitting down to write every day.  Trust me, there are many easier ways to make money than writing.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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