Welcome to the Dojo Wisdom for Writers Book Club! Every Wednesday, we meet to discuss one of the lessons in Dojo Wisdom for Writers. We’ll go in order, so it’s easy enough to follow along. Read the lesson, then read the blog post, then comment in the comments! Do feel free to comment on each other’s comments. I’ll answer questions as quickly as I can.
Lesson #11. Flexibility Is Strength
When I first started out as a writer, I had some idea of what I wanted to do but it turned out that what people would pay me to do was an entirely different animal. So, I had to be flexible about the kind of work I took on. I think it’s fair to say that I never expected to write a million words (give or take) about martial arts.
Also, fair to say that I never thought I’d be writing a million words of lighthearted romance, either.
That’s not to say that you can’t have a plan—having a plan is important. It gives you direction and helps you figure out what to do next. But a plan only gets you so far. A plan is a snapshot of how you intend to deal with the world the way you perceive it to be at one moment in time with a specific amount of information. When the information changes or the world changes or your perceptions change, your plan needs to change, too.
It’s in this flexibility that you’ll find strength—the kind of strength that will help you succeed as a writer.
Early in my career I learned that I needed to be flexible. But it’s a quality I still need to cultivate nearly twenty years after my first book was published. Many writers who have been in business for a long time have found it very difficult to adjust to the new realities of the publishing industry. I’ll be the first to say that it’s not easy. But wishing things could be the way they were, or that you could continue to have success working the way you used to doesn’t help you deal with the reality. Flexibility allows you to deal with change, whenever and however that change appears.
One thing that helps me be flexible is to not get hung up on some ideal of what my career should look like. I try to think of it as an adventure, and who knows what might be around the corner? Explore, learn, try something new.
What are your thoughts about flexibility and change in a writer’s career?