Post: The hopeful author

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You may not realize this, but becoming an author is, in a sense, becoming a business owner. You are the CEO of your writing career. It’s not enough to WRITE well, if you can’t SELL what you write. People must have a desire to read what you write, or that title of “author” becomes an empty term.

If you’ve been in the business of writing for very long, you may have heard the phrase “hope is not a business strategy.” And while this is true, at least for the most part, if you aren’t making hope at least part of your strategy as you pursue your goal to become a published author, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

It’s true, the word ‘hope’ doesn’t necessarily conjure images of success and power, and that’s probably one of the reasons many business leaders shy away from the discussion of hope as part of a their strategy. BUT, and this is a big but, studies indicate that hopeful business owners (including writers who are working themselves into those best-seller spots) have more engaged team members, are more efficient when it comes to problem-solving, and generally see more success than their more crotchety counterparts. You may never have considered that your editor and publicist and publisher are directly impacted by your level of hopefulness, but they are – they always will be. The more hopeful you are about the success of your book, they more driven your circle will be to help you reach your goals.

The Business of Being an Author

The big question is, if you are habitually negative, how do you turn it around?

As a person of faith, I obviously always turn to my faith to answer questions like this. But, not everyone believes what I believe, or knows what I know. So the real question is, how can I, as a publisher, help those who have different views than I do to change their mindsets, and recognize the value in maintaining hope?

I found my answer in the study of psychology.

The American Psychological Association has released information surrounding years of study on the benefits of hope in the human experience.

One of the most promising components of this information that, in a study published online, researchers compare the relationship between hope and productivity by analyzing 45 studies that looked at more than 11,000 employees, across various workplace conditions. At the end of the study, they concluded that hope accounts for 14% of the productivity in the workplace. This percentage amounts to more than intelligence, optimism, or self-efficacy (Journal of Positive Psychology, 2013). 

“Basically a hopeful person does one day a week more work than a less hopeful person in a seven-day work week,” the researchers say. “It’s quite a big chunk of the pie.”

So, how could you, as a writer, use that WHOLE EXTRA DAY PER WEEK to move toward your goals? How can you begin to foster feelings of hopefulness within yourself?

I recommend that your first step be gratitude. If you begin to pay close attention to the things in your life for which you should be grateful, it will be easier to make the transition to hopefulness.

There are always things for which we can be grateful. If you recognize that you have things other people lack, like shoes on your feet or clean water, among thousands of others, you can begin to feel gratitude for even the simplest of things. Making the transition from gratitude to hope is recognizing that without certain characteristics, you would not be who you are. Nor would you have the things you have.

Obviously, I could go into a diatribe about my faith at this point, but I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to tell you that hopefulness in the business of writing is recognizing that things could be better, and acknowledging your power to help make them that way. No matter what things need improved upon, knowing that they can be improved upon inspires feelings of hope. Beyond that, acknowledging that your everyday actions can contribute to the betterment of everyone around you can also foster further feelings of hope.

So first things first, take stock of what you have, no matter how tiny. Recognize the value in your tiny ‘having,’ and use that gratitude to help you identify the things you can make better. It’s a small step, but as they say, that is how every great journey begins.