Writing When Sunset Is Closer Than Dawn

Nothing helps a writer focus more than a serious deadline.

Douglas Green
Jan 28 · 5 min read

I live a creator’s life. And that rather bald statement belies the range of things I’ve done over my life — from acting in a theatre and a department head in a psychiatric hospital to owning a large specialist plant nursery. I write books using three pen names in three genres, and I’m published both traditionally and self-published. And then there are the dry stone walls, carving both in stone and wood and…

The list continues but I’m sure you get the point. I love the excitement of the creative act. My brain constantly creates bright and shiny opportunities for new and interesting things.

And amidst all this, I’ve funded a lifestyle that encourages this kind of behaviour.

Photo by Kurniawan kami saputra on Unsplash

Expressing Gratitude

Expressing gratitude is also one thing I do every morning in my writing notes. I find at least three things I’m genuinely grateful for and spend time both writing those out and thinking about them.

For example, I remember my last private pilot’s flight as I wandered across the countryside enjoying the eagle’s view and on my final approach to landing I confirmed this was indeed my last flight. I also expressed my gratitude for the experience. Later I wrote notes to myself about the experience and the things I’d learned so I wouldn’t forget them.

One Of The Things I Mention Most Often

At 71, I’m also grateful for my health. While some friends have faltered and slowed along the way, I’m still moving — albeit slower — towards adventure.

For example, I just found a scuba air tank at a yard sale so diving this summer may change from mostly snorkelling to deeper, more prolonged underwater adventures. And yes, I got my scuba license for my 65th birthday.

But I Want To Focus On Gardening In This Note

I’m grateful to the gardening world for that part of my life. From the folks who supported my nursery — with 1600 different species/varieties of perennials and 600 different species/varieties of annual flowers every year — to the people who support my garden book writing now.

I’m also grateful to you for following me here on Medium.

I Feel Ancient As I Transition Once Again.

I started my garden writing career on that fabled, big, black Underwood typewriter. I’d snail-mail articles for submission and book manuscripts to my agent.

We got into the “big tech” movement when I began faxing my column to the newspaper. (Big excitement ensued!)

My first computer (1986 I believe) ran simple software (Wordperfect) but I can always remember how much more quickly I wrote — and how I had to learn how to think/compose faster — with that first word processor and hammering dot-matrix printer.

As I write, I’m transitioning to dictation rather than thumping away at my big iMac.

Things move on.

That’s Happening Again

One thing that’s moved on (at least for me) is making money with a gardening website. The short version is that Facebook and Google have sucked the life from the advertising industry and gardening was never a high-profit advertising venue to begin with.

Google Short-Circuits The Cycle

Google has even short-circuited the content website by showing information on the search page. (Go to Google and search for something like “how far apart to plant tomatoes?”)

The answer will appear on the search page and the person who wrote that content will receive nothing for providing Google with the answer.

You have the information you need. Google gets the advertising dollars and the content creator gets nothing.

And This Begs The Question

If I want to continue to a) write and b) want to make money doing it, where do I put my energy?

Medium? The monthly income won’t buy me a coffee and croissant at my favorite coffee shop. (Note — in the final days of my 800 post self-hosted website, Adsense wasn’t much better.)

Will it get better here on Medium? How long and how much time would it take to — at a minimum — equal what a book would make for the same time and energy? Good questions I’m sure.

Ebooks? Yes, that’s an area that remains profitable, although competitive.

Gardening? I have 23 gardening ebooks so yes, those will remain. But every sale is a one-off on each topic. Best-selling garden books do not come close to even a mid-list fiction book in sales totals.

Fiction? Your favourite fiction writer likely puts out 3–4 books in each story line so if you like the first, you’ll buy the subsequent books. Lots to learn here which is a major part of the challenge for me.

I’m Moving On

Remember from the top of this note I said I had three pen names in three genres?

I’ve got two growing fiction email lists and growing sales in both fiction genres (compared to slowing sales only maintained by advertising in gardening.)

I’ll be focussing 98% of my time and energy on those fiction areas.

What About Gardening Here On Medium?

This is where the “other 2%” comes into play. The key point was the low response from over 5000 Facebook readers to get a free account here. If my readers — even those who call themselves ‘fans’ won’t even take a “free” account then… (Rolling his eyes, he continues.)

Even adjusting for the lowered numbers of readers who saw the post, it was an underwhelming response.

With that level of response, I’ve also stopped updating that Facebook page as a waste of my time.

To those who still believe social media is a prime mover for author platform development — I just showed it wasn’t a prime mover for my writing so why then would I continue supporting it?

I debated deleting the Facebook account but held on to it and will update it if I find something I truly want to share. It also may be useful should I experiment further with gardening-book promotion on FB.

What About Updating Gardening Here On Medium?

Sporadic is the word I will use.

I’ll continue to write posts but I ended my project to move all 800 posts from my old website.

The 125 posts I’ve uploaded will have to suffice for a base. There’s no timetable or schedule to upload new posts here.

The publishing plan is “When the spirit moves me.”

The Title Of This Post

Nothing concentrates a writer’s mind like a looming deadline. In all the years of writing, I never missed a publishing deadline. Not once. Ever. Period.

I’m sure I won’t miss the big deadline either but I’m sure as hell going to get as much created before that bell rings.

As always, thanks for reading.

Doug

Douglas Green

Written by

Former nurseryman, now award-winning garden writer focussed on helping others with their organic gardening challenges. A syncretic reader and writer...

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