Thursday, November 14, 2013

What Writers Can Teach Entrepreneurs by Jill Crossland

Jill Crossland: So good to be back with you, I see some familiar faces and some new ones. This is my third time on Jungle Red Writers. An emailed invitation from Roberta always gives me a Sally Field  “They like me, they really like me.” moment followed by ‘everyone else was probably too busy’. 

And Roberta I know I am supposed to call you Lucy (Burdette) but to me you are Roberta and mother of Australian Shepherd, Tonka. And you know I have a red Aussie named Mia and an SPCA three-legged  mix breed  but I  am not here to discuss my favorite subjects, dogs, wine and food.

One suggested topic for my post was ‘What writers can learn from entrepreneurs?’ and I’m thinking is Roberta kidding? I look at all of the Jungle Reds: Most of you have others jobs, do philanthropic work, or share your craft through workshops, as well as being authors. You all do book promotions, interviews, maintain your social media, raise families and the list goes go. There is not much of my expertise that I can add to that. 

Allow me instead to back track a few years when I announced “I am going to write a business book”. That was all it was supposed to take; put my intention out there and everything would manifest to produce the next great business book.  It never happened. Lots of other things happened, but no book. When I visualize the jigsaw puzzle of my professional life the writing piece is always the one left on the coffee table. 

If you Google ‘What is an entrepreneur?’ the Merriam-Webster definition is ‘a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money.’ The word origin is Enterprise - the ability or desire to do dangerous or difficult things or to solve problems in new ways. 

Famous entrepreneurs have included the Body Shop’s Anita Roddick, Richard Branson, Bill Gates and even Coco Chanel. Over the years many have written books; some have chosen to share their personal story, while others turned their business highs and lows into some timeless business publications.  

My unwritten book bothers me so I reversed this posts title to ask ‘What can entrepreneurs learn from writers?’  Taking the risk of writing doesn't look like a big leap and yet it stumps me.

You have all had your share of fears, time issues and life/work imbalances; what advice and thoughts do you have for the next Seth Godin or Michael E Gerber?  

And if anyone has questions about business,  I would be happy to answer them. Thank you to Lucy Burdette and all the Jungle Red writers for having me here today. 

Jill Crossland Consulting provides marketing, social media, business and writing services. Check out their new website …………………… or join Jill on her favorite social media outlet Twitter -

Lucy: Jill would love to hear your suggestions about writing and is happy to take questions about business, entrepreneurs, wine, and Australian shepherds!


  1. The first time I saw an Australian Shepherd I fell in love. He was riding in the crows nest of a cowboys' horse trailer. He was just beautiful. They were headed up to the mountains to bring the cattle down to the valley before the cold weather set in. They passed through our little ranch in California and stopped at the house to say hello and let us know they were going through. I talked to them as long as they would stay put, so I could get a better look at their dog.

  2. The cowboys weren't bad to look at, either.

  3. Reine, you are so funny! Jill, it's so lovely to meet you.

  4. LOL Reine, you can't imagine the attention Tonka gets when he's in Key West. Earlier this week he was admired by two people from a cruise ship who visited with us and then insisted that we watch videos of their dog at home in the kennel:)

    To your question Jill, I remember one tip when I was just getting started from the amazing writer and teacher, William Zinsser. He told us to write one longhand page every day and put it in a folder. By the month's end, you had 30 pages--which began to made the project feel do-able.

    Other writing tips please!

  5. A tip I always give new writers is that NOTHING IS WRITTEN IN STONE. Be prepared to discard/slash anything that isn't working.
    A big decision is when to come into the life story of your protagonist. The right first chapter and right moment is crucial. So always ask "Do we need to know this?"

  6. No229oineemaRoberta, Tonka is SOOO CUTE!!!!

    I try to do 1,000 words per day. Sometimes it doesn't happen. Sometimes more words happen. But it's good to have a daily goal/deadline, I think. And I tend to work seven days a week, even if it's just for a short time each day. Too many days away from the manuscript makes me feel distant from my characters.

  7. Good morning everyone.Some good suggestions already. Your posts yesterday about desks also got me thinking, when I go into my office I automatically go into work mode – clients, projects etc……… Perhaps I need to look at my work space so that there is an area to write without feeling distracted.

    All of you have published many books, do you still get a bit of a fear factor when you sit down to write or does that lessen with time?

  8. Set your alarm, make up your mind and plan your day so that the FIRST THING you do every day is write.

  9. Yes, yes, good ideas Susan and Jack. Make it a priority and set yourself some manageable short term goals.

    Jill, I think you're on to something with identifying a special writing work space.

    And yes absolutely to the fear question. We all quake and shiver no matter how many books we've written! (more on that next week)

  10. I was going to ask Jill if starting new businesses ever got any easier, because starting new books doesn't!

    Good suggestions from everyone. I wish I could say I followed them all.

    You have to think of a book in large terms--the story arc, where it starts, where it ends--but in order to get any words on a page in a day I have to think in VERY small chunks. As in "I'm going to write 250 words now. Just 250. Of course I can do that." And then do it again. And again.

    Jill, Lucy, and Reine--I love Aussie's almost as much as German shepherds:-) And Tonka is gorgeous!

  11. Deb - no starting a new business never gets easy.I always recommend to clients that one way around that is to create a good support team.

    I have had my own company for over 10 years and still wake up at 2:30am worrying about something or other... but I wouldn't trade it.

  12. Oh by the way, the red merle Aussie in the post is Jill's Mia. Tonka is a blue merle with spooky blue eyes:)

    Debs, exactly with the small small bites...I am just today starting a writing challenge with a buddy who also needs to get moving--1000 words a day. So far i have 800...

  13. Here's one of my favorite pieces of advice from the fabulous Elizabeth George. I've had this post on my bulletin board for over a decade:

    "Get up and face the day, every day, to do what it takes to be a writer."

    It's all about having bum glue.

  14. My advice, hmmm. I think taking it in small chunks if how I manage--I know how many workdsI have to write to finish, and when I have to I just--do long division. :-) And usually it comes out to about 640 words a day. Which is doable! SO if I do that--and sometimes more, I can let go of some of the fear.

    I also trust the universe, you know? When I need a good idea, it'll come, if I just allow it. Sometimes the universe teases me a bit, I must admit. But it has never ever failed me.

    Again, I think that has to do with letting go of the fear.

  15. Yes I agree about the small chunks I and a lot of other entrepreneurs are making it way too big in our heads.

    But I would like to address the 'elephant in my office' when the book is done it is hard to get a publishers attention. Should we be realistic and self-publish or try pitching?

  16. Okay--how about this. What do you really think about Facebook and Twitter?

  17. I'd love the answer to that one too, Hank. Do Twitter and Facebook really help us sell books?

  18. Oh, Hank, I read your guest post yesterday on Book Beat Babes. Being ready -- yes. I printed it out. :-)

  19. Facebook is definitely more an online community. It lets your readers know where you are and what you are up to and even a touch of who you are. So that sharing of how the latest book is doing, mixed with a favorite recipe, family antidote or some misadventures all help the reader feels closer to the author as a person. It has increased your fan base so yes, that helps sales.

    Twitter tends to be more about promotion. It is the place where your peers and colleagues are. It also provides opportunity for cross-promotion.

  20. Lucy, Tonka must be beautiful. I especially love the blue merle, but Jill's red is gorgeous, too. The Cowboys' Aussie was a blue merle. His eyes were startling. Someone I knew over there had a litter of crossed Aussie-German Shepherds. She was giving them away from the back of her pickup parked in front of the local general store down in Onyx. I almost got one but our house was 18 miles down the road-turn right after the third cattleguard-cross the creek-and up the other side, so by the time I got the news over the CB and got to the Onyx Store I was too late by five minutes!

  21. Jill, I love Facebook for keeping in touch with people, It's much easier to follow what's going on in publishing and writing. You learn and communicate more as a group. More information quicker and responsive... Much better than individual emails for this type of thing. I think.

    Jill, I've been doing NaNoWriMo. This year I developed a new system for myself so that I could keep up. I don't know if it would work for anyone else, and I would be interested in your thoughts. I have found that I can push toward 500 words fairly easily. When I hit 500 I stop and take a break. Then I go back for the next 500 until I have 2000. That put me I had so that when I had to take off to visit my husband in the hospital I was able to catch up and be on schedule again very quickly.

    What's most interesting for me is the writing is more fun this year. In past years it was very hard work. This year I'm enjoying it. It may have nothing to do with my new system. Last year was a very bad year for my family, so that undoubtedly affected last year. But this year is much different in what I am able to write. It may be crap but I'm at least writing it.

  22. Go Reine! So glad the muse is with you.

    Jill, I wouldn't let the question of HOW to publish slow down the writing. Rough out what you want to say, points you want to make, and search out some article on nonfiction proposals so you see what you need. None of this effort will be wasted, regardless of how the book is 2 cents

  23. I do tend to over-analyze which makes me a good consultant but messes up my creative side!

  24. Too early to drink wine yet, so still able to answer any business or marketing questions.

    Not sure if you all realize what a high regard entrepreneurs have for published authors. We read the business pages and know what a tough industry you are all in. So "bravo"

  25. Reine - great system for NaNoWriMo. I always find that no matter what you are doing you have to find the groove or style that works best for you.

    Clients often want a blk/white system for running their business but with time they realize they have to adjust it for their personality and lifestyle.