Nothing is really wasted

If you haven't noticed, I haven't written in a while, primarily because life circumstances are not allowing it.

The funny thing is, this off time has resulted in my figuring out some plot problems in Trials that were bedeviling me, and gave me some good ideas for making the book's climaxes more climatic. So this "wasted" time, this time not spent writing, has actually turned out to be really beneficial, and when I finally get back to writing (which I will), I will do so feeling newly excited about my book.

That got me thinking about how very few things are truly wasted. For example, I "wasted" a good deal of money marketing at sci-fi conventions--and indeed, from a marketing perspective, that money was very poorly spent. But from a professional-development standpoint? Well, I probably wouldn't be doing an audiobook right now were it not for the money "wasted" at GeekGirlCon.

And remember that very successful indie writer I met earlier? This person initially put tremendous effort into social media, garnering gazillions of Twitter and Facebook followers, and then discovered that those followers were not their actual audience.

What did this writer do? Well, they started a business promoting indie books. It turns out that having a business that promotes lots and lots of other people's books affords excellent opportunities to promote your own as well!

While having big social-media presence among authors might not have directly led to sales, I'm sure it helped to build this book-promotion business--which did lead to quite a lot of sales.

You just never know. Crabby McSlacker, who just produced a book based on her Cranky Fitness blog, writes

I said goodbye to Cranky Fitness back in the beginning of 2010, with no plans to return. I had tried to turn it into a part time job, but alas, couldn't get quite enough ad revenue to swing it.  But I left the blog up, and checked back in every quarter or so with an update... just in case.  Then after a year and a half (an eternity in blog time) I missed it too much.[. . .] Plus I'd reinvented myself as a Life Coach and figured it might make sense to use Cranky Fitness to let people know about that.  Quitting back in 2010 was totally the right thing to do! And yet, so was returning.[. .  .]

Did I regret all the time I'd spent on Cranky Fitness the day I quit?  You betcha!  Do I regret it now? Not one bit.  Life is weird that way.

Before you think this is all mushy Pollyannaish goo, it turns out that a willingness to be a little wasteful, as well as a willingness to work with what you have (which includes the results of previous "wasted" efforts) are both traits of successful entrepreneurs. According to the Wall Street Journal (emphasis added):

Research by Saras Sarasvathy, an associate professor of business administration at the University of Virginia, suggests that learning to accommodate feelings of uncertainty is not just the key to a more balanced life but often leads to prosperity as well. For one project, she interviewed 45 successful entrepreneurs, all of whom had taken at least one business public. Almost none embraced the idea of writing comprehensive business plans or conducting extensive market research.

They practiced instead what Prof. Sarasvathy calls "effectuation." Rather than choosing a goal and then making a plan to achieve it, they took stock of the means and materials at their disposal, then imagined the possible ends. Effectuation also includes what she calls the "affordable loss principle." Instead of focusing on the possibility of spectacular rewards from a venture, ask how great the loss would be if it failed. If the potential loss seems tolerable, take the next step.