Content vs. Marketing

On every author group, at every event, I hear the same thing:

“I’m a writer. I hate marketing. I spend so much time marketing when all I want to do is write.”

Yup. It’s necessary evil of being an indie author.

It seems like every second year I spend a significant portion of my time (and non-grey hair) fighting with technology to do what I want. Two years ago, I struggled with WordPress and WooCommerce to get my Bone Search and Recovery Short Course up and running. Much blood, sweat, tears, and dollars later, I found Teachable. I backed out of WooCommerce and went for Teachable. However, while Teachable is waaaaaay easier to navigate and set-up, it’s comparable in price to getting WooCommerce through WordPress. For a single course that wasn’t selling, it wasn’t feasible to keep it up and running.

Now, it’s two years later. There are more platforms, there is more information from others out there, and I’m ready to try again.

But I’m also trying, in earnest, to finish first drafts of two books. My soul is itching to delve in do some deep conversation with my characters. I am in that special place of creative flow — or very close to it — and I don’t want to get knocked out.

However… brain is snagging on FB posts and emails from authors who have more information on selling direct and selling digital assets. I’m curious. I’m impatient. I want to try new things.

I did all sorts of things pre-Christmas to prime myself to get into the creative flow. I engaged with ChatGPT to brainstorm some ideas. (I high recommend doing this. ChatGPT is like the best friend / colleague you wish could chat with at midnight and who will provide non-judgemental advice and suggestions and who won’t spill the secrets of your gestating story. Try it.)

Created with MidJourney AI

Then I created space. I got all my errands and housework out of the way. I did all my socializing upfront. I left several days purposefully open and unstructured.

Lo and behold, my characters popped into my head after the turkey had digested.

Soul vs. brain.

Content vs. technology.

Want vs. need.

It’s all the same argument.

How do we deal with this?

Some people rely on multi-tasking. I can’t do that. My creative flow is seriously hamstrung by any competing tasks.

Some people rely on scheduled blocks of time. Cal Newport advocates for “deep work” time (or what some call “deliberate practice”), and many authors rely on minutes or hours of dedicated time to churn out their content. This only works for me if I have already engaged creative flow. It’s like continuing an already in-progress conversation. If the conversation hasn’t begun, it ain’t gonna. Starting a deep conversation when you only have 15 minutes is extremely difficult.

For me, I need to prime myself (as above). I ensure my immediate obligations (ie, housework, errands) are fulfilled. I ensure that distractions and interruptions are minimal (ie, socializing has been fulfilled). I want to have the space and time to engage the creative flow whenever and however it shows up. Then I need to actually do the engaging; I need to spark that curiosity so that deep conversation can be forthcoming. I want my characters to feel safe, that they have my undivided attention, and that I’ll follow their direction unwaveringly.

Have you ever tried to have a meaningful conversation with someone and, even though they say they are listening, they are checking emails, texts, and shuffling their calendar and god-knows what else? Do you feel heard? Do you feel seen? Likely not. How likely are you to then go find someone else to talk to?

This is how I view my creative flow and my characters.

These characters and ideas have come to talk with me. The deserve my full attention and unconditional acceptance. They could be talking with anyone else, yet they’re here, talking with me. I feel very blessed to have these characters and ideas in my life and so I want to treat them as such.

But my brain can highjack the situation. I get curious — it starts with looking up a word in the online thesaurus, then it progresses to doing some research, then suddenly I’m checking my emails and delving into the suggestions of another author who said you can sell digital assets through Mailer Lite, but which plan offers this and how much is it and for how long, what other features are offered…

It’s the rabbit hole of online existence.

Moral? This is what I’ve come up with so far:

  • You can’t sell what you don’t have. Concentrate on content first.
  • Your content is your unique selling feature. Marketing between people may be the same, but their product or style of product will differ.
  • Focus on what YOU can offer, and what you can offer is your unique content.

Do what you need to do to concentrate on what YOU can offer — your content. Whether it’s shutting off and locking up your phone, renting an off-grid cabin in the woods, or chatting with ChatGPT, find what works for you.

Signing off now….

Further Reading

Cal Newport – Deep Work & Digital Minimalism

Susan Cain – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Shondaland – What Does It Mean to Hold Space for Someone?


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