Invest & Prosper: Investment #1—Your Energy

Christina KatzBy Christina Katz
(From the January 2008 issue of The Writer Mama zine)

If there is one thing I wish I’d learned sooner about writing for profit, it’s that I needed to invest in my career in order for it to prosper. I’m not sure why I resisted this idea for so long. I thought I already knew how to write, so I should just be able to put those skills to work and make money wherever and whenever I wanted.

Seems sensible, right?

But prosperity doesn’t work that way. If you want to make prosperity disappear altogether, hold back or be too picky and it will evaporate like a puddle on an August day. In fact, I can trace the expansion of my success straight back to my willingness to invest in my career. Today my writing is still expanding and so, of course, I’m still investing, just as any businessperson would. Yet, because my investment has been gradual and in proportion to my income, the outlay has been manageable over the years, and so much cheaper than the start-up costs of most businesses.

In a 1989 essay for the New York Times book section, Annie Dillard wrote, “Write Till You Drop.” I’ve never forgotten what she said:

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

Don’t stifle your energy for writing before it even has a fighting chance. Instead get involved with or start up as many writing-associated endeavors as you can. Every drop of energy you spend on your writing and your writing career will come back to you tenfold. And sooner than you might imagine.

So, come on. Gather up however much energy you can muster for your writing career today and spend it! This is just the first investment you’ll make. I’ll explore a total of ten investments throughout the rest of the year. Spend your energy more strategically as you go and you will prosper. That’s what investing is all about.

What do you want to write today?

Christina Katz, author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, is working on her second book for Writer’s Digest Books, Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform. She has also written over two hundred articles for magazines, newspapers, and online publications and has appeared on “Good Morning America.” Christina is a popular writing instructor who has taught hundreds of writers over the past seven years. She blogs daily at The Writer Mama Riffs and is publisher and editor of two zines, Writers on the Rise and The Writer Mama. More at


4 Responses to “Invest & Prosper: Investment #1—Your Energy”

  1. 1 Linda Harris January 2, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Thanks for this encouragement. I don’t hesitate to invest in my career by attending writers conferences, but for some reason, I haven’t been able to invest in marketing preparation–such as starting a website or blog. I’m hoping 2008 is the year I’ll get a contract, but I know marketing avenues need to be in place when that happens. Your article may just get me started!

  2. 2 Lis Garrett ~ a writer's woolgatherings January 2, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    WOW! This is exactly the advice I needed to hear. I am constantly “saving” my ideas for the right opportunity to come along, and nothing is being gained for it. I’ll definitely be rethinking some things . . .

  3. 3 Jen Levin January 2, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Thank you so much for your inspirational words!! Your thoughts spoke volumes to me. Since I’m just starting out as a Writer Mama, I have many goals set for 2008…but none of that will happen unless I sit down and invest the time to make it happen. A good dose of confidence wouldn’t hurt either.

    I’m thoroughly enjoying your book and online resources. Thanks so much for sharing your passion for writing and being an inspiration to us all.

    By the way, if I may ask, what is your “one word” for January? Mine is “now”! This applies to me is so many aspects of my life. But the main reason I chose this word is to remind myself to live in the moment…now. My children are 7, 5 & 3, and I’ve realized this holiday season that they are growing up before my eyes, and often times, I’m too busy living day to day life to notice the wonderful and precious moments that we have each day. I want to learn to take the time to stop and absorb everything, especially all the giggles, snuggles and kisses. I wish there was a way to memorize everything about each of them. Until I figure out how to do that, I’ll just work on enjoying each and every minute as it happens.

    Happy New Year!

  4. 4 Alyson Hill January 3, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Hey Jen..when you get a spare minute (HA!) why don’t you write a letter to each of your kids about who they are as a seven year and old/five year old/three year old. It isn’t really for them, it’s for you, for now. For you, it will help you record where they are, and the great things they do and the annoying things they do (and take the sting out of it) plus it may give you some things you can use in your writing. For them, one day, it will be a great and funny record by their wonderful writer mum, who noticed the little things they were doing even when they weren’t looking, and something they may even share with their kids one day. Cheers!

    Happy, healthy 2008!

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