Reliability: The Writer’s Most Crucial Trait

Back at the ArmadilloCon Writers’ Workshop, one piece of advice I felt comfortable dispensing to the crowd of students was about any social media presence they might have.  Namely, I said, “If you’re going to have a blog, then have a blog.”  It’s advice I live by: I’ve steadily posted here twice a week for a year and a half, and here I am with my 250th entry.  But the reasoning behind my advice is this: if you’re going to have a presence online as a writer (and you should, and you should be building it before you really “make a name” for yourself), then make sure your presence is one that shows you as a person who gets stuff done, regularly and systematically. 

I know when I’ve had to research fledgling writers, there’s nothing quite as disappointing as finding their blog with only a handful of haphazard entries, like thirteen scattered over the course of a year.  Or with a flurry of daily entries for about three weeks, that then tapers off to an unpredictable drip.  These things show me that a writer cannot follow through, or that they are incredibly unfocused.  If I were a publisher or an agent, and I found that, I would be highly disinclined to sign with such a person, regardless of their talent.

For example, I read a fair amount of media tie-in books as my “popcorn” reading.  There is one particularly prolific author in the media tie-in world whose style… I’m not a fan of. But he keeps getting work. Why?  I suspect the “prolific” part plays into it.  He takes the job and gets it done.  You can’t deny the appeal of that.

Because when it comes down to it, reliability trumps talent in the business side of things.  Not that talent isn’t crucial as well, but looking at the business side, which would you rather have: someone who might give you something amazing, but you’re not sure when (or if) you’ll actually get it, or someone who will make every deadline and deliver something that’s acceptable?  Not brilliant or earthshattering… but perfectly fine.  You need something on the shelves in October, so you want the job done, period.

Of course, ideally, one tries to be brilliant and reliable.  Still working on that one.