Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What Retail Taught Me About Writing


I realized that some of the things I learned working in retail for eleven years are applicable to writing.
  1. Some people are truly expendable. They add nothing and often just get in the way.
  2. If, in the process of reassembly, you have extra parts, chances are very good that those parts are unncessary.
  3. There is no such thing as a "minor" change.
  4. You accomplish a great many more things if you do them, rather than if you merely talk about how you do them.
  5. The end results are nearly always better than the process, be it finishing a book or getting paid at the end of the week.
  6. Every "authority" will say something different in response to the same question. The best listerners will hear it all, then sort out what works best for them, knowing that it is impossible to please everyone.
  7. It doesn't pay well.
  8. It's important to do the mundane clean-up tasks, either straightening shelves or copyediting for typos, etc. If you've done it right, the audience will only notice that it looks nice. if you do it wrong, the audience will draw the worst conclusions.
  9. People judge the quality of work based on a tiny sample. A messy endcap means a trashed department-- and a sloppy first chapter means a poorly written book.
  10. Everyone thinks it's easy, but only those who have truly undertaken the job, with the goal of being GOOD at it, understand just how much hard work it requires.