I’m a big believer in Simon Sinek’s Start With Why notion. It posits that before you get to the how and the what, you really need to figure out the why. This applies to any endeavour, be it personal or professional and as an individual or a group. It’s what separates companies and organisations with strong brands and authenticity from run-of-the-mill corporations, and it’s what can help individuals figure our purpose and direction.
It’s also remarkably hard to do. Saying what you do and how you do it is pretty simple. Saying why you bother in the first place can be a real challenge. Figure it out, though, and all your decisions will flow naturally from that central why. Everything will immediately make more sense.
Take me, for example. For many years I was confused about my professional day job, which was in digital marketing and communications. All very well, because I worked at a small software company called FXHOME, where I could be proud of the products and knew that the company would always treat customers fairly and with respect, but the idea of changing job seemed impossible – I couldn’t stomach the idea of doing marketing on a product I didn’t believe in. The FXHOME job was disparate and multi-faceted, and I couldn’t imagine another role ticking all the boxes.
At the time I was thinking of myself as a tech expert, a software trainer, and as being entirely embedded in the indie filmmaking world. It was only once I drilled down to my why that I realised I’d been spending far too much time focusing on the what.
Ultimately, I like doing creative things which help other people be more creative. As long as however I’m spending my time is achieving that – it doesn’t really matter how – then I’m happy. And so in 2016 I changed job to works at Writers’ Centre Norwich, where I’m now doing their digital marketing. It’s another diverse role with a heavy literature focus but that core why remains intact: I’m helping writers at all levels, instead of filmmakers, and am continuing to solve creative marketing and communications puzzles in ways which fundamentally strive to respect the end user.
Outside of work I write and publish new fiction every week, over on Wattpad. My first novel written in this manner was A Day of Faces and I’m now in the middle of The Mechanical Crown. I have a Patreon, I have this website, I publish an audiobook. It was all a bit confusing, because I hadn’t applied my why effectively to what I do outside of the day job. My fiction writing is hugely important to me, but it’s not why people might want to visit my website or back my work on Patreon.
In the background, I’ve always blogged about the writing process. I enjoy sharing my writing experience and knowledge – and sharing what I don’t know but am trying to work out – but had never focused on this as the primary purpose. Which, in retrospect, was silly. The idea, therefore, is to bring that to the foreground, rather than presenting it as a ‘bonus’ thing.
Over the last month-or-so I’ve redesigned simonkjones.com and my Patreon to have a heavy focus on writing advice and productivity, because that’s at the core of why I bother to get up in the morning. I want to help other writers be writers. Hence this blog going forward will be far more practical, diving into writing techniques and practical advice for indie authors.
Lots more still to come. I’m also going to leave older posts on the blog, so that anyone can go and see the long and winding journey I’ve taken to get to this point. But from here on out, make sure you bookmark the blog if you want to know more about productivity, indie publishing, serialisation and storytelling….