Do Less, Achieve More

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of positive activity regarding my latest book, my memoir of the writing life, Perpetuating Trouble.

But what makes this activity particularly pleasant for me is this: it came about more or less spontaneously, without my having to do much of anything.

In fact, you could say that lately I’ve been doing less and achieving more.

First, Kirkus Reviews gave the book a stellar review. I had submitted the book to them back in October of last year and forgotten all about it. Then, one evening I was in my local grocery store, Marona’s, and the new owner came over, shook my hand, and gushed about how he had recently bought all my books and how much he loved them. A few weeks later, I received an email from a fan who congratulated me on an article about Perpetuating Trouble that he’d read in the Poughkeepsie Journal; I had no idea what article he was talking about; I’d missed it completely. Then Kirkus Reviews contacted me again, saying that the review of Perpetuating Trouble had been chosen for inclusion in their printed catalog that is sent to booksellers and libraries (a very small percentage of books get chosen for this).

Angels Do Exist

A couple weeks ago, my former book layout person, Lisa DeSpain, contacted me with an opportunity: for the past year she’s been building her new business,, which focuses on the things about this business that drive me crazy—the promotion of authors, marketing their books, and working with social media to expand an author’s platform and readership.

Lisa had read the blog piece I wrote a year ago, which was effectively an online classified ad for what I termed a “21st Century Author Promoter,” or what I consider the modern equivalent of a literary agent. She’d read the blog piece and said that she thought she could help me. Of course I said yes, and this blog piece represents the start of our new professional collaboration.

So I Tossed the Universe the Keys

But—and here is the point of this blog entry—I’m convinced that none of the above positive developments would have occurred had I not let go at the start of the New Year. I surrendered, saying to the universe that I didn’t want to do the online or social media stuff anymore. I didn’t want to have to fight to get attention for my books. I wanted someone—a knowledgeable, honest, savvy, helpful person—to simply handle all of this stuff for me.

And here’s the most important part of my letting go: I accepted the idea that my books becoming bestsellers and my building a vast readership just might not be in the cards for me. I basically said to the universe,

“Look…I’m tired. I’m done trying to do things my way. You need to handle it now, and whatever level of success you want to bring me is fine. I’m going to refocus on writing the books, using the low-tech process that gives me joy and comfort. I’m trusting YOU to drive this train from now on. Adios, amigo.”

Now, I’d “surrendered” or let go many times in the past, but it was always with a soupçon of resentment that I was having to do it in the first place. I felt like Life had simply worn me down and that I was being forced to do it. However, I realize now that that wasn’t letting go at all; it was giving up. The difference this time was, I didn’t let go from a place of resentment; I let go with a feeling that maybe the universe knows better than I do what is best for me and how I can most easily get it.

How I Finally Let Go

On January 1 of this year, I decided I wanted to get back to my low-tech writing process (a process I will describe in detail in the coming weeks). I was exhausted with the internet and social media, and the constant angst they created in me: this sense that there was always something else I could and should be doing to promote my books and myself as an author.

I had recently reread a book entitled Do Less, Achieve More, in which the author talks about how important the act of surrender is, and how, if you truly surrender to your circumstances and stop fighting the same battles, the universe will go to work for you to effortlessly bring about your desires. But you have to let go; you have to truly release your worries and trust that, somehow and on its own timetable, the universe will orchestrate events to bring about your desires.

(By the way, this is a great book, and while I’ve read it at least once a year for the decade I’ve owned it, only this year did I fully grasp what it meant to surrender, and only this year was I willing to hand over the keys of my professional life to the universe.)

Within days of my truly letting go, all of the positive developments regarding Perpetuating Trouble that I detailed at the start of this piece began to happen. And here’s the thing: I know that those are just a taste of the good things yet to come.

I’m excited about my collaboration with Lisa and her company because working with her means that I’ll be able to focus on the part of this whole “author” endeavor that gives me joy: the writing. Lisa’s handling of marketing and promotion, the internet and social media, means that all I have to do is write. Some of this writing will be in the form of more frequent blog posts, like this one, but the way I’m choosing to look at this work is, it’s still writing, and even if they’re “just” blog posts, I can get joy from making them the best written blog posts they can be.

Come Back Soon

I encourage you to come back more often now, because there’s going to be some killer content on here weekly. Soon I will be offering, as a FREE download, A Study in Crimson, the Dakota and Svetlana “origin story”; it will only be available on my website, and it will only be available to readers who subscribe to my newsletter.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ll be revealing my low-tech writing process in detail and how it might work for some of my fellow authors or aspiring writers. There will be blog pieces about the backstories of each of my eight books—events and people and places that inspired me, where I got the ideas, and more. Some of my fictional characters will appear on the site as guest bloggers. I will reveal some of my knowledge about writing, and writing fiction in particular—knowledge gained by hard experience over 25 years of writing professionally. And subscribers to my new newsletter will receive private, “behind the scenes” peeks into my workspaces, my bedside books, and glimpses of what I’m working on now.

I hope to see you back here again next week, and, as always, if you read one of my books and enjoyed it, I’d love to hear from you.


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By Chris Orcutt

Writer — The Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, Short fiction, Plays — Editor & Speechwriter for Hire — Avid Golfer, Chess Player & Awesome Wood-Splitter — Twitter: @chrisorcutt

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