During a guest appearance on Conan, one of the most prolific authors of our time shocked the world by announcing that he writes all of his work on software that was outdated before many of his readers were even born. Working on a DOS computer, Martin writes his epic fantasy novels on WordStar 4.0, a word processer designed back in 1978 when the average household computer measured RAM in kilobytes and was the size of a small room. With so many modern tools and machines available to facilitate every part of writing a novel, from research to outlining to formatting, why would the author of such giant epics stick so religiously to a completely outdated system?
The answer, as it turns out, is both surprising, and a lesson for writers and independent business owners alike. George R. R. Martin sticks to WordStar 4.0 because it does exactly what he needs it to do, and nothing more. Spellcheck, he explains, is a nuisance; auto-formatting is a distraction. George R. R. Martin is a writer, first and foremost, so he uses a tool that allows him to write. When you think about it, it is stunningly simple logic: anyone who has spent an hour tinkering with the settings on their word processor before actually sitting down to write their business plan knows exactly how counterproductive the tools designed to help you can actually be.
When you first start out in an online business, the wealth of tools available to get you going is completely overwhelming, and one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your early stages is to try too much too quickly. Tools and resources that promise to do everything from format your website to teach you the secrets of the universe are distractions from what you really need to do: build a skillset that allows you to do what you do best in a way that makes you money. A business built on designing squeeze pages for affiliate marketing doesn’t need the fancy flash animations and exotic title fonts an expensive web design service might give you, but an affiliate marketer who knows the basics of coding and designing an attractive, effective web page can repeat one page’s success over and over again with HTML simple enough to write in Microsoft Word. The really successful online business owners know this, and you can see it in their training tools: once you find the system that works for you, additional bells and whistles are just distractions from achieving your success. Keep your methods simple and repeatable, and your business will thrive.
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