Vocabulary Word of the Day: Bifurcation

Some words are specific to a certain field of endeavor and some are flexible, used to describe something in a variety of arenas. One such word is our vocabulary word of the day: bifurcation.

Simply, it involves splitting something into two distinct parts. The prefix “bi” indicates two, so it is simple to remember the number of parts involved.

It is used in general science, medicine, law, mathematics and now, publishing.

Professional writers experience bifurcation when they work on one project for enjoyment and one project to make money. They might write poetry for their personal illumination and an article on road repair progress for the local news service, to pay their bills.

Many writers have diverse lives, working a day job and writing before and after wearing their literary “hat.” They experience bifurcation every day of their lives.

The successful writing of books however, requires an author focus on one thing, the successful publication of a book. This effort is not split into parts, writing and platform development, but one coordinated effort aimed at a goal.

Much as authors want to think writing and platform are separate and distinct, they are really part of the same effort. Your platform influences writing, your writing influences your platform.

Viewing them as separate and distinct places the Christian author in the conflicted position of judging one to be sacred and the other secular, the same type of conflict a pastor experiences between worship service preparation and church budget management.

The writer and pastor quickly learn both aspects of their work are important.

Authors can even experience a dangerous form of bifurcation when they consider writing as important, but platform as a necessary evil. One deserves your undivided focus and the other is done while holding your nose.

This never works out well.

Many times new authors will ask me for a checklist of what they should do to get started in professional writing. I’ll usually suggest something as simple as “Go to a writer’s conference.”

What they don’t realize is this recommendation is actually saying, “Go get a drink from a fire hose.”

If someone persists desiring an ordered checklist, I will usually make the comparison of an aspiring professional writer starting a small business, which is exactly what you are doing.

Anyone starting a small business knows even though you would prefer to be back in the kitchen making your special recipe cupcakes, you will need to become very familiar with all the issues of business law, government forms, taxation, health department requirements, commercial real estate, employment statutes, accounting, refrigeration units, roof repair, inventory management, and about forty other areas you might not have even thought about yet.

As a small business owner, what’s the first thing you do, other than pray for wisdom every day?


In the course of a day, you spend at least some time on just about everything.

Self-employed professional writing is like this. At some point you will not only need to do actual writing, but also continually learn more about professional writing standards, develop a platform, do some accounting, project management, social media trend study, computer management and roof repair, especially if you live and work in an older home! (Even if you have a full time job writing or editing, the addition of a freelance element requires you learn all about the above list for the part of your life not covered by an employer.)

The writer’s life could never be described as simple, easy, controlled, and predictable.

Certainly there is no bifurcation with the successful professional writer. No sacred versus secular. It is all one singular effort. The quicker the author accepts this reality, the sooner they can begin to realize their calling.


Leave a Comment

Intangible Conference Benefits

Recently I blogged about whether or not authors make money by attending conferences. While that’s not always easy to determine through cold, hard math, what you can calculate, though in a more fuzzy way, are intangible benefits: Connecting with Internet friends in person. Meeting authors previously unknown to you. Sharing …

Read More

Five Lessons from the Road to Publication

Our guest post is by Ginny L. Yttrup who is the award-winning author of five novels including her latest, Home, which released earlier this month. She writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys exploring the issues everyday women face. “Publishers Weekly” dubbed Ginny’s work “as inspiring as it is entertaining.” When not …

Read More

Where Do You Find New Clients?

“As an agent, what percentage of your new clients come from meetings at conferences vs. general email or postal proposals? Can you address the importance of conferences?” Thanks to Scott for the question. It is a good one. Another way to frame it is “Where do you find new clients? …

Read More