In the wonderfully creative world of writers we are flooded with posts on writing tips, marketing strategies, balancing life with creativity, and nailing those word counts. The amount of positive encouragement is huge, and I’ve always loved the fact that this exists in the writing community. Our ability as writers to constantly offer that nudge of encouragement to another writer when things get tough is what makes the writing community such a personal one.
Normally, I’m one of those voices offering the gentle, “You can do this.” But today, I’m going to share a bit of harsh reality about being a writer–there will come a point, for every writer, whether they want to admit it or not, where you must seriously decide–do I quit?
And honey, I can’t answer that.
Not for you.
But for me?
My first book published in 2010. In the seven years since, I just typed “the end” on manuscript number eleven. Not quite two books a year, but still a decent amount considering during this same time frame:
- I’m blessed to work a full time job so I can write
- I have a hubby and two teen boys just a year or so away from graduation, who don’t mind the fact I bury my head in my keyboard for hours on end
- Mourned the death of my father, my father-in-law, four siblings, two dear friends, and my cherished Hellhound even as we celebrated what having them in our lives meant
- Endured being laid off from an 18 yr. job run and survived being unemployed for 8 months
- I’ve packed and unpacked a household five times
- Celebrated the joy and beauty as my sister-in-law was able to say “I do” to her wife, and again when my younger brother took the most beautiful woman as his darling new wife
- Watched my fantastically fabulous nieces get married and then start families of their own, while other brilliant nieces and nephews strolled bravely out in the world of adulting
- Stood next to strong, enduring women (related by blood and/or friendship) as their lives took a 180 and they freakin’ rocked it
- Dropped to my knees in thankfulness when my dearest hubby walked away from what could’ve been a much more tragic auto accident
- Joined three publishing houses who believed in my work enough to stand behind me
- Found the perfect furry duo to add to our family so the household ration of male to female would balance
- And my list can go on…it’s been a LONG seven years
So when I resurfaced out of my writing den last week, it hit me. I’m freakin’ exhausted. Not just the mental weariness of crafting another book, but the type of exhaustion that allows the tiniest cracks for doubts to slide in and set up shop.
Those doubts are cruel little shits. Their gleeful whispers that you’re wasting your time chasing these dreams like to join forces with familiar guilt that as you try and take time to write you’re not being a good wife/mother. When they cruise the Reality Bar and hook up with the raucous voices of the outside world, their drunken delight can be found in the deafening din of jeers that sound remarkably like “You’ll never be good enough.”
And suddenly that precious spirit of wonder that brought you to your first blank page and helped you follow that promise of “Story”, is stumbling back from doubt’s nasty shoves.
It will knock you to your ass. And the next move? Well, that’s the one you have to choose to make.
Sit there and let doubt reduce you to tears…
Get your feet, flip doubt a double bird, and say “F*ck you.”
I didn’t start writing because I was hoping to be rolling in green backs. I started writing because I couldn’t not write. There is a power in crafting a story, a freedom in creating characters who can kick ass no matter how many times the big bads knock them down, and where happy endings can exist, no matter how dark the path to it can get.
So while I’m exhausted and sporting a serious shiner or two, along with a boatload of aches, I can’t quit. I can balance the scales, but I can’t quit.
So, I’ve made some decisions to help me protect my creative spark.
First, once I send BEG FOR MERCY, the second of my latest series, into my editor (hopefully next weekend), I’m taking a writing break until August. I’m going to go enjoy my trip with my boys and make some serious memories to hold close.
That creative spark shouldn’t be stretched so thin as to be see-through, so to ensure a healthy sparkle, I’m going to cut back my blog posts to twice a month.
As for the marketing race, well, I’ve tried quite a few things, some work, some don’t. But the one thing I’m completely sure of: the only way to get readers is to produce good books. Which also means sticking to my writing schedule, IE six months for each book versus procrastinating then pushing it to four months.
It’s also time to take care of the one thing most writers forget–the writer. This means that the yoga routine that had been hit or miss, has to come back to a daily appearance. Taking the time to read just to read. And because I’ve got two boys who will soon be doing their own adulting thing, I want to make the most of the time I have left with them, which means adjusting the writing schedule to make sure I get those moments.
So, when this point hits you, and it will, remember why you picked up your pen in the first place and make sure you don’t forget to live your life for you.