Dear Reader, I quit.
Is Mercury in retrograde or something? Because I feel like I’ve yet to get my balance at the start of this new year. I finished 2019 as strong as ever, and then it was as though my brain shut down. Only problem was, I still had deadlines.
I wouldn’t compare it to burnout, at least, not in the form I’ve experienced before, but more like a feeling of not knowing where my career was going next. And, as the highest form of Achiever, not having a major goal to work toward or a vision of where I’m going is the equivalent of losing my identity/significance.
2019 brought me a lot of “firsts”, which forced me through a career growth I absolutely needed.
I wrote my very first 90,000-word stand-alone romantic suspense, which was a huge change from my 55,000-word Intrigues, an accomplishment I’m super proud of, and I believe it’s one of the best stories I’ve ever written (in my opinion). And I was invited to write in the very first launch of Intrigue’s continuity series, Tactical Crime Division where I was given a plot to write and had to stick to it.
I saw such a huge change in my confidence when I was writing those stories. I knew they were going to alter the course of my career. With those projects, I believed I could do anything, then 2020 hit, and I had no idea what to do next. Well, kind of.
To be honest, I do know what where my career needs to go (and it isn’t increasing my average daily word count as I’d planned). I just thought it would be a bigger “aha” moment, but this episode of the Goaldigger podcast really helped me dig deeper into why I’ve gotten lost along the way. Oh, along with complaining to my author friends a whole lot. There is a lot of comfort in not taking risks and avoiding failure over and over again, but as the quote says,
“Growth doesn’t happen inside comfort zones.”
I’m not ready to get into exactly what this growth will look like for me until I’m done with the proposal mid-summer (deadlines are keeping me from attacking it now), but know that I’m not done writing romantic suspense. I love writing for Intrigue, and I’m going to keep doing it as much as they’ll let me, and I’ll still be self-publishing here and there as well as long as my schedule permits.
But it’s time for a change of pace and a new challenge, and for the first time in probably six months, I have more passion and direction than ever before.
Now, as for the “I quit” in the greeting of this reader letter, there are a few things I’m quitting this year:
- Being connected to social media all day. I spend a ridiculous amount of time (wasted time), mindlessly scrolling Facebook and Instagram throughout the day, even when I’m supposed to be working! So I made the conscious decision to remove the apps from my phone and only have access to social media on my laptop after I’ve made my word count for the day. Since starting this in December, I’ve increased my productivity significantly (i.e. word count) and don’t have to work at night as often to make up for lost time.
- Being glued to my laptop. Over the past couple of years, I’ve somehow trained myself to only work at my desk with my laptop and headphones. Then I saw romance author Lyra Parish (Kennedy Fox duo) using her 30-minute lunch breaks to write an additional chapter of her book per week! That inspired me to do the same while waiting for my son at school pickup. So I dusted off my smart keyboard, attached it to my iPad, and got to work. In the first week alone, I was able to get 2,148 words I wouldn’t have otherwise.
- Email. Along the same lines as checking social media, I’m addicted to my email. I don’t want to miss anything, especially if it’s from my agent (which has definitely happened before). So I went through every app on my phone, starting with email, and turned off all notifications. I’m checking it once in the morning, and that’s it! So much brain space and time opening up here. If you’ve emailed me and I haven’t answered (I’ve already gotten a few emails from readers about this), I promise I will be writing back. Just not right away.
- Eating out. I’m bad at this. After hearing badass business babe Jenna Kutcher go over ways to free up time and save energy in her business, I decided me making dinner every night for the family couldn’t happen anymore. Energy had to be saved for writing and mothering. ***a whole heck of a lot of money later, and oh, a few pounds*** I found an alternative, more healthy solution that still saves me mental energy, frustration and guess work, and time. CookSmarts. Every week, my entire menu is emailed to me so I don’t have to sit down and plan every detail. They’ve done it for me. All I have to do is check off ingredients I already have and head to the store once a week for everything else. And if I don’t like a meal, I can switch it out with a recipe in their archives. Super easy.
- Trying to keep up with the Jones’s. Lastly, here’s where I tell you I originally had 6 books scheduled to release this year and now there’s only going to be 5. Why? Well, because I am going to three different conferences this year, I’m taking on a new project (noted above), and because I don’t want to set an expectation for readers to see 6 books from me every year, especially if this new project is the direction my career starts to take and that number drops to 3-4 books a year. Also, I’m tired of running off of deadline fumes. So as of right now, every book releasing this year is set in stone, edited, scheduled, and ready for release. Adding more to my plate at this point will take time and energy I just can’t spare at the moment.
What I’m Working On:
I’m currently wrapping up the draft of The Marshal’s Witness, the second book in my new series with Intrigue, Marshal Law. The four-book series starts debuting with The Marshal’s Fugitive in January 2021 (title likely to change) with the next two books being rapidly released in February and March.
Surprisingly, this book hasn’t fought me much in the way the first in the series did. While it’s slow going due to the emotional depth I’m exploring, there’s something fresh and compelling about my hero and heroine that’s making this draft an enjoyable experience, and I’ve got to soak it all up while it lasts.
Oh, and there’s a serial killer. I LOVE writing serial killers.
Thanks for making it all the way to the bottom of this thing. In closing, I’ll leave you with the quote that’s keeping my head on straight right now, and wish you a fantastic March:
“No risk. No magic.”
Here’s to falling in love while the bullets are flying!