Wow. I can’t believe I’m finally able to write this post. It seems like just yesterday I made the decision to “take a break” for the holidays, but seven months have gone by since. A lot has happened in that time. My husband and I found out we were pregnant with our second child (due September), I had pneumonia for two months and colds for the next two, Christmas came and went, we threw a giant birthday party for our four year old, and so much more. To be honest, the weight and pure exhaustion of one thing after another put my work on the back burner. And the days just kept slipping by.
But the sabbatical is over and now that I’m back to work (hopefully for good), there are going to be some changes I need to incorporate to avoid another “back burner” situation.
Setting Up a Work Schedule
Last year (and every year before), I’ve used every free second I could to dive right into work. Whether it was pure writing, revisions, edits, helping another author with a beta read, blogging (the list could go on), there was always something I just had to get done. I’d take the three hours my son was gone to school twice a week to work without exercising, showering, eating…you get the idea. After dinner we’d take my son to the park and I brought my laptop with me.
You see, I’m one of those people who always felt good being productive. The more I accomplished in any given day, the better my day. If I did nothing all day, I felt guilty and useless and would convince myself I had to make it up the next day. There was no balance. Working became my obsession.
But filling those free seconds with work as much as I could? Not healthy. Not for me, not for my family, and not for my work. I ran myself into the ground just to get another blog post published that could’ve waited for the next day.
So now I have a work schedule and I’m sticking to it. My husband and I have discussed it and we both agreed. I will work three days a week a couple hours a day and that’s it. The schedule may change down the road, considering my work load or I may even cut back depending on our lives at the time, but I will not be thinking about work or even checking email outside of those hours.
Living the Minimalist Life: Digitally
One of the biggest stresses I’ve experienced in this career choice is connecting with my readers. I know you’re out there, I know you’re receiving my newsletters and reading my blog posts, catching up with me on social media. I can see all of that through analytics and I love it. I love connecting with you, sending you free stuff, and getting to hear what you think of my books. It makes me happy (most days).
However, there’s a downside to putting all that time into crafting the perfect newsletter every single month, making sure I’m blogging once a week, or “liking” that post on Facebook or Twitter.
It’s exhausting. And, honestly, it doesn’t leave much time for anything else, let alone writing books.
No, I’m not getting rid of these things entirely. I’m just cutting back. Significantly.
Do you receive my newsletter? Now you’ll only get it when I have book/event news. Do you read my blog? Same thing. And social media? I’m limiting myself to once in the morning and once in the evening to keep in touch.
I’m expecting this to free up more time for my priorities: writing and publishing more books (+ family), but also to clear some headspace. Before now, I studied every blog and website I could to make mine perfect, I took courses on launching new products, and put so much energy into things that didn’t matter. In the end, I felt like I was stuck in this giant romance publishing sandbox where I couldn’t move one way or another.
Focus on My Own S***
I have this problem. It tends to make me a bit crazy. I look out into the world, specifically at what my favorite romance authors are doing, and think to myself, “I can do that,” or “I should do that,” or even, “If they can do it with young kids at home, so can I.”
I used to call it research. I’d study how many books a year these authors would put out a year, what they were writing, how they promoted themselves, and would pick apart their books to see what readers loved about them. It’s gotten me in trouble a few times and by that I mean it leads to burnout. I can’t keep up. And this “research” becomes obsessive. So much to the point, I stop focusing on what I should be writing, what I should be doing with my own business, and I actually start resenting my work.
This time around, I’m making a change.
Sure, I can keep reading my favorite authors. I’ve got to support the team, right? But that’s going to be it. No more analysis. No more envying. No more trying to push myself over the edge trying to keep up with the Jones’s of the romance community. I’ve got my own deals going on (news coming soon!) and my own s*** to write.
Me and my favorite authors? We’re not the same. We have our own lives, with our own kids of varying ages, in our own place in the writing world. They have agents (most of them anyway), I don’t and it’s all good. We’re at different seasons in our lives. I can’t expect my career is going to turn out the same as theirs if I publish ten books a year. I don’t even have that many books planned.
And I’ve come to terms with that. They’re not me. I’m not them. We’re all just doing our best to succeed.
I’m happy to be back at work. It feels good. It feels right. Over the last seven months I’ve had nothing but dread in my stomach when I open up my laptop, but that feeling has dissolved as of right now. And the next time you hear from me, I’ll be announcing an awesome book deal! Stay tuned.