Lessons Learned from Not Writing
I haven’t not been writing for more than a few days altogether in a long time. I just write like that — in bulk, pushing myself as far as I can go.
But now I’m not writing. In fact, I’m not doing a lot of the things I have always been pushing myself to do. It’s new, it’s different, but it’s good.
In this blog post, I’ll be exploring lessons learned from not writing and how they have affected my perspective on being an author entrepreneur.
First, let’s start with the obvious …
Why did I decide to try not writing?
I wasn’t feeling burnt out. Not any more than is normal, anyway. (I’m always semi-burnt-out. It’s my state of being.) Neither does my life-busyness keep me from writing altogether (though I am working a lot more than normal nowadays).
In August of this year, I enrolled in the Young Writer Workshop’s “Author” program. I’ve been working with Brett Harris and Kara Swanson to strengthen my goals and the steps I take to achieving those goals.
And what was the first thing they told me on our introductory video call?
“You have spread yourself way too thin, and you are trying to do way too much at the same time.”
They told me to cut down.
To choose one or two things to focus on.
Specifically, they asked me to list everything I was doing or trying to do — and cut it down to basically nothing.
I prioritized things that were important. This means no working on random projects. No accepting new commitments.
This was my basic list of things that I would not be doing anymore, including steps to implement those changes:
Added to that were any offers to beta-read, join blog tours, accept ARCs, etc. I just told myself I couldn’t. And I didn’t.
A note on that
A couple things, like Reveries Co., I’m still keeping running. Thankfully, I have my co-manager and the most amazing person in the world, Angela R. Watts, keeping it all going.
But I also trained two blog tour hosts (Abigail Harris and Michaela Bush) to help out so I wouldn’t go crazy with commitments. That has been amazing so far!
We’ve also being trying to implement some steps to make the process flow a bit more smoothly.
What was I doing?
This is my list of priorities.
So basically, Instagram, my email list, and The Dressmaker’s Secret.
Simple enough. Stick to those three.
And though I haven’t succeeded in that all the time (it took me a while to learn to tuck away all my other stories!), as my mom says, “You’re not telling me you’re dying of stress all the time now.”
But if you were working on TDS, you were writing, right?
Well, there is too much to explain, but to sum up
(see what I did there?), I got The Dressmaker’s Secret to its editor in early/mid September, and then there was nothing.
I outlined some. That was okay before it was more of a leisure time activity than a work one for me. But otherwise, until October 10th, I didn’t have anything to do.
When I got the edits, I went through them in three days, did a quick read-over for anything I missed, formatted it, and ordered a proof a couple weeks ago.
Then I just had to wait for the proof copy to arrive and concentrate on marketing the ARC signups and other prep.
So lots of non-writing stuff.
And it is great!
At first, I felt lost. I felt more stressed while not writing (and doing all those other things) than I did when I was stressing myself out doing it.
But then I realized all the other things I could do. I could get up from my writing spot without feeling guilty—but when I was at work, I could really get a lot done for the upcoming publication, for blog tours, and for my social media.
I’ve even found more time for reading!
It’s also improved my perspective on writing.
I’ve slowed down and thought more about my goals, about how I want to write, etc., and I’ve realized a few things …
Like what quality in writing really is. What kinds of books I want to write. How I want to reach people. Why marketing matters. How to combine my various passions without cheapening any of them.
Slowing down is always a good idea, and it’s really helped me focus on what I need to focus on. I still have a long way to go, but I’m excited for that journey!
So do I recommend not writing?
Yes, I think I do!
Not at the start of your career, probably, but when you have a thousand other things going on, doing less is almost always more.
We authors are always encouraged to push, push, push. But quality means more than quantity every time, especially if our quantity means quality is pushed out the window and nothing gets done!
Until next time …
Have you ever taken a major break from writing? Or simply focused in on a couple things to improve quality? How did it go?
Are you doing NaNo? What are you writing? It starts next Friday … wow! I can’t wait!
Really like this post! I think not writing is not a problem for me, since I can be… unmotivated, lol. But this is great advice anyhow. I’m used to working through one project at a time, which makes me more excited about the next one when it comes; I also have a schedule of writing one month and resting/editing the next (though unfortunately, my next break doesn’t come until December ??). Plus there’s the terrifying force of high school…
NaNo is gonna be crazy ?
Ooh, that’s good! Schedules are exciting. (Says the girl who never sticks to her schedules … but I do try! Really! 😛 ) YES! I remember the terrifying force of high school well. Evilnesss … 😛
This post was much needed today. I’ve been thinking about all the things I’ve tried to do in the past (mostly with writing and blogging) and I feel like once I pile so much into my plate, I just get way too overwhelmed and do NONE of it. It’s a horrible habit and one that I seriously want to break. So if you don’t mind, I think I’ll be stealing that idea of listing out ALL OF THE THINGS and then cutting it all back to basically nothing. It sounds gloriously wonderful, and I want to see what happens… ?
Also!! I love the idea of not writing. So many times I’ve found myself finishing a project, only to start outlining or writing a BRAND NEW PROJECT immediately after. There needs to be time for a break, and I never give myself that… (Although, admittedly, I’ve taken a healthy little break from writing right before NaNo hits, so maybe I’m learning from my past mistakes finally??? ?)
This was a lovely post, Kellyn!!! And congratulations on TDS!!!
YES! Absolutely do that! It is very freeing, and it was a huge help to me, so I want other people to do it if they’re at all able! Just do less … it really is more in the end. 😛
Exactly – I tend to start one project (or two or three) as soon as I finished another one, and I seldom have time to mentally catch up!
Congratulations Kellyn on TDS. I do not write but I know what you mean concerning doing too much. I am trying to cut down on my time on the computer. I spend way too much time on the computer. I am trying to limit my hours. Thank You for this helpful post.
For sure! I think that cutting down on things often increases the quality of what we try to do in all areas of life. 🙂