Good Morning. Last Monday I touched on what we Should and Should Not do as writer/authors. Of course, that list is free to interpret any way you wish. I just wish "they" would stop hammering it down our throats. Perhaps if they made them "suggestions" it might be a little easier to swallow.
Anyhow, for the last couple of years, everyone has agreed on this one essential issue where writing is concerned. Something that we all SHOULD do. Write the next book.
I can remember being in query hell, and the resounding response to my "What do I do while I wait for responses to come back?" was write the next book. You need another in the coffer if the agent makes a request. And if not, you'll have another to query when you give up the first one. Write the next book.
Putting a book up on Amazon and debating whether to promote or not, and the resounding response was write the next book. This is a long tail enterprise, and the more books you have out, more readers will find you. Promotion can wait until book four or five. And besides, blog tours don't work. Neither does a Twitter campaign. Just write the next book.
Trying to play the Amazon game, and the resounding response was write the next book. Don't worry about getting reviews, bad reviews, no reviews, whether KDP Select "free" works or not. It's a game, and the only rule is to get the next book out there. The more you have, the better off you'll be. Write the next book.
Okay, so here I sit, after 18 months, with 4 novels and 4 novellas (published) under my belt, with another novel ready to fire up in the next week or so, and what should I do? Why, write the next book, of course.
But you know what, I'm tired of writing. I'm tired of figuring out plot points and inciting incidents and figuring out how to make my heroine less irritable. What I really need is a vacation. A nice long vacation with beach sand in my Virgin Mary, and sun burn on my nose.
But then I think how my books will suffer if I don't write the next one. My readers will be heart broken and leave me if I don't cough up another "something" within 2 months. My sales will plummet to nothing, I'll lose my ranking, my audience, my shot at being #19 again on the New Releases Best Seller List. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there in publishing land, and if you're not top dog, or even mid-list dog, you're nothing.
And then I think I'll lose my mind if I have to sit at the damned computer staring at a blinking curser for days on end wondering how to write when I really don't want to.
We've all heard how we SHOULD write every day. How we SHOULD churn out something, even if it's 500 words of crap. How we SHOULD keep notebooks in the car, by the bed, in the bathroom when inspiration hits.
Yeah, okay, I was on this kick for awhile too. Writing, writing, writing. Letting the house get so bad I could have been a candidate for Hoarders. (Okay, maybe not that bad, but you get the idea. The dust bunnies even packed up once and left.) Ignoring the phone, my mother, my daughter, all for the sake of the next book. I've forgotten how to live in the real world because I've spent so much time with my characters.
And that's just not right. The guilt I have because I'm not sure what to do. I feel guilty if I spend time with my daughter and not writing. And I feel guilty I'm writing and not spending time with my daughter. Or cleaning the house, or mowing the lawn, or for God's sake, just doing laundry and keeping the dishes up.
Until I read one of those posts I mentioned earlier. And this guy, Bob, is his name, said, "You need to detox every once in awhile. You need to take a break to replenish your imagination." (paraphrasing here)
And I KNOW this. I take breaks off the blogs. But this guy was talking about something more. Just walking away from it all -- blogging, social media, writing, marketing, all of it. Just walking away for a good long while, or until the next big idea hits and you can't wait to get back to the keyboard. That, he said, was the key. WANTING to write. (And he's got 50 books under his belt, so he should know what he's talking about.) Writing because you WANT to, not because you SHOULD.
And that, I think, is where I am now. I need a writing break. Detox, if you will. Oh, I'll still blog, for the time being. But I'm not writing. I can't. And why churn out shit, when I know I'll just scrap it all anyway. That, my friends, is an exercise in futility. If I can't write 1000 words of something half-way decent, then why bother.
Tell me -- Do you ever willingly detox? Does it replenish your imagination? Or do you keep working away because you think you SHOULD?
Anne Gallagher (c) 2013