Hello friends and welcome to another winter blasted week of writing.
Well, it finally happened. After 28 straight days, I (unintentionally) broke my blog streak. I mean, I feel like I had an okay reason. I caught my daughter’s cold and was almost completely incapacitated with a headache that would not go away even with jamming extra strength Motrin down my throat, but I can’t help but feel a little bit disappointed that I didn’t open my computer once and put together what is, after all, the easiest blog I do every week: the Weekly Writing Roundup.
(Holy run on sentence Batman.)
That disappointment, coupled with the lingering headache, terrible battle with insomnia (partially thanks to said headache, running on 90 minutes of sleep rip), a winter storm that has put my entire metro area on edge, and just some general malaise has me really having to willpower my way back into a routine. Sure, it would be nice to call it a self-care day and leave it at that, but I’m already at work anyway so I may as well take advantage of what time I have available to get myself back in the swing of things.
So, while it’s a bummer that my blog streak came to an end, I’m not going to let it ruin the momentum I built in those four weeks. I’m gonna keep it rolling. And that’s my motivation this week.
Hello friends and welcome to another less-than-ideal edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
Friends, I don’t know if you have noticed, but I am not a perfect writer. Brave of me to reveal this publicly, I know, but I must speak my truth as I live it. Yes, its true, there are times when I find it difficult to sit down and write. Unfortunately for me, one of those situations is literally any time I am in my house.
Home Is Where The Black Hole of Motivation Is
I have a moderately stressful day job. I prefer not to get into the details, but it requires more emotional labor than the average profession. Though I love what I do, it is often a strain on my mental resources. My job is part of the reason why I absolutely have to have time every day to decompress and destress from work.
This has ultimately led to the deeply engrained mindset that my home is the place I go to not work. When I get home after a long day at my day job, plus extra curricular activities, oh and don’t forget dinner, dishes, laundry, and cleaning up that thing my dog just shredded, sitting down in my recliner, even if my laptop is right there next to me, my brain automatically switches into leisure mode. Its almost Pavlovian at this point.
However, as we all know, writing is also work. It requires mental energy, focus, and stamina — things that tend to be in short supply after, well, *gestures above* Not writing when I get home isn’t even necessarily about the myriad distractions at my disposal (although they certainly play a part), its about breaking out of the mental feedback loop of home = not work.
I’ve tried a couple of different ways to fix this. I’ve tried writing in the mornings before work (a Herculean effort for a lifelong night owl), I’ve tried carving out a space to treat as a home office (which was just a nook in my bedroom, and you can see how that would cause motivation issues), I’ve tried Pomodoros (“I’ll just work for twenty minute and then get a little five minute break for video games as a treat”).
You might be wondering to yourself, if I struggle so much to write at home how in the hell do I get any writing done at all?
Well. Truth be told, about 80% of the writing I do, blogs and drabbles included, I do at work.
Kerry, you might be saying to yourself, what??
Its true. I use the creases in my work day to write. I bring my notebook with me and leave it open on the desk next to me. When I have a few moments, I jot down a sentence or two. When I have dedicated breaks, I drabble or blog. My lunch is spent with the WordPress app open on my phone. During the commute, I’ll talk to text ideas to myself. Because I find it so difficult to write at home, I have found ways to sneak in creativity throughout my day.
This extends not just to work, however. My favorite place to write is my daughter’s gymnastics practice. I get one hour uninterrupted, with the only distraction the occasional outbreak of applause when a gymnast sticks a landing. I’ve also started working at my other daughter’s guitar lesson. I’ve even brought my notebook along to my son’s allergy shots, because we are required to wait half an hour afterward before we can leave.
Anywhere I have a few minutes, I use it. As long as I’m not at home.
If that seems not ideal to you, well, you’d be right, its not. Because, while my method works to an extent, if I find myself at home unexpectedly for any reason (like today, home with a sick kid), every last iota of production goes right in the toilet. I have to make a concerted effort to do even the bare minimum *coughlikethisblogcough* Weekends, what should be my peak writing days, are, you know, not. Bank holidays? Don’t get me started.
Druthers, Druthers Everywhere
It seems to me that in a perfect world, I would find a place I could go after my kids went to bed where I could put my earbuds in and just buckle down and write. There’s a library literally right across the street from where I live, but they close at eight. There’s a Starbucks down the street, but that closes even earlier. Deep in suburbia, it seems that there is just no good place for a writer who prefers to work in a public environment late at night.
However, part of me knows that even if such a place did exist within a reasonable distance from my home I wouldn’t actually utilize it. Because once I get home, once I sit down… its all over man.
So, what I actually need to do is just get over myself and do the work, even if there’s a basketball game on. Even if the latest Final Fantasy XIV patch just released. Even if Twitter has some amazing discourse I want to watch go down. I don’t need to push myself past my limits, of course, that’s a short road to potentially long term burnout. But, on days — like today — where I’m just sitting at home anyway, I need resist the urge to take a second nap, to open my Steam library, to make excuses not to write.
I don’t think it’ll be easy. Changing something so deeply engrained never is. But, earlier today I was standing at my sink doing some dishes and thinking about how much of a bummer it would be to let my 25-day blogging streak come to an end just because of a stupid habit of needing to preserve my home as a non-working space. So, as soon as I finished up, I walked to my computer, and I opened WordPress.
The desire to keep the chain going was enough to kick my ass into gear.
Now, if I can just start a chain for writing 3 pages a day, regardless of where I’m at, I might actually be a little less of a struggling writer.
That’s all from me this time. I’ll be home again tomorrow it looks like, so if I can keep the streak going despite the significant disruption to my routine, I’ll allow myself a little pride. See you then!
Hello friends and welcome to another mental-health adjacent edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
Friends, I have enjoyed a pretty darn good week. I’ve gotten a shit ton of writing done, I’ve kept up my daily blogging habit, and I’ve managed to explore new ways to continue growing as a writer and content creator. I’ve also done some things offline that have really inspired me and boosted my confidence level.
Basically, I’m thriving.
But, there is one area of my writing life that is still lacking. I’ve been paying lip service to the idea of improving this area, but I was never in the right mental space to actually take it on, whether I liked to admit it or not. However, now that I’m feeling much stronger mentally and I’ve seen the kind of progress I am capable of when the stars align like they have the past few weeks, I feel like its time to finally tackle the issue head on.
Friends, I don’t really have many friends.
Okay, let me start off by saying first that this isn’t a pity party I’m throwing here. This isn’t a woe-is-me post, and I’m not looking for sympathy engagement. Seriously.
Writing, in and of itself, can feel like a lonely endeavor. Unless you have a co-author, so much of the labor is done within the confines of your own head. To pare down from distractions while hard at work on writing, we often isolate ourselves, or seek solitude. And though we may share parts of our process or our stories with our friends or loved ones, ultimate it’s up to us to do complete the job.
In that regard, being a shy writer doesn’t seem like such a raw deal. You mean I get to do the thing I love AND I don’t have to deal with people? Sign me up!
And that works out well until you need someone to vent to about learning that this already published book used the idea you’d been writing about. Or when it’s time to find beta readers. Or when you’re looking for comps. Or when you could really use an accountability partner to make sure you stay on top of your writing goals. That’s when the reality sets in that writing isn’t such a solo venture after all.
Shy, Anxious, and Private – A Lonely Combination
The internet is a great resource for writers. There are blogs and podcasts and websites galore dedicated to every aspect of writing one can imagine. From traditional publishing to indie, all manner of genre, refining your query, best ways to market yourself… All of it you can find somewhere online. That’s the really beautiful thing about the writing community – the majority of it is there to help one another.
However, for someone just starting out, who has a hard time making new friends and feels super anxious even when people try to engage one-on-one, the #WritingCommunity presents a unique challenge. And, thus far, it has been a challenge I was not quite up for. Though there were times when people reached out to me and commented on my work, I rarely knew what to say in response or how to keep the conversation going. And thus those opportunities to make new friends were lost.
Opening up to people just isn’t easy for me. I often stumble over responses, because I am anxious they don’t care about what I have to say. I withhold information because I tend to be intensely private. And I struggle to continuously engage with people I want to be my friend because I am shy. (So, if you’re one of those people who have tried to talk to me only to receive silence – it’s me, not you. I want to get to know you, I just don’t know how.)
We Neither of Us Perform To Strangers
There’s a scene in Pride and Prejudice wherein Elizabeth and Darcy are talking about their first encounter at Netherfield. Darcy comments on his past behavior that he is ill qualified to introduce himself to others, and Elizabeth counters that she is not as skilled at playing the pianoforte as some other ladies because she does not take the time to practice.
Social skills, like any other kind of skill, requires practice in order to master. Up ‘til now, I’ve been afraid to practice because I didn’t want to appear (or feel) foolish. But, I feel like I’m reaching a turning point where the ratio of fear to loneliness is shifting toward loneliness. Or maybe the successes I’ve built over the last few weeks have simply started to replace the fear with confidence. Or maybe I’m just getting too old to be worried about that stuff. Or maybe my anxiety medicine is kicking in, I don’t know.
But I’m going to keep trying to put myself out there, no matter how hard breaking into the community might seem. I literally have nothing to lose.
Well, that’s all for me on this chilly, friendly Thursday. Until next time my dears, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.
Hello friends and welcome to another laidback edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
Friends, I am still in the throes of the New-Year mindset. Every morning when I wake up I think about all the things I want to accomplish for the day. Many of the tasks I put on my to do list are stepping stones along the path toward the larger goal, like writing 500-1000 words every day so I can finish Daughters of Necessity on schedule. That, in turn, feeds into the ultimate goal, which is, as I have said and will continue to repeat until it manifests, becoming a full time writer.
I feel like I’ve done pretty good so far this year (less than two weeks in, I know). I’ve blogged now for twelve days straight, I’ve written at least some words every day, and I’ve carved out time to read.
But there is still so much more I want to do. I want to rejuvenate my Patreon. I want to launch a Redbubble page. I want to dip my toes into podcasting (yes, still). I want to be active and friendly in the writing community. I want to return to freelance romance writing.
So much to do, yet so little time. Often times I find myself wistfully thinking that I’m not working hard enough. There are hours in my day when I can squeeze in more work. I see plenty of other people doing it. So why can’t I?
Everyday I’m Hustling
Well, here’s the thing. I recently had to take a break from freelancing because I was very seriously behind on a manuscript and just as seriously mentally blocked about it. Every time I opened the document to work on it, I would get so stressed out I could barely get a few sentences out before I was exhausted. My editor was great in allowing me to take time away and hopefully come back to it later, and since then I’ve been focusing on trying to enjoy my creative process again.
Part of the reason I fell behind, and the biggest reason why I was so damned stressed about it, was because there just wasn’t enough time over the course of the holiday season to give the piece any more than a cursory glance most days. Winter is my busy season at my day job, plus there were school functions for my kids, family in town, Christmas shopping to do, funky custody exchanges.
Most days by the time I got home I just wanted to relax. Watch a basketball game, or a true crime documentary. Take a bath or hit the sheets early. Then, I had to get up and do it all over again. On the days when I forced myself to use my evening hours to work, I was miserable in the days (yes, multiple) that followed. Without time to play video games or veg out, I became even more depressed than I usually get this time of year (thanks SAD).
I sometimes think this means I’m just a naturally lazy person. I’ve beaten myself up more times than I can count. Plenty of people in this industry are working a job (or more than one), going to school, raising a family, or any combination thereof and still find time to forge a successful writing career. So, then, I “reasoned,” what does it say about me that I can’t go a few nights a week without TV or video games or extra sleep?
Type What Personality?
Are you starting to see a pattern here? Far too often, I am holding myself up to someone else’s standard.
It occurred to me that maybe there are people out there, perhaps those I am trying to emulate, that get emotional satisfaction from always being on the go or juggling multiple projects. Maybe they go to bed after a long work day and look back on what they accomplished with joy. Maybe they can reward themselves with a bottle of champagne or a weekend away or a club night with friends, and that is enough to rejuvenate them to do it all again.
And if that is a personality type that some people are just born with, well… I’m one of them. I often want to be, but I’m just not. I’m not bored when I go home and have nothing to work on. I’m not stimulated by new challenges or changes to routine.
Does that make me lazy? I don’t know. I hope not. Does it mean I lack ambition? I don’t think so, I’ve got plenty of goals I want to meet. Does it mean I don’t have what it takes to be a writer? Certainly not.
I think what it really means is that if I stop trying to be someone I’m just not for a change, and actually accept that my own pace is what it is for a reason, then maybe I’ll actually start getting somewhere. I mean, who knows what I am capable if only I just start spending the mental energy I have been using to berate myself for not working hard enough instead on writing and creating and growing.
I want to find out, though. I want to find out what my real potential is, not just what I invented for myself based on a metric that is incompatible with who I am and who I am meant to be.
I am not broken after all.
Yall, I don’t think I can stress this enough, I am having fun writing again. I didn’t realize how much weight I had put on myself with the constant churn of deadlines and output, but I am really grateful that I have this opportunity to find my way again. I can’t wait to talk about craft again. Maybe next week. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.
Hello friends and welcome to the first 2023 edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
First of all, let me say it is good to be back after taking a much needed break for the holiday season. It’s been a rocky winter thus far to say the least, and I definitely needed to unload some things from my plate while I navigated the various stressors.
But, it’s a new year and regular readers and friends know that new beginnings are a source of creative energy for me, and even though these boosts tend not to last as long as I’d like, I’m still going to make the most of the moment while it lasts.
A Year In Review
At the start of 2022, I outlined 7 goals for myself ranging from the extremely basic to the ludicrous. They were, in order of importance:
Write 160,000 words for fantasy projects
Write 8 novellas for Scribd
Finish every book I started (no DNFs)
Read three books a month
Start selling my non-exclusive novellas
Dabble in podcasting
Release a serialized novel
Yeah, I managed to accomplish all of two of these (launching my Patreon to sell my novellas, and starting The Ballad of Mercy May as part of Drabble Rock).
I honestly have no idea how many words I wrote toward fantasy projects but my estimate is south of 30,000. I also did not even come close to my eight-novella goal for Scribd, though in fairness new editors and new pitching processes contributed to that. I came close to not DNFing anything – I only DNFed two books by my count and both of those I actually wanted to finish. However, I neglected to read them in a timely fashion, so they were returned to the library before I could. My bad.
As for reading three books a month – well, that was never going to happen. And podcasting was well and truly the most outrageous idea I’d had, so I’m not surprised nor even remotely disappointed that that didn’t occur.
All told, it wasn’t a tremendously productive year, but considering everything my family and I have been through over the last six months especially (not to mention the toll my mental health has taken), I’m going to take my two successes and run with them into 2023.
However, if you think I’ve learned from my mistakes of aiming well beyond my limits, you’re sorely mistaken, because I’ve got a whole new slate of ideas and goals to not meet by the end of the year! Dive in with me as I set myself up for failure yet again:
1. Blog Every Day
Alright, so this one seems a little crazy and maybe it is, but I’ve actually been building up toward this goal for the last several weeks, even months (aside from this December hiatus that is). And the word blog might be a little broad; many posts will be Drabble Rock related for example.
Basically, I just want to get myself on a schedule so that I have something to post every day.
Monday: Monday Motivations
Tuesday: Drabble Rock prompts/drabbles
Wednesday: Mercy May installment
Thursday: Topic-centered blog
Friday: Freeform Friday – which is to say I don’t have any ideas for this day, so it’ll be a little random, at least to start
Saturday: Mercy May installment
Sunday: Weekly Writing Roundup
Mostly I just want to get into the habit. Posting once or twice a week was not rigid enough and made blogging less of a priority. By making my blog part of my daily routine, I hope to grow my page and boost my motivation, which has always been structure and accountability based.
Sub-goal: Double the blog’s followers to 250 by the end of the year.
2. Write 500 Words of Fiction Every Day
This is pretty straightforward. I have long wanted to get into a daily writing habit, but have often succumbed to the pitfall of setting too high a word count. So, I’m setting my sights a bit lower. Do I hope to write more than 500 a day? Of course, and it will actually be necessary during my deadline periods.
Speaking of which, this year, I am not going to delineate between paid writing and personal writing. As long as I’m being creative, I will count it toward my words for the day. By the end of the year, if I keep up this goal, I will have written almost 200,000 words. That’s pretty dang good, if you ask me.
Stretch goal: Finish Daughters of Necessity by March 31st. I estimate I’ll need about 90,000 more words to finish, which would double my daily word count to 1000. Tough, considering everything else on my plate, but I think I can do it.
Stretch goal #2: Draft the first installment of my urban fantasy novella series, Seekers of Empyrean, during April’s CampNaNoWriMo IFDaughters of Necessity is finished.
Sub-goal: Maintain a daily word count tracker.
3. Read 1 Book a Week
Alright, I admit this one is a little crazy, especially considering I didn’t even come close to my three-book-a-month goal last year. But, I’m gonna try it again. Why not?
First book on my list: The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso.
4. Diversify Revenue Streams
Its almost a meme at this point, right, but its something that has been on my mind of late. I want to be a fulltime writer some day and the majority of fulltime writers have multiple sources of income. I took a big step in launching my Patreon last year, but I’ve still got a lot to learn and a long way to go in making it successful. Expanding my content there is going to take some more thought and care, so I’ve decided to add another potential brand-builder to my repertoire.
I’ve also decided to launch a RedBubble page. I’ve been mulling over designs and things for several weeks now, and though it might be yet another venture that doesn’t go anywhere, I’m still gonna try.
Sub-goal: Attract at least 5 non-family/friend Patrons.
Of course, these aren’t the only goals I hope to accomplish this year. Some are personal, some are unquantifiable, and some are too small to list out, but they all add up to one mission statement for 2023. When I am doubting myself, when I am struggling, when I am wondering if what I am trying is worth the effort, ask myself, “Why not?”
Why not try to read fifty books this year, when I usually only get though five?
Why not launch a RedBubble when I barely know what’s involved and how to market myself?
Why not commit to writing three books this year? I mean, I’m not, but… why not?
Because I’m sick of asking myself, Why not me?
Well friends, starting tomorrow I’ll be back on my regular content posting schedule. I look forward to finding out what 2023 has in store, and what sort of opportunities I am capable of creating for myself. I hope you all join me for another year of writing. Until next time, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.
Hello friends and welcome to another whomping week of writing.
I’ve made it no secret that I’ve been going through it of late. Between being ill and caring for a sick child, a mental downturn that feels suspiciously like the beginnings of a depressive episode, and bank account related struggles, writing has been top of mind but low of priority.
Which means I have once again found myself in gut check time. Deadline in 10 days and the majority of the manuscript left to write.
Frankly, I don’t have time to brood about what got me to this point. I just need to put my head down and get my words.
Good morning friends and welcome to another woozy week of writing.
This week the name of the game is routine. Last week I really struggled to stay focused and on track, largely because my anxiety decided it was a good time to take me on a little trip round the bend.
Routine is important for me to feel grounded when my brain does funny shit like that.
Take this blog for instance. Every Monday (most Mondays anyway) I write the little motivations post. I just do. Even on days like today when I don’t feel like I have anything particularly insightful to say or any updates to share, it’s important to me to write this post anyway because otherwise my week is getting off to a shaky start. If I don’t do it then something has interrupted my flow, either externally or internally, and it takes me an annoyingly long time to get my head back in the right space.
I learned last week that the ritual of posting my daily tasks on Twitter for all to see (those who haven’t muted me yet anyway) is actually really important to my motivation level. It’s not just the dopamine hit of checking off my tasks. I mean I do that anyway in the physical planner I carry with me. It’s the public nature of it. Sure, there are few people who see these posts, and fewer still who care about them, but something about the knowledge that my successes (and failures) is on display for all to see is somehow more meaningful to my mess of synapses I call a brain.
Last week I changed my routine in the interest of being concise and private, and my productivity suffered for it. So, today I am giving myself the space to not care if it doesn’t make sense. What works for me works, and I should just take that for what it is.
Help friends and welcome to another wolfish week of writing.
Friends, I am back after yet another unexpected week off thanks to yet another of my children coming down with appendicitis. For those keeping track at home, that’s two in two months.
Fortunately, everything went well and I am back to the grind. Best of all I was able to use some of the down time to at last finish the romance novella that had been giving me fits for the last five weeks. I’m hoping I can squeeze one last pitch in before the cut off but if not then that is a wrap on romance writing for the year.
Which puts me in the position to, for the first time in months, focus on my fantasy writing for a while.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t of two minds about this prospect. Romance writing is what helps pay the bills after all and with Christmas right around the corner, it sure would be nice to have some padding in the bank account.
On the other hand, fantasy is where my heart is at. I can scarcely pick up a book, watch a tv show or movie, or play a video game even tangentially related to a fantasy setting without getting inundated with dozens of new ideas for stories. So, having a few months break to really focus on a fantasy draft should be exciting.
If I can finish, that is.
Because that’s always the rub, isn’t it? I have too many ideas in my head to properly keep track of but not enough time, focus, energy, or some combination of the three to actually bring those ideas into existence.
So, while it sound like fun to take these next few months to blow off writing in the interest of recharging my batteries before romance pitching opens up again, I think it’s actually more important than ever to really focus on finishing up this cozy fantasy draft. At 900 words a day, less than the output I strive for when I’m under contract for my novellas, I can knock this sucker out by New Year’s. And wouldn’t that be something?
Hello friends and welcome to another willful week of writing.
The last few weeks have been on the stressful side for me, but a reprieve at last approaches. Today is my last day writing for the marketing firm I’ve been freelancing with the last six weeks. I’ll be honest: I didn’t really care for the work and it definitely didn’t pay enough to be worth what I put into it, but I am glad I tried it. Now I know for sure it’s not for me. And I made a few bucks on the side.
With that behind me, I am feeling so light and free, and capable of anything. I mentioned a few weeks back that I felt like I had come to a turning point. It may have taken me a while to get back up to speed after making that turn, but with this unburdening coming after today, I am at last ready to go full throttle.
This confidence is due in large part to the mental labor (and it has been some serious labor) I have been putting into improve my perennial anxiety and relax frankly absurd expectations of myself. I am learning to accept that I cannot be the writer I want to be under present circumstances because I want to be a writer that stays at home and writes 12 books a year. I want to the kind of writer that has a podcast and a successful website where people congregate. I want to be the kind of writer that can subsist on creativity alone.
But, honestly, I haven’t done any of the work to earn that yet. As much as I want to be able to quit my job to write full time, I can’t. I have to put in the time and energy, blood, sweat, and tears, and a shit ton of hard work. And, yeah, sometimes it fucking feels like an oxymoron. How am I supposed to generate an income I can live off of by writing if I never have any time to write?
By paying my dues. And accepting that I’m never going to get anywhere if I keep spinning the wheels of anxiety against the mud of low self-esteem and sky-high expectations.
I’m a flawed writer. I hate drafting and I am always abandoning projects before they’re fully formed for the new shiny idea. If I don’t have a deadline, being productive feels like pulling teeth. I like talking about writing and listening to writers talk about writing sometimes more than actual writing.
I’ve spent the better part of the last five years fruitlessly trying to change all these things, and the only thing I’ve accomplished is a shit ton of disappointment and self-deprecation.
So, I’m abandoning the idea of change and embracing the concept of making my flaws work for me. Maybe, just maybe, if I spend the energy I’ve been wasting on trying to “fix” myself on more productive endeavors (like, you know, being creative), then perhaps I’ll finally see some movement in this long, arduous journey of becoming a full time writer.
And that’s my motivation this week.
I expect to have two drabbles for you tomorrow since I missed last week with all the stuff I had going on. Wednesday will mark (I hope) the first edition of WIP Wednesday, the new addition to my weekly blogging lineup, and Thursday I’ll be back again to talk about the last six months and how they’ve stacked up compared to the goals I laid out at the beginning of the year. Friday, I’m thinking of reviving Friday Feelings, and Saturday a new entry in The Ballad of Mercy May will go up.
If you think that’s a lot of blogging, it is. For whatever reason it helps me, and I’m tired of pretending it doesn’t.