I am running on fumes trying to get caught up over the last few weeks. Here’s one of my posts from my newsletter, which originally ran in January, when I decided to change my newsletter format from trying to accomplish All the Things to what I felt was most important. If you’re interested in signing up for the newsletter, the link is here.
I decided to stop making New Year’s resolutions. You know how it goes. First you push hard. Then you slide a little. You push even harder. Then you slide a little further. Eventually, all that pushing makes you tired. And you stop.Last year, I decided that I wanted to move from a freelance-based business (ghostwriting for clients) to a royalty-based business (selling my own books). I knew it was going to take a lot of time. I started blocking off mornings for my own work, and afternoons for my clients. And then I spun my wheels. I was doing a lot of minor tasks that didn’t get me any further toward my goal.
So, knowing myself, I decided to do one small task per day from several categories:
- Writing for myself.
- Promoting my work.
- Publishing more work.
- Growing my business.
I had run into a situation where I had to do a massive behind-the-scenes overhaul on my website. I had let things slide…and it had become frustrating to use. You can’t grow business based on a website that annoys people. But I hate updating my website. Bleah.
When I sat back during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I realized that having those categories was nice, but that I wasn’t really accomplishing what I had set out to do. Publishing my backlog of work, in particular, hadn’t really gone anywhere.
My priorities had defaulted to:
- Promoting (if you include social media).
- Growing my business.
Ouch! I was spending the majority of my time keeping up with stupid Facebook notifications. I was jumping whenever someone whistled.
I went over the last ten years of my writing career. I’m not where I used to be. I’m a much better writer. I looked at the things that made me better. The top thing wasn’t writing, per se. It was studying. Specifically, it was about five years ago that I started typing stories in an doing analysis on how specific parts of them worked.
Studying how to write in an effective manner (typing stuff in) helped me write faster, edit less, and feel more confident about what I wrote. It was a game changer. I can type stuff in if I’m depressed, anxious, or brain-dead that morning, and it will help me focus on writing. And, if I stick to typing in a thousand words a day, it doesn’t really take that long.
But it was embarrassing to realize that writing wasn’t the top item. Also embarrassing? Realizing just how much backlog I had in my files, waiting to get edited and published. Write as much as you want, but by itself it can’t make your career.
I sat down over a few days and painfully sorted out what would put me where I wanted to be, eventually:
- Growing my business.
A lot of things are important. But when you say to yourself, “I can get it all done!” then something is going to slide, and it’s going to be the hardest, most brain-intense, most life-enriching items on your to-do list, unless you have priorities. No priorities = Facebook.
I’ve been using the new list since January 2, and I’ve already had two super-productive days, and one day of running errands. I honestly feel a little panicked, because I’m not jumping on top of my emails and messages first thing in the morning, and it’s easy to convince yourself the world will end if you don’t reply to people immediately if not sooner. But I got a lot of stuff done.
We’ll see how it goes. If you try something similar, please be gentle on yourself: getting myself sorted even this far took about half a year and involved a lot of mistakes.
But I think in ten years I’m going to be pretty pleased.
**Update May 2019: So far so good. I’ve finished two novels, did a major rewrite on a third, and wrote several short stories since then, gone to a professional-level workshop in Vegas, made progress with my continuing study (still on Poe, btw), updated my website pages (I hate doing this), and participated in several anthologies. The next release should be May 31, and here is the cover!
Alice’s Adventures in Underland:
The Knight of Shattered Dreams
Alice, now 17, is on the cusp of womanhood and in love with a forbidden prince (well, just Leopold) as the zombie infection mutates and changes. Will the love of her life survive? You can find the first book, Alice’s Adventures in Underland: The Queen of Stilled Hearts, here.