Earlier this year I read a book called Deep Work by Cal Newport. I loved it so much that I decided to read another of his books, Digital Minimalism. I’m still in the process of that one, but so far, I’m loving it, too.
I know productivity gets a bad rap, but I love learning how to improve, how to be better at, more efficient at, and yes, more productive at because I haven’t been in such a fucking long time that everything and everyone has shot right on by me in this world of being a romance writer. And though comparison is a bad thing… I know this first hand and I know what it can do to creativity and mental health, it’s not hard not to see that my writing career stuttered to less than a crawl in the last…too many years.
I am not satisfied with this.
I am no where done with telling stories.
So, for me to apply deep work (focus) to my writing, I needed to go on a digital minimalistic journey (eliminate some or all of the distractions that had me reaching for my phone or the tablet or the remote control…social media on my phone, in my case). Has it helped? Some, yes.
Without spending time scrolling Instagram, I’ve recovered some hours in my day. I’ve started exercising with a little bit more focus, caught up on household chores that I’d let slide, relaxed more (physically and mentally), and have had an increase in book ideas, story fixes, and overall the creative thoughts have begun to return.
I haven’t written as much as I hoped by this time of the month, but honestly, I’m still happy with the small progress because I’m enjoying writing again. I’m not influenced, nor am I concerned with what anyone else is writing or reading. I’m not listening to any you should or shouldn’t advice unless I’m specifically seeking out information on certain things. I’m just concerning myself with…me in this writing space.
When I started out way back when, I wrote the stories I wanted to write without thinking about marketability, or reader interest. Is this the smart way to do it? Most would say no, especially if publishing is the goal. But here’s the thing I’ve learned… If there’s no love in it, if there’s no joy in it, if I’m not interested in reading it, then there’s not going to be any writing. And the reader I used to write for was me, which means, the reader I need to write for now is me.
I’m listening to music, using a timer for sprints, and just writing where my heart and head lead me. I’m more focused on just telling the story I want to tell and deleting Instagram has helped me do this. My brain and spirit needed a bit of a break.
So… We’re basically halfway through July and I’ve read a few more books than previously, and I have something like…13 active stories that I’m writing on with each in various stages of completion. A couple of them are around the 2/3 – 3/4 mark, some are nearing the 1/2 way mark, and a number of them are in the early chapters. There are novels, novellas, and short 5K word stories (I have plans for these short pieces that I’ll share soon). All of this… I was so distracted from it all and now that I’m not, I’m in a happy place, mentally and creatively.
Not being on social media… Facebook has a lot of author and publishing and collaboration information and I know I’ve missed out on a lot, but I couldn’t trust myself to just stick to boundaries I set for myself. Will that always be the case? I hope not because I’d love to be part of a community of writers who learn and encourage and support and share with each other, but the drama shit was too mentally draining. Book Twitter became a place for judgment and gatekeeping and it was no longer enjoyable for me. Instagram just made me feel like I wasn’t pretty enough, skinny enough, extroverted enough, productive enough, or anything else enough.
I was hella distracted by all of these and with each one I deleted, I gained more of myself back.
I’m digitally minimal right now with regards to social media. I don’t know when or how that’ll change going forward, but for the time being, it’s what I need.
I’m learning to apply deep work to the things I want to get done with regards to my writing career, focusing on the things that will get me where I want to go, and learning to enjoy the journey again without the distraction of shiny things or the creativity killer, comparison.
I’ll talk to y’all soon.
So, I’m sitting at my desk… A Balsam & Cedar candle burning, a little 100 year old ceramic Christmas tree lit, and a Hallmark Christmas movie (Two Turtle Doves) on in the background.
And I thought maybe now would be a good time to show y’all the cover for one of the stories I have been chipping away at the last few months.
I don’t know when it’ll be out and I don’t want to speculate. It could be November or December this year, or it could be January. I know I’m supposed to set dates and have goals and to be quite honest, I burned myself out thinking about all of that instead of doing the thing that would really get me anywhere at all and that thing was and is…writing.
The writing doesn’t burn me out.
It’s all the other stuff that comes with the writing as a business that does.
But… That’s not what this post is about. No, this post is about giving us all permission to look at a cute cover, imagine what the story is and who the dapper guy is, and indulge in a little holiday cheer. At least, it’s permission for me to indulge in a little holiday cheer since last year I was moving in December and we didn’t really do any holiday…anything.
I don’t know if I’ll do more than watch a few of my favorite Hallmark Christmas movies and drink some hot cocoa or make a gingerbread latte, but sometimes those few comforts are enough.
The latest news to come from Wall Street is that Billionaire Brett Randolph has bought a small town. Not just any small town, though. Nope. He bought his hometown of Gumdrop Valley.
Now, I know many of you have never heard of Gumdrop Valley before and I hadn’t either, but the story goes that in the Spring, the wildflowers that bloom look just like gumdrops and at Christmas when all the houses are decorated and lit, the town looks like one of those quaint holiday villages people set up on every available surface in their homes. So, when the town was facing bankruptcy and businesses were beginning to close, Mr. Randolph stepped in and purchased all the land in the county along with everything in it.
Gumdrop Valley was saved and with the influx of money and the hiring of advertising and marketing firms by Mr. Randolph to help turn things around, his investment looks like it will pay off by the holiday season.
This isn’t the blurb, this is just a little something I wrote at the beginning of the story…
Anyway, I’m going back to my movie and I’m going to find some breakfast.
I’ll talk to y’all soon.
I started a little series on Instagram called Coffee on the porch… And it’s exactly as it sounds. I took pictures of coffee on my back porch over looking the pond, the trees, the mountains in the distance, and sometimes even cows from the neighboring farm were in the background.
I don’t exactly know why I started doing it, but it’s been an interesting way to see the changes to the land and it combines two of my favorite things…coffee and the view from my porch.
So, since I’m not on Instagram right now, I thought I’d continue the series here on the blog…
Have you missed me?
I’ve missed me.
However, I’ve sorta found me. Back in December we moved from Charlotte, North Carolina about 100 miles southwest to a small area between Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina called Greer. I have a view of mountains outside the back of the house and it takes me less than 30 minutes to get into the heart of the Blue Ridge. I love this area and it fits me more than Charlotte. Maybe that’s why I write small towns so much. I’m a small town girl at heart…
As most of you know, I’m not an active participant on Twitter much anymore, nor on Facebook at all. I’m not participating on TikTok because well… Yeah. I was somewhat of an active participant on Instagram, but found myself more and more in a negative headspace, deep in comparison, and lacking any sort of inspiration. so, I decided to take at the very least July off from Instagram. I’ve decided instead to use this blog for any sort of communication, comments, thoughts, images, etc… I don’t have anyone here to compare myself to except myself and I don’t have endless things to scroll through wasting time, procrastinating, and generally avoiding ALL THE THINGS.
It’s also July which means Camp NaNoWriMo. I participated back in April and it really helped me get back into writing a little bit after months and months and months away from it. I’ve written in May, and June. Not a lot, but enough to get the ideas flowing again and find my way back into storytelling. I have an ambitious goal, for me, for July, but that’s one of the reasons for my self-imposed Instagram ban. More writing. More reading. Just more…
Anyway, that’s about all for now. I’m going to get to some writing and I’ll talk to y’all again soon.
That’s it to the left.
And here’s where you can buy it…
And… I suck at marketing.
But I love the book. And the two people I’ve heard from who bought and read it said they loved it, too. Everywhere else there’s been crickets. That’s cool, though.
I watch a lot of Gary Vee and one of the things he said recently was… Okay, well, he said a lot of things recently that I’ve taken to heart. I need these little nuggets to remind me where my focus needs to be rather than where it would normally be which is not constructive or creative.
Some of what he’s said that stuck with me…
Insecurity fucks you up. Yep. 1000%. It has fucked me more times than i care to admit and it didn’t even use lube. It’s been painful as hell my whole life.
Fall in love with what you want to say. And also, Fall in love with No. These are two things that tie into insecurity for me. No is a personal rejection even though it’s not in most cases. And loving what I want to say… I can do that so long as I don’t look at what others are doing or saying and I keep my eyes on my own page. It’s harder to do than you think.
Focus more on what you’re saying, more than judging what you’re creating. Well, fuuuuuuuck. But it’s such a true statement. I will judge and judge and judge what I’m working on and ultimately decide it’s not good enough, it’s not as good as this author or that author or those authors over there. Again, if I just keep my eyes on my own work, and get lose in it, I won’t have time to judge myself or compare myself with what someone else is doing.
It all comes down to insecurities. Not being confident. Being scared. Being uncertain. Caring more about what others think or say than what I’m doing, than what I’m trying to say.
And if you’re wondering what this has to do with marketing, well, it has a lot and practically everything to do with marketing. If I don’t market, then more people can’t read what I write, and more people can’t hate it (in my head everyone always hates what I write, whether I love it or not). But is that fair? To me? To readers? Nope. It’s not. It’s not fair at all. So, I need to change it.
In this, I do watch what others are doing. How they’re marketing their books, how they’re getting the word out and I’m just… Paralyzed with fear that I’ll do it wrong, that I won’t deliver, that I will be laughed at, that… You name it, I’ve thought about it happening… Except, success.
All of this, ladies and gentlemen, is insecurity at it’s finest. Fear at it’s finest.
Gary would say, so what if people laugh at your efforts, at least you’re doing something and not just waiting for everyone to happen upon your book.
But what does that mean? What kind of marketing should I do? Ads? Blogs? Blog tours? Bookstagrammers? Email list? Paid promo through marketing sites? Facebook group? Or should I just go on video? Should I just post pics of my book cover? Should I fill up my feed with nothing but my book? I don’t know. Should I do a little of it all? Or do I wait until I have X number of dollars to put into it?
I was writing in my journal today about this, that I’d like a step-by-step guide of do this, then this, then this, and then this. I’d like a blueprint, or one of those diagrams… Did you write a book? Yes or no. And if yes, then do this. And if no, go write one. You know the one’s I’m talking about?
Unless I do something, I won’t know what might work or what might not. Unless I do something, anything, no one will have the chance to know if they like or hate what I write.
I don’t have a lot of author friends. I can’t just turn to a group of writers and ask for help, for shout-outs. Once upon a time, yes. Now, no. It’s up to me to figure it out and fear and insecurity jack me up every damn time. Analysis paralysis. What if…
I suck at marketing. I suck at knowing what I should or shouldn’t do. I don’t suck at writing. I’m pretty fucking good at that, but in this game, that’s not enough.
So, I better figure it out, huh?