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.
It’s time to GET YOUR READ ON!
Bout of Books is a read-a-thon hosted by author/blogger/reader Amanda Shofner and blogger/reviewer/reader Kelly from Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 8th and runs through Sunday, January 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 21 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.
I will be posting updates about my reading on Twitter, Facebook, and hopefully Instagram.
I’m still gathering the books that I will be reading or attempting to read. At least one will be a paperback or hardback and at least one will be on Kindle. I have a ton of books to choose from and I’m totally excited to be participating again.
I don’t have any goals really beyond reading. I started 2017 with the intention of reading more and reading at least one chapter of a book at night. I will be employing that same intention for 2018, only I want to read more than one chapter per day/night. I have found a love of reading again by branching out and forcing myself to get out of the reading rut I was in prior to 2017. And read-a-thons like Bout of Books has helped tremendously.
If you’d like to join up as well, and I think you should, the sign-up is HERE.
Some participants are listing goals for the read-a-thon and I think, for me, given the writing schedule I have, my goal for this round of Bout of Books will be to read 2 books. If I can read 3 books, that would be awesome. But my stated goal will be to read 2 books. On January 8th, I’ll let y’all know what book I’m going to start with.
I really do hope you’ll consider signing up to read with me and whole big community of readers.
If you’d like to follow along, the use the hashtag #boutofbooks on social media!
Hi Y’all! Lissa Matthews here! I’ll be holding things together for Hour 23… We’re in the home stretch!
Does the title make you curious? Make you a little anxious? Make you want to wring my neck for planting the mere idea in your head of not reading for a year? I get it… But… What if TODAY was your last day to read a book for a year? That starting after you turn the final page today you’re not allowed to read another book for 365 days… What book would you choose to be the last one? What book would so capture your mind and imagination that you believe it would have the power to hold you over until one year is over? Inquiring minds want to know.
Me? I’m still struggling with this answer, but ever since I came up with this question, the one book that’s been sticking in my head is Caraval by Stephanie Garber. Of all the books I’ve read this year, this is the one that my brain keeps going back to…
Hopefully you’re still here, pushing through to the very last word on the pages. Maybe you’re even looking forward to a nice long nap and some eye drops. I know I am. But honestly, this has been great and I’m so thrilled to be part of it and hosting one of the mini-challenges!
So, please, leave a comment here with your choice of book that would be your last one if you couldn’t read for a year. I’m very curious at what people choose.
If you choose to answer on social media, don’t forget to use the #readathon and specifically for this mini-challenge #lastbookforayear And if you’d like to tag me as well, I’m on Twitter and Instagram as @lissamatthews
I will also be offering up a prize for this challenge… A $20 gift card to In The Wick of Time or up to $20 for a book of your choice from BookDepository.com
I mentioned a bit ago that I would be participating in a 24-hour Readathon on October 21st and I wanted to give all of you the chance to sign-up for it, too. ALL the details are HERE as well as the sign-up form.
As it states, you don’t have to read for the whole 24-hours, but it’s fun to try and read as much as you can. Part of the fun is in the planning. Snacks, naps, location, and especially what books you’re going to crack open. Novels? Graphic novels? Box sets? A series you’ve been dying to read?
That last one is me. A series I’ve been dying to read. There are two that I am flirting with and I’ll likely end up flipping a coin to see which one will get my attention. Whichever one is put off, I’ll pick it up during the other readathon in January.
For now, though… Please consider signing up for Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon. Meet other readers on social media. Find new authors and books to try. Connect over a love of reading.
So, my tally for Bout of Books 20 isn’t as high as I’d hoped it would be. I made it through 3 1/2 of the Magic and Mayhem books by Robyn Peterman. I had wanted to make it through all 5, but life happens. I don’t feel too terribly bad because I came into it so late, but when they have Bout of Books 21 in January, I will be totally prepared to put in all 7 days from beginning to end.
But I ‘met’ (on Twitter) some really cool people and found a lot of great books and blogs to follow.
The next read-at-thon I’m planing to participate in is the one I told y’all about on October 21st. It’s a 24 hour one and I think I have the series picked out that I’m going to dive into… Then again, between now and then, I may find several other series and I’ll end up putting all the titles in a hat and drawing one out.
I’ve finished writing Abe’s Will and have a few scenes to flesh out.
I’ll be starting on Witchin’ Spice, my title that will be in Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Kindle World. It will be out in October.
There are many other books I’m making notes on and planning and several re-releases happening, too. I’ll keep y’all updated on those as they happen.
I’m also wanting to put together a read-a-thon of my own and a write-a-thon. I’m looking forward to finding people to help me with ideas. If you have any, let me know!
But for now, that’s all I have!