I miss writing partners, write-a-thons, all night writing sessions with other writers, someone to go to bookstores with to write, local writing friends, online writing sprint parters, etc…
Now, A LOT of that is my fault and I accept that. Not being on social media anymore takes me out of visibility in every way. I didn’t have a strong social network for a number of years as it was, so to drop away entirely just weakened it to the point of I’m pretty sure anyone that ever knew I existed…forgot me.
That was a trade off I was willing to make to get my creative brain and mental health back.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss those things I mentioned above. And that’s okay. Would I like those things again? Sure. Without a doubt.
I do still have a couple of writers I am in contact with from time to time. We check in and check up on each other and I am so grateful for them.
Camp NaNoWriMo starts on Thursday.
My self-inflicted writing challenge for March ends at midnight tomorrow night
And I’ll clue y’all in on what I’m doing and what I’ve done with regards to both later this week.
I’ve been writing this whole month of March.
The. Whole. Month.
It’s a challenge. No, really. It’s a writing challenge I set for myself and I’ll tell you about it when the month is over, which…it’s not.
*glares at the calendar and how many words are left to write*
As you know, I work on several projects at once. I’ve never been a monogamous writer. I cheat on WIPs ALL THE TIME. There are good and bad things about this way of writing and I’ll go into that another time. However, for the purpose of this blog, one of the ways this is not so good is that multiple WIPs reach the middle at the same time. UGH.
Two of my roughly five active projects have reached the middle. Double UGH.
There’s always a book with a muddling middle being written. That’s the way this game of writing works. There’s always a moment in the middle when a writer questions why she began writing in the first place, why she thought she could write a fucking book, why she didn’t just stab the characters at the first sign of trouble and what would happen if she did that now… Writing life choices, y’all. Writing life choices.
And while I can and do work on others when I’m stumped with the need to mull things over, at some point I have to get back to the muddling middle of these two WIPs so that I can get through it and over to the other side, sliding toward the finish line.
When these two are finished, another couple will have reached that same middle ground and I’ll have the same questions pop into my head and I’ll feel extra stabby for a bit.
For now, though, the knives are still tucked away.
Are you curious about them? The books, I mean… Cool. Me, too.
What I can tell you is that one is the 3rd book in a series that has taken me millennia to finally write, and the other book is the 1st in a new series no one asked for, but I hope people will like it just the same.
Hope y’all are well, safe, healthy, and finding something to smile about.
Since October 12th, I’ve been down in Florida and during this time, I’ve managed to scratch out a couple thousand words. That’s much less than a week’s worth when I’m at home, but for these 3 weeks, I’ve been helping out family and having the mental energy necessary to write has been a challenge.
I’m mentally, physically, even emotionally exhausted. Being a caregiver, short-term or long-term is not for the faint of heart. It’s definitely not for the selfish or the ‘me’ mentality. It requires patience, kindness, and the ability to scream internally when you can’t scream externally.
Normally, I would have said, ‘I just can’t. I’ll just wait until I get back home and get my head back on straight, catch up on sleep, on de-stressing, on XYZ… And then, I’ll start writing again.’ I haven’t done that. I’ve eked out words here and there, most of which don’t make much sense and most of which will be edited out. I also not upset about it, about the lack of progress on a novella I’d hoped to have finished long before November. I’m barely halfway.
I’ve texted with a couple of friends since I’ve been here. I’ve mostly taken my mom or grandma to the Dr, the store, to run whatever errands need to be taken care of, etc… while my mom is recovering from a fall that left her with multiple fractures in one arm along with a plate and nine screws in her wrist. Her sleep schedule is way off which means that mine is, too. By the time I fall asleep around 2-3am… my brain and body have had enough.
Writing is often an escape, sometimes a joy, a lot of times very hard work. Right now it’s not an escape. I can’t think straight enough for it to be an escape and I don’t have the time to sit and immerse myself in a story. I cobble together a few words, try to figure out a storyline in the moments I may have a second to think. I crave and cherish time to myself, something I haven’t had any of for three weeks. I don’t think I’ll be taking that for granted when I return home.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am grateful I can be here and I can help out when needed because no one else in the family can come. I have the freedom and flexibility in my life and schedule that my sister and cousins don’t. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my grandma who is 95. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my mom. I am close with both of these women, but we’re all also cut from the same stubborn piece of cloth and it does pull on the nerves from time to time.
All this, though, is to say… Whatever the circumstance, writing can happen. Even if it’s ten words a day. Five words a day. It’s like the jigsaw puzzles my grandma and I do when I’m here and there’s some down time. It’s one piece at a time. It may be a total of one thousand pieces, but one piece at a time gets you one step closer. It’s the same with writing. One word, five words, ten words in a novella or novel doesn’t seem like much, maybe a drop in a bucket, but it’s one, five, or ten words that weren’t written before and it’s one, five, or ten words closer to the goal.
So, if you find yourself in need of writing but you don’t have much time, you’re exhausted and don’t know which way is up or down and everything seems to be going sideways… Just add one word, five words, ten words… They don’t have to make sense. They just have to be there.
I love y’all… And I’ll be in touch again soon.
First of all, look at this picture! Isn’t it pretty?
I took this yesterday morning just before sunrise.
We also saw a deer for the first time coming out of the trees. To the other side of the yard, there’s a large field with a pond and there’s usually seven to nine cows multiple times a day. This is all very different than being in Charlotte where there was a really busy road on the other side of our backyard. Here, there’s a pond and trees and cows and well, now deer.
It’s August. In my mind, that means we’re on the downhill slide from Summer and headed into Fall. I realize we still have a while yet until we see temperatures below a hundred with equal humidity, but a girl can dream and dream I shall until it becomes a reality that I’m able to open the windows or sit outside by the fire pit and roast marshmallows while watching football.
But back to July for a few minutes…
It started out with me deleting Instagram from my phone. I missed it for a few days in the beginning, but as the month went on, I stopped missing it. I stopped looking for it. I haven’t been on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. I have had no voices in my head save my own. I haven’t compared myself or my progress to anyone else. I haven’t spent countless hours scrolling and living vicariously through other authors, publishers, editors, readers, food bloggers, coffee companies, etc… The only social media I’ve had anything to do with has been Pinterest and YouTube.
Pinterest has been something I hadn’t paid attention to in a long while, until the past few weeks when I needed some new recipes.
YouTube is where I go for videos on writing, food, and exercise. And all three of those things changed for me in July.
I wrote a lot. Not by anyone’s standards but mine, but still, I wrote a lot. I didn’t meet my Camp NaNoWriMo goal by any stretch, but I did write. I also added a lot of new story ideas. I mean… Y’all just have no idea. My brain is constantly coming up with new ideas on the daily. Sometimes more than one a day. There are some started, and there are others percolating in the back of my head. I typically have to write at least one page so I remember what the idea was. I haven’t had this happen in YEARS!
My diet changed. Not because I wanted it to, but because my body decided it wanted it. The change it picked? Dairy. I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to do it. But I did… And I started with coffee because of course I did. I figured that if I could find a way to drink coffee without dairy, then I could pretty much handle anything else without dairy. So, I went to Sprouts Farmer’s Market. They are amazing and I love them. I am beyond grateful Greenville has one. They have a large assortment of non-dairy creamer and half and half. I bought several and have been experimenting with them. I can do this. I also began switching out other products that contained to dairy to ones that don’t. Slowly, I’m adjusting and adapting. And there have been a few benefits beyond my stomach not being upset every time I ate… My joints haven’t been hurting as much. A lot of sluggishness and bloating has disappeared. I’m enjoying cooking again. I’ve found a lot of dairy-free information on YouTube that has helped me and recipes on Pinterest. I have a friend who is dairy-free and one who has a daughter who is. They have helped me a lot, as well. I am learning in the kitchen and finding things that work for me. My goal is health and to feel better and to have a little fun with it.
And finally, I am exercising again. I had been walking a lot when we first moved here, but as it became increasingly hotter, that stopped. I don’t want to walk at nine o’clock at night or six in the morning. I don’t want to gasp for breath because the humidity is such that I can’t fight it. I used to do yoga through YouTube videos and walking from home through YouTube videos, so why not try other workouts. I found one that is for women 50 and over who are going through menopause and while the woman is beyond perky and grates on my nerves every so often, her workouts are moderate and short and fairly enjoyable. I like them and they’re helping me get my heart rate up, get my resting heart rate down, move easier, and in general feel better. I haven’t lost any weight, but that isn’t the point for me. The point is health and yes, I do believe you can be healthy at any size if you’re moving, eating balanced, and enjoying the majority of things in your life, laughing and smiling more.
And now that we’re in August, I’m still exercising, still learning all the ins and outs of dairy-free which is a lot plant based, too, and still writing.
I hope you had a good July and while I know some of you love Summer, I know some of you are like me and you’re looking forward to Fall.
I’ll chat with you later.
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.