I’ve debated writing this post for a long time. You might have noticed, but my blog has been a little quiet of late. Part of that is due to increased work in my day-jobs as a freelance contractor for various endeavors. Part of that is due to the fact that I’ve been a little…how shall we say…wallowing in self-pity? I jest, but in all seriousness, my little writer//author flame has been puttering out this summer. I’ve been dealing with some health issues in real life that have left me a little exhausted, tired, wiped out, and mentally drained. I’ve been working to make ends meet financially with my contracting jobs. Things have been a little crowded in my head space.

Characters have been quiet.

Scenes haven’t been jumping into my head willy nilly like they used to.

Writing has felt like pushing a 2 ton boulder through sand.

I haven’t really sold many books in the last year and haven’t gained that many readers yet.

So? I took a break. Not just for a week or two. A several month break. And you know what? I really, really needed it. I literally stopped most writing//author things for a while and I went through a major cycle of feeling disappointed, feeling like a failure, feeling relieved, and finally feeling hopeful about the future…

It hasn’t been an easy summer. I’ve really had to examine my dreams and goals and my reasons for publishing independently vs. seeking a traditional publisher. For a while, I really considered taking my books down and pursuing traditional publishing again. Then, I started remembering all the reasons I love the idea of independent publishing.

Recently (i.e. in the last few days), my flame for writing and publishing has begun to fizzle and spurt back to life. I’m still not ready to jump back into a manuscript yet, but I started really examining my books: their covers, their content, their presentation, etc. I started examining my author brand.

I can definitely make some changes to give my stuff some oomph!

You may be seeing a pattern emerge here. I’ll call it the “What To Do When Things Aren’t Working” pattern. Here’s what *I* think that looks like for some authors:

1. STOP //By “stop”, I mean seriously stop. You’ll really need to take a legitimate break from writing, authoring, blogging, and updating your social media. This break may be a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, depending on the severity of your “mini-breakdown”.

2. PONDER//By “ponder”, I mean really think objectively about why you love writing, why you love being an author, and why you want to do publishing. Also take time to ponder things you don’t love so much about writing, being an author, and the publishing process.

3. PICK UP A MAGNIFYING GLASS//Take some time and really sift through your books. Look at your covers, your blurbs on the back, and your content. Really figure out things you could change to make things better. Be as hard on yourself as you can without totally breaking your spirit. After all, you’re taking a break. You don’t have to take any ACTION on these things now, just observe and take note.

4. TRANSITION FROM WORRY TO DREAMING//It is an utter waste of imagination to worry all the time. I had to learn this the hard way (i.e. the feeling-horrible-for-weeks-and-then-realizing-I-didn’t-have-to way). Use your imagination for dreaming again. For me, this looked like, “Hmm…What if a new cover and better editing really made a huge difference for my books? I think I’ll try that!” Give yourself permission to DREAM about your work again.

5. IDENTIFY SOME ACTION ITEMS THAT ARE DO-ABLE//I was able to concretely nail down several things I could pursue immediately that would help me to not only feel better about my books, but also to get myself back into the authoring spirit. As well, these action items (once completed), might actually help me to sell more books and gain readers!

6. JUMP BACK IN SOMEWHERE//For me, jumping back in hasn’t been diving knee-deep into a manuscript. I’m taking my time accomplishing some blogging again, brainstorming ideas for my publishing-action items, and working on a just-for-fun story/art project (a webcomic). Find your spot that you feel comfortable and that you feel has minimal risk and just go for it!

If you’re in this process, believe me, I feel you. It’s tough being a writer or author and having to admit that your previous ways weren’t working. It’s tough reinventing your process and your books. But, if you go through the pattern outlined above, by the end of it, you will really start to feel excited again about your work. At least, I did. Like I said, I’m not quite ready to go all gung-ho on writing again, but I’m getting there. I’m starting to feel that spark turning into the tiniest of flames.

Thank you to everyone who has been encouraging me via Twitter and on my other blog. It means a lot and I’ve really enjoyed my time off. I hope to be posting here more often, now, though not nearly as often as I was trying to do in the beginning. Posting everyday on two separate blogs was just TOO much. I have lots of work going on in “real life” now and authoring and publishing aren’t always at the very top of my to-do list each day.

I truly hope you all have a marvelous Monday. I’ll hopefully be back soon with a book review!

What To Do When Things Aren’t Working
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  • C. Lynn Kamm

    I get where you’re coming from about this. Sometimes a complete critique
    is a good idea. I do these for writers all the time, where I go through
    and break down literally everything that strikes me as weird or out of
    place or unbelievable. For some writers it has been very helpful, if
    they want that kind of observation. I think the hardest thing can be
    trying to read your own writing as if you are your reader. We are so
    intimately wrapped up in our own stories that we can’t see the flaws and
    sometimes don’t even want to! At least that’s how I get with my own
    writing at times. But don’t worry, your passion will pull you along!

    • For real!! It is so, so helpful having someone else read through your books and honestly, if I had to do it all over again, I would have done that FIRST. I just didn’t really have all my ducks in a row at the time. You live and learn, though, and I’m glad that I’m learning NOW! Experience is such a great teacher. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  • Kendra H.

    It’s so hard when this happens. I’ve been there, multiple times. In fact, I just came off a dry spell that left me freaked out. I had to remind myself to get out of my own head. Or, um, my husband had to remind me of that. I had a really bad bout of writer’s block about a year ago. If writing is your heart, it’ll come back, but I know how hard it is when you’re there. I’m glad you’re in a good place!

    • It IS hard, isn’t it? I’m glad I’m finally in a good place about everything now. I totally understand your writer’s block issue. That’s sort of how my mess got started. I had a HUGE writer’s block and I panicked and then everything else snowballed into this HUGE problem. In the end, though, I think it really helped me to get excited about change and updating my books to be the absolute best that they can be. Thank you so much for your sweet words, Kendra!

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  • Bill Coleman

    My father taught me that it was OK to make mistakes, so long as you learned something from them. So, when you feel like a failure — what was your mistake — what was the lesson?

    There’s definitely times when the muse isn’t with you. Don’t sweat it.

    You did have me worried, though. Taking a break looks an awful lot like quitting entirely. I’m glad you are sticking with it.

    • Haha, no, definitely not quitting entirely, GW. I’ve actually got some really exciting stuff going on in my authory-endeavors. Not quite ready to talk about them just yet, but they came out of this summer-desert period. I’m really glad I took such a long sabbatical, but I’m getting back into the groove and even wrote some really (I think) great stuff last night! WOOHOO!

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