I recently listened to the keynote addresses from this past summer’s RWA convention and one phrase that was used struck me so profoundly I had to write it down on a sticky note that sits on my desk.
Author Nalini Singh (who writes absolutely wonderful paranormal romances) urged everyone to “Protect the joy in your writing.” Plenty of negative forces wait for you whether you’re published or not. Rejections, bad reviews, naysayers, poor sales, etc. All of it can get you down and take away the pleasure from your writing.
She didn’t offer too many concrete ways to accomplish this, and I understand. The means and method will be different for each person.
On the personal level, I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to decide what that means for me. It certainly hit home, because I haven’t been as productive the last few years. Part of the reason is the demands of family and job on my time. But another part, and maybe even the bigger part, is that I’ve misplaced some of that joy. It got buried beneath keeping up with the day job and family, meeting deadlines, the need to promote relentlessly, and mounting worries about some of my publishers.
I’m trying to find the joy again.
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I do set goals to strive for. So this year my aim is simple: write more, spend less time on everything else (except family). In practice that means, I’m cutting back on my day job work. I run a web business and I’m starting to shut it down. I’ll continue to work with my existing clients, but I’m taking on very few new ones. That way I won’t have the worry of backed-up work hanging over my mind while I’m trying to write.
I plan to worry less about promoting. I’ll continue to blog here and on my own blog, plus occasional guest blogs. I refuse to get hung up in trying to be a huge presence on social media. It’s not my thing and I don’t know how to do it. Instead, I’ll spend that time writing and trying to put out the best stories I can.
I don’t have any current deadlines and I’m going to try to avoid getting into that trap again. I won’t stop submitting to publishers but I want to try to keep it to a book at a time or series that I already have planned out.
I’ll spend less time on the whole business end of the job. I’m designating a time (an hour a week) for handling that.
I’ve already gotten to the point where I can cope with rejections and bad reviews without too much stress and recognize that it’s part of the rough business I’m in. I’m not opposed to self-publishing books that won’t work for my publishers, but I’ll hire out most of the formatting work.
Mostly I just plan to write. Not with any particular publisher or market in mind. I will write what I need to write and hope that I’ll find the joy in it again along the way.
What do you do to protect the joy in your writing? Or if you've lost it, how have you found it again?