What makes writing a tough business in my opinion is not really the work involved, the constant need for marketing, or even the overwhelming industry pressure to “conform or be cast out”, but it’s how long it takes to get a sense of accomplishment.
While it feels good to finish short stories and the like, one can’t help but feel like they’re floundering when writing several of those and trying to submit to market. Very few people read short anthologies or magazines so even if you beat the astronomical odds and get into those, very little feedback will come your way and this is often where writers burn out because they feel like they’re spinning their wheels.
On the novel front, it takes so long to complete a novel and get one released that it creates much of the same feeling. It’s hard to just be content with the work — not only until you’re finished with it, but until you release it.
And sometimes even that doesn’t satisfy the feeling of the grind. That’s normal, I think. The goal is to push through it, keep going, and continue working. You have to not allow yourself to burn out.
Part of the way I handle this is I regularly post word count updates on social media or percentage updates of a project. No one really cares about these kind of posts, they get less engagement when I have new product, say something funny, or whatnot, but unlike most of my postings I don’t do these so much for my audience, but I do it for me.
I’m a firm believer in self-talk and how you talk to yourself and about yourself reflects that way to others. Yesterday I spoke with an author who was being apologetic about a post in terms of self-marketing, I told this author to reword it. Don’t be ashamed of your work, you should be joyful in your work. If you’re not, it comes across.
And I think that self talk matters not only in marketing, but also in the ability to get through some of the more sloggy aspects of this business. The self-talk extends to social media as well. When I post “I wrote 2k words today on the James novella and it’s got one more scene to go before it’s done!” I’m also telling myself I made a major accomplishment, when otherwise it might not feel like it because of the lack of release-feedback.
I think it’s handy to do, and it’s almost a reward for finishing work at the end of a day. It gets harder when I’m working on marketing/business contracts for most of a day for various projects because there’s not much to post on those, but even then, at least internally, I stress that it’s important to take pride in the small victories.
On my front, I’ve been quiet with releases for awhile. It’s been since last June since I’ve come out with a major release, which in a lot of ways is far too much time, but I’ve been readying a LOT. My next book, The Stars Entwined, took me 17 years to get it where it’s at from original concept to my complete rewrite and overhaul of it last summer.That’s a long time for not much accomplishment, and it’s really hard to come back and do work on it when I’ve got so many new projects in front of me after the concept is that old in my mind. But by the same token, it is a fresh product, I did finish it, it is the major space opera world/universe I’ll be setting a lot of future stories in, because it turned out really good.
I won’t have much real sense of accomplishment until it releases in March, but I do take joy in the work in between. It’s crucial to maintaining hard work and good spirits as an author.
If you like all my hard work and you want to see some cool stuff I’ve accomplished along the way, including draft chapters, deleted scenes, and really awesome short stories (February’s is a prequel to a novel I’ll be coming out with in the summer), then check out my Patreon. You’ll get great content at lower rates than most authors out there and join a great tight-knit community in the process.