Tag Archives: discouragement

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Five Lessons Learned from Month 3 of Being a Full-Time Author

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It has been three months since I started my Full-Time author adventure. Here are a few lessons that I have learned.

1) You control your own destiny…mostly

I have a problem of making lofty goals. Q1 of being a full-time author was no different. I worked my tail off and still didn’t make them. Most of that is my fault, but there were some unforeseen circumstances. My editor, and good friend, had also made some lofty goals for her Q1, her life exploded a little bit and chaos ensued. Which meant one goal that I could have accomplished didn’t get finished because she was unable to get my book edited in her usual timeframe.

I can’t point fingers, it’s just life.

2) You have to treat it like a real job

Everyone told me this before I went full-time, and while I believed it and thought I understood it, I didn’t. I still don’t, but I’m getting there.

The best thing I did for this is to make a daily schedule for myself. It’s not set in stone, but the first two or three things in the morning, including exercise, really set my mood for the rest of the day. Sitting down at my computer and typing in my journal for a few minutes allows me to get into the writing mindset, and then into the groove.

Each morning I also sit down and make my to-do list for the day. I tried doing that the night before, but kept forgetting, so now I do it in the morning.

3) Break it down, break it down, break it down

Besides making daily to do lists, I found it helpful to take Friday afternoon or Monday morning to make a to do list for the week ahead. Sometimes the list looks daunting, but if I need to get 10k written on a project before the coming Friday, then I can look at everything I need to do and work it all into the schedule.

This week, for instance, I need to finish an outline I’ve been working on. Which sounds daunting, I’m not going to lie, but if I break it down into smaller chunks, it’s more likely I’ll get it finished. Today I’ll work on the main character’s flaw/problem and how she is going to change by the end of the story. Tomorrow I’ll do the same for a few of the side characters. The next day I’ll start working on my outline beats, and hopefully a day or two after that, I’ll be finished.

4) Having a hard time concentrating? Leave your house.

As most of you know, my hubby got laid off in January, so he was home for a couple of weeks. And even when he’s “hiding in his office not making a sound and pretending he doesn’t exist” it’s distracting to have him at home. Also, about 10:30am each morning I feel the urge to take a nap. Every time I get up my mind says I need a snack. And let’s not even start with the internet.

There’s a Barnes and Noble not too far away, and I tend to go there if I’m dawdling too much. I know several authors who do all of their creating time somewhere besides their home. Others have one computer for writing and another for business stuff. Some have separate offices. I don’t have the space for that, but I can go somewhere else.

5) The unexpected can be good

One reason several of my Q1 goals got pushed back was that I received an invitation to participate in a boxed set of fairy tale retellings. I won’t spoil the surprise, but it was a nice invitation from some great ladies that I know. It took me twenty or so hours to outline, write and edit the story, so while that wasn’t originally part of my Q1 goals, it should be fun.

I also entered several Flash Fiction contests, which I wasn’t planning on. All good things, but unexpected.

Q1 didn’t turn out like I wanted it to, but maybe the most important lesson I was reminded of is to focus on the positive! Whatever you’re doing, keep going and don’t give up!

 


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They Say, if You Can Dodge a Wrench, then You Can Dodge a Ball

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Despite the rough start, January was a pretty good month for me. Not perfect, but good. I proved to myself that I could make progress, and that going full-time as an author was a positive move.

I have a lot I want to accomplish in February. The month is short anyway, and I’m losing five writing days for writing conferences and vacations. So on the 1st, I sat down and laid out the fifteen days of writing that I knew I was going to have so that I could get everything done. Like I said, it was tight, but I was ready.

The very next morning, I get a phone call from my old work.

You know, the one I basically retired from? The one I walked out of six weeks ago and wasn’t planning on going back? At all? Yeah. That one.

It was my old boss, asking if I would be willing to put some hours in because they were in trouble. The shop is ahead, engineering is behind, my replacement isn’t up to speed yet, one guy gave his two weeks notice…It wasn’t a new situation. This kind of thing happens all the time at my old work.

To be honest, I was shocked my old boss called. The company doesn’t like parting with money (understandable) and he knew I was going to ask for a lot. Because, duh, subcontractor.

Now, as irony would have it, on January 23rd, just four weeks after I’d quit my day job, I get a message from my husband saying that he was getting laid off.

Nice, right?

Lucky for us, his current employer is awesome, and gave them three weeks notice, as well as a nice severance. Plus, we’ve saved for a rainy day. Not to worry, he’s a software engineer living in an area where his skills are in high demand. He’s already had a bunch of interviews and is almost excited about a change. (Because let’s be honest, finding a new job is a pain.) However, when my boss called I felt like I needed to say yes to going back to my day job.

I just sent a novel to my editor last week, and what I get paid for my few days of not-writing-work will almost cover it. Which is going to kill three of my fifteen days of writing in February. However, it will keep the financial burden out of my normal checking account.

So there’s my wrench for the month. I’m not sure I’m dodging it. I may be taking it right to the face. We’ll see.

Anyone else have a wrench in their month already? Or, on a happier note, how did you turn your lemons into lemonade?


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Stupid Discouragement

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Discouragement is an emotion we’ve all felt. From the toddler, who’s life seemingly ends when they don’t get chicken nuggets for dinner, to the octogenarian who finds their body falling apart around them and everyone in between. There are a thousand things a day we can be discouraged about, maybe more. And for some reason it’s easier to focus on the bad rather than the good.
Lately I’ve felt particularly assaulted by dark thoughts—whispers of guilt and feelings that I’m not quite good enough in any area of my life. If I miss a writing goal I feel like I’ll never be successful as an author and that I may as well give up.  If I mess up a day of my diet it’s all going down the toilet anyway, so I may as well go to Culvers for Ice Cream, which then spawns the guilt for breaking the promise I made to myself to be good. One cross word to a family member and I feel as if I’m the worst person on the planet. One judgmental thoug
ht sends me into throngs of guilt that are almost impossible to break free from.

I figure I’m not the only one with this problem. Society pushes us all to be perfect in ways that are sometimes unattainable. For instance, Facebook keeps telling me that I’m beautiful no matter what. Well, sometimes I’m not, so quit telling me how to feel, dang it. Let me wallow, or let me
throw my hair back and be ugly if I want to. Sheesh. The pressure is killing me.

Then I feel bad for hating all of those nice people on Facebook who think I’m beautiful.

Seriously, is there an end to it?

Last week a lot of things came together and tossed me into the mire. Writing wasn’t going anywhere, which is always frustrating because I do it part time and need to make progress. My sister had pointed out a fatal flaw in my latest novella, so I was trying to re-work it. There had been some family drama that boiled for a few weeks before it finally exploded all over everything. My house wasn’t clean (this is a big thing for me. I know, I know, it doesn’t really matter, but it does to me, so back off!) There were tasks on my To-Do list that had been there for a month. I really hate that. I thought I had offended someone. I’d probably offended several people. After a few weeks of trying to be more healthy I’d gained a pound (not muscle, I promise). And looking at May, I saw I had exactly two nights free the entire month, including weekends.

In the midst of stressing about all of this, I threw myself into writing a novella. I have a new outline, so I thought I could push out 10k words on Friday. Considering I could copy and paste at least 5k of those, I felt confident that I could do it. Normally 5k words in a day is no problem. I’m a fast typist, and this was middle draft material, not final draft. Go me!

Only nothing worked. Not one word was easy, and after four hours I was practically beating my head against my desk. I’d forced myself to keep my butt in the chair, I’d forced myself to eat  a healthy lunch. I’d forced myself to skip my walk in order to meet this writing goal for the day.

All for nothing. And I wasn’t even PMSing.

Looking back, this shouldn’t have been a big deal. But it was, and I know why. Because
I let it be.

I know, I know, now I sound like a meme, but it’s true. I am perfectly capable of replacing dark, discouraging thoughts with better ones. Sometimes I don’t want to, and that’s when I get into trouble. Because it’s easier to stay in the dark rather than rise into the light. It easier to complain than to find solutions. It’s easier to say “I’m not good enough” rather than to square your shoulders and say, “What’s one thing I can do better today?”

Not everything. Don’t think about that, it will dive bomb you into discouragement oblivion. Push back one thought, break free of a little guilt, look around and smell the roses (ignore the weeds, you can pull them later), call a friend, do something for someone else.

Discouragement is normal. We all go through it, but we don’t have to let it drag us down. Put on your favorite song. Go for a walk. Order pizza for dinner. Play a game. Read a book or watch a show. Take a time-out and come back to it with a better attitude. Decide that you’re in charge, not those stupid whispers in your ear that bring you down. Trust me, you’ll be happier. I am, when I can do it. It’s rarely easy, but it’s always worth it.


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