When I Stopped Writing

For the better part of two years, I had an awesome word count to report at the end of most days. Thanks to playing along with the super-fun #authorconfession hashtag game on Twitter, I noticed that my word count had stalled out. This was strange and alarming. I went back through my planner to try to see what happened. When did I stop writing? What I learned was pretty shocking.

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My publisher closed their doors early in 2017, returning the rights for quite a few of my books. I already had a writing plan for the year, and was determined to keep moving forward. What I hadn’t anticipated when setting up that plan was needing to go back and get those titles back on the shelves (I actually have nothing but gratitude for everything this experience taught me).

I was determined to stay on my writing schedule—and I did, while getting those books ready for re-release. It was an intense period of time, and I honestly don’t know that I could have learned everything I did if I’d given myself more time to get it done. In just the month of May, I had a traditional release in the Gone with the Dead anthology, and re-released Gray Card and the entire Summer Park Psychics trilogy.

That was kind of crazy.

Several of those releases were sort of surprises to me. But if I’ve learned anything on this publishing journey, it’s to expect the unexpected—and always be ready to jump at opportunities.

What was even crazier was when I realized that in nine months (March through October), I managed to independently release/re-release 12 digital titles and 7 print books, plus the piece in the traditional anthology.

I’m going to share a secret now. Somewhere, I have a picture of myself lying on the floor with a proof copy of one of those print books on my face. Because that was all the energy I had to take a “celebratory selfie” when they arrived :S

My goal for the end of 2017 was to have the first seven Department of Homeworld Security novellas published, along with the rest of my backlist, plus launch my Forbidden Knights series. I wrote three new novellas to make this happen. Lucky for me, Duel Citizenship and Forbidden Instinct were already written and just needed edits.

The last launch of the year was in October, and I crashed pretty hard afterward, caring for a family member with pneumonia and then coming down with an epic flu myself that lasted…well, I’m still coughing. I’d actually dealt with worse, even during times when I had a week turnaround for trad edits. And I had felt like my life was more balanced and happy back then. What was different?

I went through my planner to try to figure it out, and found a shocking revelation. I hadn’t written anything new since July. JULY.

The word count notes ended and from then on it was just edits, cover design, writing blurbs and taglines. And, of course, I also decided to start learning the ins and outs of marketing at that point. My writing time was devoured by these admittedly important endeavors. Aside from a short story here and there, or sneaking a few words into a project I wasn’t supposed to be working on (looking at you, Blades of Janus, book two), there were NO NEW WORDS.

So, I stopped writing…when I stopped writing.

Okay, I know this seems obvious stating it like that, but until I paused and looked back at the year, I had no idea what had happened. I just knew my happiness was down, my health was down, my energy was down, and people around me were urging me more and more often—and earnestly—to make time to write (I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who love and know me so well ❤ ). I had thought I was making time to write, but I was actually spending all that time and energy on what I call writing-tangential activities.

After a lot of hard thought, here’s what I’ve learned from all this:

  • As someone who thrives on the actual act of writing, this isn’t something I can let happen again. Writing isn’t optional for me. It’s part of maintaining my sense of sanity.
  • No matter how many other important publishing things I need to do, I have to give part of my writing time every day to actually making new words—or at least daydreaming plot points and character traits and backstory.
  • Momentum is so much more important than I realized, and is a big part of maintaining my daily writing habit.
  • I need to finish what I start, from original idea to seeing the title on the shelf. That’s an important part of my sense of fulfillment in all this. I just need to be sure to plan releases so that I always have another new-writing project to jump to when I finish a title.
  • I need to go back and read my writer’s craft book. This is exactly why I wrote it in the first place—to help me stay on track and remember how I accomplished those word counts while keeping my life in balance (and hopefully give other writers ideas that could help them on their own paths).

And that’s the end of one of the longest and most personal blog posts I’ve written here.

Writers, we must write. No matter what. Even if it’s daydreaming over our lunch hour. Even if it’s a few words jotted down in a notebook at the bus stop. I know we can find a balance between everything involved in making our words, getting them out there, and living our best lives while we do so.

It’s definitely a journey. Thanks for sharing it with me ❤

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