Sunday, May 22, 2016

R.I.P. Bloggers with Burnout

During each season of writing, writers live two lives; their own and whatever characters they’re writing about at the time.

Life, as we all know, is busy. And when you’re a writer, living your own life while writing about someone else’s, you tend to feel pulled in different directions pretty much all the time.  In addition, there is all that extra work involved with author branding, the business of publishing, and the time you spend marketing what you’ve been able to create. For writers who blog, or are constantly using some form of social media or other means of staying in contact with their readers, everyday life can be very hectic.

I’ve been working on my own book series for four years now…having published the first book in the series, No Mother of Mine, towards the end of 2012. During this time, I’ve almost religiously followed certain authors and bloggers, always looking for help, researching about writing, searching for tips about publishing, soaking up ideas relating to marketing, or just hoping for some extra inspiration and motivation to get me through the week.

But lately what I’ve noticed is that many of my favorite bloggers and authors have tapered off from regular posts, or only write about one thing (their latest book), or they’ve lost steam altogether.

I recently reviewed the list of all the blogs I’ve been following, and I came to the realization that about half of them haven’t posted very often this year, if at all, while others haven’t posted for over a year or more. This really surprised me. I had wondered at the lack of content from some of my favorites, or the lack of variety, but I just had no idea so many had actually dropped off from posting at all. 

My take on this is that some of the authors and bloggers who I had been following gave too much of themselves, at least professionally, if not personally. They were always quick to share their advice, offer a free class, provide helpful tips and tricks of the trade, or whatever it took to keep people like me coming back for more. 

And I will always appreciate them for it. 

But in providing so much to others, my thought is how long were they able to keep up that pace while they lived their own lives and put whatever energy they had left into the next book they hoped to get out there? 

Being a writer isn’t easy – and sometimes living your own life, while writing about your characters’ lives, can be overwhelming, which is definitely something to keep in mind when you’re trying to stay on task. But based on what I’ve discovered with regard to some of the bloggers I’ve been following, it would appear it’s what you do in the middle of those two lives…blogging, other social media, newsletters, offering seminars or online classes…that can actually increase the possibility of burnout.
Times change, people move on, and what we need or what others can offer doesn’t always remain the same. What writers have to figure out is when to give, when to hold back to allow some breathing room, and when to move on if necessary. No apologies needed. Regardless of the season they’re in, writers have to find that balance in order to avoid losing the passion that kept them going for so long.

It’s just another lesson learned from those who I have respected for the past few years. While some of my favorite bloggers are no longer with us, or possibly just on a very long break, I appreciate the fact that I’ve gained knowledge that will help me as I continue on my own journey as a writer.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The tools I use as life shifts between busy, bad and beautiful

If you’re on Facebook, you might receive those posts reminding you of something that happened to you a number of years ago. Today, I was informed that I became friends with my aunt seven years ago…on Facebook, that is. In life, we’ve been friends much longer than that.

Lately, what these reminder posts have accomplished is to give me a little shock when I realize how much has happened in the few short years since this or that occurred. If I use this latest FB reminder to go on, the amount of change our family has had to adjust to in only seven years is astounding.  From one end of the spectrum to the other, from incredible highs to extreme lows, all in the middle of what life usually has to offer.       

I’m sure many of you know what I mean.

Whether life is busy, beautiful or bad, I was pretty good at figuring out a way to swim through the muck and get done what I needed to get done. For the most part, anyway – I still had those days and while I’ve always been organized, time management has always been a work in progress. But when I lost my dad early last year, what had usually worked for me became foreign, difficult to stick with, or just outright challenging to even attempt.      

During a recent reflective moment, I reviewed my blog posts for the past few years and I noticed a trend…2013 and 2014 had a good mix of blogs having to do with possibilities, positivity, productivity, characters, the writing process, staying organized, recharging, creative chaos, perseverance, distractions, patience, time management, editing, publishing, writing events and holidays.

My dad passed away on January 2, 2015, and I’m sure most would understand when I say that my process as I managed life became difficult for awhile. Posts for 2015 were less than half the amount than the year before and included the subjects of loss, writer’s block, feelings/fears, characters (when they were speaking to me), productivity, motivation and time management. But the posts related to productivity, motivation and time management were likely more of a pep talk to myself, as I continued to try to stay on task given everything that had happened.

I had to get through a lot of firsts after Dad passed away and when I finally got through the first anniversary of his death, something finally happened. I realized I was continuing to remain stuck in the past and that I needed to get my head back into the present. When a person is able to do that, especially after such a great loss, it’s a truly beautiful thing. 

Since then, my posts for 2016 have included these subjects: a new outlook, staying on track, clearing the clutter, book events, staying focused, characters, and the writing process. Some days, I have a hard time coming up with what I want to share (I’m not immune to difficult days) but today I wanted to share what I’ve been doing to help keep myself focused and on task. 

Most important is writing – 

Good or bad, just getting something down is really important – this quote helps motivate me:

Reading to relax and unwind.  

I’ve always been a reader but I’ve slacked on how many books I can get through in a year, so I’m finding the time to read through the pile of books I constantly keep adding to.

Continuing to learn something new... 

about writing, marketing, blogging, or whatever might help me as an author. Learning from others will also provide me with motivation and inspiration and it helps to learn what works, and what doesn’t, for others who are doing what I do.

Clearing the clutter and reducing the creative chaos.  

I’ve taken on this task in the past, but most recently I have decided my past attempts have only scratched the surface. It’s going to take me awhile to get through every room in the house but so far the amount of items I believe I can do without is amazing. I’m currently using Ruth Soukup’s book, Unstuffed, for ideas.  One of the most rewarding tasks to date was to really clean my desk. Not just dust it. Not just reorganize it. But to go through every drawer, every shelf, every tray and each surface that has become more of a catch-all. Once I was done, I was floored by how much better my desk looked and how less chaotic it felt when I was trying to write or work on other projects. It is unbelievable how much better I feel when I sit at my desk and now I can enjoy creating without all that chaos waiting to curb my enthusiasm.



Paying more attention to what will calm my spirit and feed my soul.  

There’s much to be said when it comes to this subject. Being mindful, purposeful and grateful are extremely important and keep me motivated and inspired, and push my thoughts in a positive and productive direction, which will help keep me moving forward rather than looking backward.

Staying healthy – 

It's a hot topic right now and easier said than done when hurdles keep coming up but there are baby steps we can take…drinking plenty of water, getting enough rest, walking if nothing else in order to get ourselves moving rather than sitting all day, learning to eat right or in moderation with what is right for us. Now that I can begin working on my gardens again, I look forward to getting outside and playing in the dirt. Not only is it good when it comes to staying active, it’s great for my mind because I can work out so many character and plot issues when I’m gardening. And of course, we can all benefit from some more Vitamin D.

There’s more that can be added to this list and if you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them. But this is some of what I wanted to share when it comes to what I’ve been doing to stay focused and to move forward with motivation towards goals I wish to achieve. What I hope is that eventually these tools can help me shed the busy, reduce (or better get through) the bad and always enjoy what’s beautiful. 

Until next time; carry on, read on and have a great week!