THOUGHTS, RAMBLINGS, WHATEVS
Been doing a lot of administrative adulting this week, but that’s not cramping this girl’s style!
I still can’t tell you how much in love I am with Tucson right now, especially because my location is just so incredible! And in better news, writing went SO much better this week. My daily word count isn’t where I want it to be, but it’s not dripping out this time, which is awesome.
And in even better news? In news even more awesome and even more bewildering?
ONCE AGAIN, THE GIVEN HAS BEEN HOLDING STRONG IN AMAZON’S TOP 100 FREE CHARTS FOR THE NEW ADULT & COLLEGE CATEGORY…
AND IT’S BEEN DOING SO FOR THE PAST MONTH!
Like, for real, though… HUH?!
Don’t get me wrong. I really REALLY love my books and my series as a whole. And I worked so hard on them. I wrote from the soul. I edited them like 10 times, weaved in plot twists, honed action scenes, tweaked character arcs.
I read my novels forwards, then backwards, and I read them slowly and aloud. I hired a damned good developmental editor, and then I read my novels again. I sent them out to beta-readers, and then tweaked again… I went to town on those bitches, so that at the end of the day, I know I crafted a good story and wrote a good, solid book.
Maybe The Given, The Taken, and their omnibus, Ghosts of Koa, will not be America’s next top novels, but they will be books that are enjoyable, fun, and professionally executed. Books I’m proud of.
But I didn’t expect anyone else to actually like them too, lol.
Like “like them” like them, at least enough so that my book would hit the charts. I don’t know if my surprise demonstrates humility, ignorance, downright stupidity, or just a writer’s typical low self-esteem, but let me tell you something: this was so unexpected and so pleasantly surprising, and I am deeply humbled.
Hitting the top 100 on a free list might not seem like a huge achievement, but to be true, there are thousands of free books for folks to choose from. And I’m flattered mine is being chosen again and again. Not to mention, The Given is a book that was pretty much anchored down on the Amazon charts for nearly 3 years! But now, at least temporarily, it’s been buoyed to some level of visibility.
So, of course, the next challenge is to keep this going, keep loving the creation process, keep executing like a pro. And, obvs, keep writing and publishing more books and more series!
Anyways, I mentioned in my last update that I was going to talk a little about writer burn out and how to avoid it. So here are my thoughts on it:
Sometimes, as indies, we are trying so hard to build a sustainable, lifestyle-based, passion-based business (and rightfully so) that we lose our ways. We focus so hard on making the numbers, making the word counts, getting out those pages, and marketing ourselves. We race, launch, and rush so much that we forget why we came to this career in the first place.
The reason we’re racing and launching and rushing, is because we want writing to provide us a full-time living. Because, many times, that is the ultimate dream of many serious writers. However, when we write for a living instead of writing for pleasure’s sake, our measurements of success and happiness change.
Our “happy” now comes from “how many books did I sell this month?” and “are my sales going to put food on the table” as opposed to “damn, what is the Hero going to do about having murdered his own friend? I can’t wait to discover what happens and write about it!”
And when the measurements of our own happiness changes, so do our levels of happiness, especially if we are not meeting or exceeding our goals. If we fall short of these goals, we start to lose esteem. We feel unsatisfied. We get burned out, discouraged, blocked. Then, sometimes, we even wonder what the point of writing IS anyway.
But, bruh! The point of writing is that you love it, and that the writing, building, and creating itself is satisfying. Remember?
Of course we know this in the very backs of our minds, but we forget because, again, we are now writing to make a living, and so we measure our success in dollars and sales rather than in satisfaction.
So how do we become happier, refreshed writers who block burn out like Neo blocked Agent Smith in the Matrix?
Just change your measurements of happiness back!
Just like you’d change a unit converter to read out pounds instead of grams, you can change your own measurements of success from “sales” to “journey joy”. It just takes time, commitment, and the willingness to “let go”, like that chick in Frozen. It also takes the deliberate adoption of certain “writer mindsets”.
I’m sharing this with you, dear Creator, because I’ve experienced author-entrepreneur burnout as well, and it took me a long time to figure out why. It took me an even LONGER time to remedy it. So this is what I did:
I literally had to create and adopt SIX different mindsets regarding my writing career. And I’ve had to move from one mindset to another in order to feel like I’m creating, diversifying my schedule, and also remaining efficient, while ALSO maximizing my happiness and satisfaction as a creator.
And no, moving from one mindset to another, is not me demonstrating a split personality or anything, lol. It’s more like me saying: “What expectations, goals, and inner focus can I adopt right now that will best use the time available to me, get the most done, and maximize my happiness?” In other words, which mindset do I need to feel happy in this moment?
I’ll write more about these six mindsets and how to activate them (via a meaty, content-rich blog post at The Bohemian Badass), but I’ll give you a super quick intro to each mindset right now.
#1: The Bliss Mindset: “I’m just gonna frolic and bliss out right now.”
- Translation: my focus today is to actually enjoy my writing and world building, no matter how long it takes or how few words I write. I might even draw, read, do research, or something else for my worldbuilding.
#2: The Architect Mindset: “I’m working on my novel, enjoying the process, but I aim to get something specific done today.”
- Translation: my writing goal is to get SOMETHING done. I’m going to outline Act I of my novel or create a specific character, along with his backstory, or hit 2,000 words today. Whatever the goal is, my mindset is focused on that goal.
#3, The Business Mindset: “Let’s get some marketing and business-building in.”
- Translation: my mindset for today has nothing to do with writing. I’m instead going to pitch some bloggers my book or set up a giveaway campaign for my novel series. Or, I’m going to do something around the business or marketing aspects of my career.
#4, The Cray Cray Creator Mindset: “Just get it DONE, by all means necessary, shitty-first-draft stylez.”
- Translation: this is all about getting words on the page, by all means necessary, no matter how shitty they sound. Bruh. I don’t care if my two characters are in a stand-off and the next thing I write is “Deus Ex Machina.” My only goal is to get the story written. Period.
#5, The Reflective Mindset: “I need to step back and take a good look at my creative career.”
- Translation: I’m going to use this time to look at my achievements, goals, failures, and progress. I might take a minute to write a productivity journal and keep track of my day-to-day activities and milestones. Later, I can celebrate my successes OR see where I can do better next time.
#6, The Live My Life Mindset: “I’m living life and being present in this moment, so that when I come back to my story, I have something to write about.”
- Translation: this mindset is just as much about letting go as it is about diving in. Sometimes, my day really is too jammed up, or I’m sick, or I’m dealing with life. Life happens, and that’s okay. If I can’t write, or I have a block, I allow myself to just let go of my writing for a moment (or a day or a week) and be present. I travel, or consume books, movies, TV, or I try something new, or Ipick up a new hobby. Etcetera. I also keep a journal to chronicle my physical and emotional life journey, and trust me, it always translates to my creative work.
It’s always good to approach your writing and business each day by deliberately choosing which mindset to activate. Also, be careful, because staying in a certain mindset for too long can also lead to burnout or discouragement. So mix it up! Allow yourself to frolic one day, and then give yourself a novel-related task to complete the next. Keep it fresh and lively, so you can avoid writer burnout and enjoy the journey you had the bravery to start!
So there you have it! Those are the six mindsets I activate, deliberately, every day that I sit down to work on my writing and career. Doing this really helped me to pull myself out of my dark holes and has helped me to SMASH writers block. Especially when I give myself permission to activate the “Bliss Mindset”, which allows me the freedom and flexibility to explore my own imagination!
Anyways, WOW. What a mouthful. Moving forward, here’s what happened last week, and here’s what I HOPE will happen THIS week (though it’s clear that the “Live My Life” Mindset has taken over for the month of June, lol):
LAST WEEK’S HAUL
What I wrote: I hit 2,031 words for The Iron Maiden, and 1070 words for that other secret project I mentioned last week. Yay! Again, still working on my velocity (as my toddler swings from my hair), but I suspect that will pick up as daycare begins.
What I edited: Nothing. Ain’t nobody got time for that, yo.
What I read / watched / listened to: SCANDAL! Yass! The second half of season 4 stole the show this week, folks. And I loved every minute of it.
What I researched / developed: I had a really interesting AND awesome week where research and development is concerned. And that goes for my fiction projects as well as my business projects!
So, I’m going to talk about my fiction stuff first (which is exciting) before I get into business stuff (even more exciting!). I worked on a bunch of storybuilding and plot-weaving for the entire second season arc of The Books of Ezekiel. Meaning, the next five books. Also, I straightened out my production schedule for the next two years as well, and I’m excited to say that I have some pretty rad projects coming up next year! This includes both the ASYLUM trilogy and the FORGOTTEN trilogy, as well as that secret project I mentioned, plus another secret project (both of which are in the same genre and universe). Of course, this assumes that I get my writing time in, lol.
So now, onto the REALLY exciting stuff: some of you may already know this, but others of you might not. On March 11th of this year, I literally woke up to an epiphany that outlined, for me, what my true purpose is as a creative, a person, and as someone who wants to give back to the world.
So here is my purpose as I see it: I am here to help creatives, especially single, disenfranchised mothers who are also creatives, to build sustainable, lifestyle-based businesses around their art. I am here to launch as many self-sustaining artists and creative businesses into the world as humanly possible, and to encourage the growth and appreciation of arts culture in the United States and beyond.
As a brief side note, this mission of mine is VERY strongly influenced by the time I spent in the Netherlands. While I was there, I discovered that the government there actually treats being an artist as a viable and worthy career and actually PAYS you to be an artist. They believe that art is an integral part of how culture & society evolves and chronicles itself, and they validate artists as actual contributors to their society.
On that note, their government pays artists a wage and also provide housing (thereby eliminating the issues of empty, abandoned properties). In exchange, they expect artists to put on exhibitions, hold seminars, publish books, make and show films… etcetera. I loved this so much that I wanted this for the United States. But since our government has little interest in art, I knew I had to create a program like this myself.
To fulfill this purpose, I’m going to start a foundation, called The Dollhouse, which will be an extension of my brand, Rebel Ragdoll. This week, I started conceptualizing and developing (on paper) The Dollhouse’s flagship grant program, along with two supplementary grant programs.
The flagship grant program would be aimed at providing five-year living wage grants to artists who want to work full-time at creating their art and who want to build a sustainable creative business around their art. This grant is to help artists treat their creative careers as full-time careers rather than as “side gigs” or “hobbies” or “things to be pushed to the edges of the day”. The five-year time frame is to give each artist ample time to build a successful creative career. A requirement of this grant is that applicants need to meet a certain financial threshold. If they exceed that threshold, they unfortunately cannot get the FULL grant, but might be available for a supplementary grant, both of which would be smaller and shorter.
The other two grants will be supplementary grants. One is for creative single mothers, to cover family-specific costs and services that impede their abilities to be self-sustaining artists. This can be awarded either WITH the flagship grant or separately.
The third grant is for artists who are ALREADY self-sustaining at a basic level, but just need an extra boost in their yearly income and in family services so that they can provide comfortably for themselves and their families as their incomes finally reach their desired threshold.
SO, that is what I was working on last week in terms of creative R&D. I really hope that in the next five years I can get The Dollhouse off the ground and really help to turn the arts into a viable, sustainable, and validated career for artists who couldn’t imagine themselves doing anything else. Wish me luck!
What I learned: No classes made it into the docket for this week, but never fear. I’ve got some free days coming up, and I’ll definitely be able to FINALLY get back into gear!
THIS WEEK’S HUSTLE
What I’m writing: More of The Iron Maiden. Still, words from the subsequent Books of Ezekiel are also coming out of my fingertips, which is divine!
What I’m editing: Nothing, really, though there’s a blog post for The Bohemian Badass that I’m working on, so I’ll be shaping that up as the mood hits me.
What I’m reading / watching / listening to: Aiming to finish “All Hallows Moon” this week. It’s a good book and a quick read; it’s just that I’ve been busy. Also, my new focus now that I’m caught up on Scandal? Catching up on GAME OF THRONES! I heard it was off the chainz this season so I’m amped.
What I’m researching / developing: This week, I’m shaping up more of The Iron Maiden’s plot and tightening the bolts. AGAIN. You cannot even fathom how easy it is for an epic urban fantasy with multiple points of view to get completely out of control and unmanageable, lol. So, yah. Doing that. But I’m also getting some interesting ideas for a concept I developed recently. I don’t plan to work on this concept, but ideas for it are germinating. We’ll see what crops up!
What I’m learning: I’m going to see if I can get through Teachable’s “The Profitable Teacher” this week! I actually have some days off where I have some peace and quiet, so that’d be awesome sauce.
Whew! My posts seem to just get longer and longer, huh? Lol! So what’ve you been up to this week? Anything new, exciting, or tantalizing? Any epiphanies of purpose you’ve stumbled upon? I’d love to hear from you! (Really!) So feel free to leave your comments below!
Writing on, rocking on, and forever journeying towards creative badassery,