Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy fun year




I don't make New Years Resolutions because they're usually difficult to keep for a whole year and I always think it's just setting yourself up for failure. My husband always says his resolution is to work hard and make this year better than the last. I like that.

This year, however, I am going to make a resolution of sorts when it comes to my writing.

This is going to be my year of making writing fun again.

I think it's safe to say last year was a pretty crappy year for my writing. The fun got sucked out of writing. It got to the point where I sat down at the computer with my stomach in knots and stared blankly at the screen. I wasn't as productive. I wasn't as creative. I was miserable.

It happened for a few reasons. Some of them were beyond my control. Some things, though, happened because I let them. There were a few turning points in the year where I had to make some difficult decisions and take action, which was scary. But I did it. I took back control of my writing career. And things have improved so much.

How am I going to make writing fun again? 

In this business there are so many things that are out of our control. So this year I'm going to focus on the things I CAN control. Here are things I'm going to focus on, and things I'm NOT going to focus on:
I've had a five-year plan for my writing because I wanted to retire from day job and I hoped that my writing would help support me financially. I'm now two years into that plan and I can see it's not going to happen. But that's okay. I may not be able to write full time as soon as I'd hoped, but it will happen some day, and in the meantime, I still get to write and share my stories with people. So I'm going to focus on that.

I can't control the publishing industry. I entered into this business at a time where the industry is going through massive changes. This had an impact on my "plan" and is beyond my control. I need to let go of that and go with the things I can control. At first I thought that when the economy gets better and the publishing industry settles down, there still might  be hope of achieving my dreams. But now I don't think the publishing industry is ever going to go back the way it was, and I don't know what it's going to look like in the future. Maybe there will be a bigger place for me in it, or maybe not. I'm not giving up on the dream entirely, I'm just going to sit back and see how things shake out in the next few years. It may be that the dream I had just isn't realistic in this new world.

I love social networking, especially Twitter. I love all the information there is out there about writing and books and publishing. I love interacting with other writers and readers. But sometimes the world is a nasty place. There's a lot of hatred and ugliness out there. I'm tired of that. I'm tired of reviewers bashing authors any time they even talk about reviews; I'm tired of authors behaving badly over reviews; I'm tired of people who use all that negativity for their own agenda to draw attention to themselves, and thereby promote and perpetuate it.

Some of this I attribute to the Amazon phenomenon. There is so much pressure  - especially on self-published authors, whose only way of promoting their books is on their own -  to get reviews on Amazon, reviews which increase their rankings, which draw more attention to their books, which in turn sells more books. That's their livelihood and you can't blame authors for trying their hardest to do that. For self-published authors, I think it is safe to say that the majority of sales come from Amazon. It is HUGE. There are a lot of reviewers and traditionally published authors who don't get that. There are a lot of readers who don't understand that. It's caused a lot of conflict. Yes there are authors who have pushed too hard, reacted inappropriately. This is all new to people and people are making mistakes. But I'm tired of reading about it. All the time. People should just leave each other alone. So that is something I'm NOT going to focus on this year.

This year I'm backing away from some of the social networking. I think this will make me happier. It feels like a land mine at times, where an innocent comment can be misinterpreted and land you in a whole pile of steaming excrement. Having said that, if you want to interact with me - please do! I'm here and available through all the usual ways - email, Facebook, Blogger, Twitter. I will continue to send out newsletters to people who've indicated they want that. I will continue to Tweet about my writing and fun stuff and good news. I will try to post more on Facebook about those things. I will blog here and at the Nine Naughty Novelists and sometimes I'll do guest blog posts elsewhere. If you want to ask me a question or comment about my books, I'd love to hear from you.

I'm going to try not to focus on reviews (and I mean anywhere - Amazon, Goodreads, review blogs, review sites). This is a harder one, because every author wants validation for their writing. We all want to know if people like our work. So I have to keep reminding myself that there will always be some people who like it and some who don't. And that's okay. And I can't control it.

I'm going to focus less on promotion this year. Yes, we all want to sell more books, and reach more people with our stories. But there's a lot of stress involved in that too and it's always hard to know whether you're really getting any results. I'm not saying I won't do ANY promotion, because I will, but I'm not going to go crazy with a hundred guest blog posts with every new release and hammer-over-the-head promo Tweets about my books.

I will focus more on the fun things about social networking - interacting with people about fun and interesting things, celebrating other authors' good news and helping them share it, talking about books I love. I will unfollow people who are always negative, mean or self-righteous.

When it comes to my writing, one of the mistakes I made last year was trying to write what I thought I should be writing. So this year my focus will be on writing what I want to write. Yes I want to sell my books. But with other viable options for getting my stories out there, I'm just going to write the books I want to write and have fun doing it!


I think focusing less on the negative things and the things I can't control, and focusing more on the positive things and the things I can control will make writing fun again for me.


So I hope you'll come along with me for year of having fun writing and reading.

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