Greetings all you Liz Acolytes or, as the case may be Apostates.
It’s time to discuss yet another aspect of Being an Author in This Day and Age. Or as I like to call it: “Survival by Your Fingernails,” or perhaps, “Not Perishing of Jealousy While Remaining Creative.” Or maybe even: “How to Stay Motivated in the Midst of Rejection-Ville.”
Hmmm….maybe I should consider a side hustle—the writing of clever blog post titles.
Or, then again, maybe not. Since I don’t think I can monetize it.
I digress. (I do that a lot, sorry).
This fine autumnal month while the weather in Michigan continues to be indecisive, and I attempt to adjust my menopausal body to radical changes in exterior temps while ducking swarms of equally confused stink bugs, I’ve been thinking about the M word.
No, not tiny sized boxes of M&Ms. Or Men.
I’m talking the Big M. Motivation.
The thing that makes you crack open your laptop or sharpen your pencil (you Luddite) and get back to work. If you’re like me, you’re staring down the double barrel of a semi-encouraging R&R (revise and resubmit. Or perhaps you need to start something new and fresh and can’t stop staring at Twitter and Insta and wondering where all these readers are that other authors keep talking about. Or wherever you are in your authorial stage at the moment, we all require motivating.
How do you kick yourself into gear?
For some of you, the whole National Novel Writing Month thing is one way to get focused. For me, it has the opposite effect but if that’s your bag, good on you and go for it. It’s a nice group project. I get it. The thought of thousands of others like you scribbling away on something new-slash-revised revs your Muse? Then jump in with both feet by all means.
I’m one of those authors who will go-go-go-go full bore on one project until I’m red-eyed and my cats are starting to chew their own tails out of near-starvation. That is to say, I’m laser-focused, to a fault at times. I’ll admit it. And likely, as a result, I burn myself out. I mean seriously. I’ll turn something in, usually at 2 a.m. just so I can say I did it since fretting about it being a-l-m-o-s-t done will keep me awake anyway, then swear off all creative activities for weeks, sometimes months at a time.
I’m not a hundred percent sure that this is The Healthiest Method. I mean, I meet deadlines. Get sh*t done. Revise. Write. Edit. Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat. But once that project is done, the thought of sitting and tapping on my laptop for any reason whatsoever makes me more than a tad nauseated.
I admire those of you who can take one, or two, or five hours every single working day of your life and dedicate it to your project(s). Then, you turn that in, or push the “publish” button or whatever you do (because you should do you when it comes to publishing. Another post for another time.) and immediately open a fresh file, or turn to your other work in progress and dig right into that.
What keeps you going? I’m serious about this.
For most of us, it’s not the money, or the zillions of salivating fans waiting for our slightest utterance on social media. (Make a note: “goals”). No, for the vast majority of us, we write because, well, we can’t NOT write. I know I’m that way. Every time I get worked up over some book or another that I think is a joke but that has fancy letters like NYTBS above its title and I swear the hell off this ludicrous joke of a hobby—special torture—job—whatever it is, I declare myself Done with a capital D.
But after a few hours, days, sometimes weeks of calming down and attempting NOT to put ideas, characters, dialogue, and action of my own concoction out onto the screen in front of me, I will surrender to the call of the Muse. (Mine is still shirtless, wearing lederhosen, and clutching a lager beer, btw. Some things must never change).
Maybe that’s the answer. Perhaps staying motivated is simply a function of creativity. As creative types, we must create, else we perish. Or at least we become ill-tempered to the point of evil. I’ve been accused of that one before.
The fact remains, of course, that this writing gig is a tough row to hoe. No matter how hard you work, how much of your hard-earned dough you throw at editors, proofreaders, ads, promotions, newsletters and writing convention table fees, you may never be able to claim “a living” at being “an author.” This is the truth that many refuse to voice. Allow me to voice it for you.
I’m not, nor will I EVER say you should give up.
I mean, I’m not going to and I just got a fresh rejection (ok, a revise and resubmit but DANG IT….) today which is why I’m ever-so-slightly ranting for this month’s post.
No, I don’t want any of you to give up. If you’ve got Something to Say in Fiction Format, you should by all means say it. Give it your best effort. Get edited. Revise. Get edited again. Revise again. Learn from every single editor, beta, and proofreader you employ.
We are all in this together, for the most part. And the power in something like NaNoWriMoTM is just that—power in numbers.
So go on and prepare your meals ahead and get ready for that. Or if you’re like me, circle your laptop warily for a few days or weeks, stare at the R&R a few million more times to perhaps glean something new from it, then get your arse in gear. And write.
Stay motivated, y’all.
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