DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

This past Saturday was a special day. It wasn’t my birthday, anniversary, or anything like that. I simply did something I haven’t done in a very long time. I spent the entire twenty four hours away from my computer. I didn’t turn it on. I didn’t check my email. I didn’t even write. I’m also pleased to say the topic of writing only came up a few times, so it really was a day off work.



It felt wonderful.

I spent Saturday with my husband. We shopped, ate lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, chatted about everything going on in our lives. We even talked about our plans for the future which is exciting for a couple who have been together as long as we have!

The subject then turned to a close friend. I mentioned she’s been a little out of sorts lately. She seems stressed, and from my vantage point it’s beginning to take its toll. She looks older. She doesn’t laugh nearly as much as she used to. Worse, she complains about everything. And everyone. Although retired for a number of years, she does volunteer work for many organizations. One in particular monopolizes her time. It also makes her feel as if her efforts are for naught. And that she’s being used.

My brilliant, insightful husband said, “At her age she should do what makes her happy.”

The proverbial light bulb flashed on inside my head because his words could very well have been aimed at me. 

Since the release of my novel, DEFENDING GLORY, last fall, I have been continually at the keyboard blogging, marketing, and promoting my work. But I’ve done very little writing on the next book.

On Saturday I realized (to paraphrase my husband) that at my age I should be doing what makes me happy!

Does that mean I’ll abandon blogging, marketing and promoting my books? Of course not. I’ve worked too long and hard to become a published author to just let it slide. However, I want to remain a published author and to do that I need to create more stories. So this week I’ll do all of those above things, but I’m also determined to make time for what truly makes me happy. Writing.

I’d love to hear from other authors. How do you maintain a healthy balance between promoting your work and making time for new writing?

9 comments:

  1. Maintaining a balance between marketing and promoting AND writing my next work is something I struggle at.
    I've just spent the entire night up working at my computer.
    I must say that this weekend was night. I spent time with my husband, we ate out Friday, and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon.
    I really feel the truth of your words, "...at my age I should be doing what makes me happy..."
    I'm 50, a wife of 28.5 years and mother of 3, ages 23 yrs., 18 yrs. and 11yrs.
    And yet I've put so much into my writing. And I love it.
    Also my husband is very supportive.
    My first book a collection of short stories was traditionally published. The experience was wonderful and I learned a lot. I meant so much to know that someone or rather a business was willing to invest time and money in bringing my work public. It gave me confidence in my ability to write entertaining and engaging fiction.
    But I must say that having recently self-published my second book, a novel, has brought me even greater joy.
    And yet, much, much work comes with this.
    A friend and colleague of mine is presently recovering from chemotherapy treatments they underwent to arrest the cancer that doctors detected, we are thankful, very early.
    As I contemplate my friend's experience and pray for their continued recovery I am reminded that my time on earth, as will all of us, is temporal, fleeting and limited.
    Writing is my joy and love after my husband and children. Writing is also what I offer up to the Divine.
    Surely I would not be doing this without Divine intervention and assistance.
    When I do not write I do not feel good.
    Writing, prayer and exercise keep me healthy.
    And yet at times I wonder, what is too much?
    How far should I push the limits?
    And even as I write this I feel blog, offer these questions, I realize that I am blessed to be able to do this.
    I will continue to write and follow my passion, let my heart guide me until it no longer feels write.
    Along with writing and publishing my work comes the promotion and marketing part.
    I can't say I love this part. But neither can I say I hate it.
    It's part of the job, or perhaps better said, "Part of the mission to cultivate and audience to receive and enjoy my work--my passion."
    I am so thankful to be able to do this, to have a husband who can and does support me in this.
    So many people in the world have neither discovered their passion, nor do they possess the ability, or the emotional and economic support and wherewithal to manifest their dreams.
    Knowing this truth I cannot stop promoting my work. Just as I am compelled to write, and embrace all that is required on the business and entrepreneurial end of writing and publishing.
    In short, I follow my heart. Because I am self-published, I work very hard. But also because I am the captain of my ship---I am self-published-- I can also take a day, a week, an hour or a month away if this is what my body, my heart and my head demand. This is how I maintain balance.

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  2. Hi Anne, Debby Lee here. I do my writing when my kids are in school and after they go to bed. That way I'm not taking too much time away from them, I hope. Also, I don't put words to paper on Sundays. I write on Saturdays if I have to, but try to leave Sundays open for church and family. This may sound great, but it makes for a slow writing process.

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  3. I set aside certain times in my day for promotional things and for writing. My mornings--during breakfast--are devoted to social networking and promoting my upcoming book. My afternoons--when my daughter naps--are for writing. It works well for me because I get each thing in without them interfering with each other.

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  4. Hi Anjuelle, You wrote, "writing, prayer and exercise keep me healthy" and that really hit home. I definitely have to make time each day to get on the treadmill. Thanks for that gentle nudge.

    As writers we also need to be reminded now and again that juggling our personal lives with the demands of writing IS hard work, but it is so very worthwhile.

    Take care, happy writing, and thank you for dropping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  5. Hi Anne,
    I'm struggling with this right now and I was interested to see what other authors do. I have not kept up with the social networks so since the release of my last book, I've been on a runaway train, trying to get everything in place. I don't know what schedule works for me yet because I haven't been able to slow down. I was hoping somone had a grand idea for me to try! However, I do know this, I'm not a pleasant person when I'm not writing. It makes me happy and like you, at this age, I should be happy!
    Tanya Stowe

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  6. Hi Debby, I hear you on the slow writing process as well as keeping Sundays free. Each writer must do whatever works best for them.

    These past few months I've worked 24/7 at the computer have taken a toll, and I realize I can no longer keep up that grueling pace. Plus, I need time to live my life!

    My discovery of the options button that allows bloggers to schedule posts at a later date is a godsend. Rather than blogging daily, I now devote one day per week to my three blogs, and schedule those posts to be published on various days the following week. It's freed up a lot of time, yet allows me to continue promoting my books.

    BTW, slow progress is WAY better than no progress! :-)

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  7. Hi Kelly, I tend to be like you in that I perfer to address email and such in the morning, then write in the afternoon, but lately that PM time continues to be consumed by other activities. Is there anything specific you do to switch hats? Or maybe you're just WAY more tenacious than me!

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  8. Good morning, Tanya! Your comment about the runaway train really struck a chord. Like you, I raced to get caught up...or at least to where I thought I should be...after publication. I shoved my writing aside because there was always some promotional aspect that needed my immediate attention. Or so I thought.

    And like you, I grow miserable when I don't write.

    Thank goodness a good friend pointed that out to me when I said I was in a bit of a funk. I was so caught up in everything--on that runaway train, if you will--that I didn't recognize the symptoms.

    It really is difficult to find a healthy balance. The solution, I think, is as varied as our writing processes and what we write. However, by acknowledging and talking about the problem and sharing how we each cope, we'll get a little closer to the fix.

    One of my favorite lines on writing is by Susan Shaughnessy in her book WALKING ON ALLIGATORS. She said, "I wanted the truth to be different."

    I think that single sentence sums it up. I wanted the truth to be different. I wanted to be able to master it all. Life. Kids. Family. Writing. Promotion. I wanted to be superhuman and accomplish it all. With ease!

    I guess what I realized is there is no easy fix. Nor is there that "grand idea" you asked for, Tanya! Each of us have to do what works best for us, and unfortunately, sometimes that means making mistakes and having to figure something else out. It's an ongoing process.

    I really, really, really did want the truth to be different! ;-)

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  9. Amen, Ann! I wanted the truth to be different so I didn't have to do the hard work of learning! Thanks for the great post.

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