Tag Archives: anxiety

Success By Any Other Name

So. I’ve been off Facebook for a while. I’ve been away from here, too, but Facebook has been the big change.

I needed quiet.

It’s not the updates or the friends that I’ve been avoiding, or even the unavoidable drama. It’s about me and my anxiety. My depression. And above all, my creativity.

I’ve been struggling for a long time. As much as I love writing–as much as I NEED writing as a way to connect with the world, figure myself out, and say things I can’t say any other way–the business side of it has never been good for me. Marketing is an anxiety trigger (for reasons I won’t go into here), and when I found myself unable to do it without breaking down in tears I was getting insanely stressed out in a seemingly unending spiral of stress-anxiety-shame-stress-lather-rinse-repeat.

You see, I thought I was a failure if I never got back to the sales numbers and income that I had with my first books, so I kept pushing.

Because here’s you see on social media when you’re an author:

SELL MORE BOOKS! WRITE FASTER OR FANS WILL FORGET YOU EXIST! TAKE UP MORE SHELF SPACE! WRITE WHAT’S POPULAR AND GRAB NEW FANS! MASTER FACEBOOK ADS! HAVE IT ALL BY HITTING A LIST! BUY THIS COURSE! HUSTLE HARDER AND YOU CAN WIN THE GAME!

And I’m not saying those are bad things to want. They’re good things for the right person, and I’m glad there are people out there who can help.

But when I’m on Facebook and it’s all I see, I start to think that that’s the only way to define creative success these days. Amazon followers. Little orange flags. Instagram likes. Facebook comments. Newsletter subscribers. HUSTLE HUSTLE HUSTLE, and there’s something seriously wrong with you if you’d rather not be in the fast lane.

I needed some time off to get myself away from all of that to understand that I’m allowed to define success for myself.

Honestly, I still don’t know what that means. What I have figured out, I think, is that I can’t let writing become a constant source of stress or I’ll lose everything that made me fall in love with it in the first place. I can’t chase goals that will leave me mentally and emotionally exhausted, with nothing left to offer my family and friends at the end of the day. And that’s where I’ve been headed, honestly.

I do know what I want, I think. I want to take my time, writing gorgeous books that I’ve had a chance to fall in love with, exploring every bit of inspiration and insight that I didn’t see until the second (or third, or fifth) draft without worrying that I have to publish NOW to keep the balls in the air. I want to take days off when the sun is shining and the beach or the blueberry patch is calling, or when the kids are sick or have a snow day. I want to read more. Learn more. Be bored more. Explore stories that have no chance of selling but that I want to tell because they inspire me. Blog more, and not just about writing. Take more time to share other people’s ideas and projects and successes and help them achieve the goals that feel right for them.

I can’t do that AND be stressed out about ticking all of the marketing boxes. Some people can do it all. I can’t. And I’m not sure I want to, given what I know of what it costs me and my brain (bless it).

So I’m in the process of choosing new goals. It’s hard. It’s one thing to say that I want my writing to be about creativity rather than fame or finances, but I do tend to compare myself to others and feel like I’m somehow falling behind if I let myself be happy with what I have instead of CHASING THE DREEEEAAAAAMMMMM that it seems I’m supposed to have.

It’s a process, as is everything else in life. Maybe some day I’ll get there.

I’m not giving up on writing or publishing, or even marketing. I’m at the end of a (damn good, if I may say so myself) 7-book series under my pen name and would really like to see those stories connect with readers who will love them. I’d like to keep publishing, which means making money for edits and such, which means selling books.

I think what I’m trying to do, really, is give up on the stress,the time-suck, the HUSTLE, the bitterness, and the expectations of anything other than writing books that I’m proud to call mine.

I’m trying to get back to the pure joy of playing in my sandbox and then showing off what I’ve made in the hope that others will also find pleasure in it.

I’m trying to fall in love again.

We’ll see how it goes.

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HAPPY BOO JEER!

Wait…

*drinks coffee*

Happy New Year!

No, I wasn’t out partying last night. I spent a quiet night in with my parents (who are visiting), my husband and my kids. Also assorted cats and dogs, and friends via Facebook.

And that’s my kind of party, really. I’ve never understood why anyone would want to start a new year off with a hangover*. Also, crowds make me uncomfortable, so parties aren’t really my thing.

No, I spent the first part of my evening making grand and impossible plans in my new desk calendar, only somewhat disappointed that I can’t use all of my new highlighters until I have a better idea of when things are going to happen.

Still, pencilling things in was GREAT fun.

It’s time for a few more plans. Not writing and publishing plans. We’ve covered those already. I’m talking about other things.

Things like:

 

Reading

These plans never work out as I want them to, but it’s worth a shot. My goal for this year is one novel and one non-fiction book a month. Not much for some, but I don’t get as much reading time as I’d like. And within that goal, I’m setting another. I want to read more books about people who aren’t like me. More people from other cultures. More people of different genders, sexual orientations, and experiences. More memoirs and autobiographies from people who have experienced things I never will. More from genres I’m less familiar with, even if I have to approach them like a kid coming at a plate of broccoli, nose pinched shut and eyes closed.

We only get to live one life, but through reading we can experience more of the world, gain empathy for those with different experiences, and hopefully learn to love other people more fully.

Also, I just think it will be more interesting this way.

 

Blogging

I’m going to get back to WIPpet Wednesdays as soon as I can, and continue to avoid spoilers as much as possible. It might not be every week, especially through January and February, as getting Torn edited and out in March is the top priority.

I’m going to get to every post on those weeks I participate and read, like, and possibly comment. If I don’t have time to read, I don’t have time to participate.

I’m going to spend more time reading blogs, both those I learn from and those of people who comment here. You’re all important to me, and I feel like I’ve been so busy this year that I’ve done a bad job of visiting. I’ll be better about that.

I’m also going to start re-blogging some of my older posts that as still amusing, relevant, or worth reading. I now have several years’ worth of posts, and I don’t expect anyone to go back and find the good ones.

Should be fun. We might do that on Mondays.

 

Productivity

This is kind of work-related, but sort of not. My big goal in this area is to learn to focus on what I’m doing at any given moment. If I’m working, I want to be immersed in that, not jumping back and forth between that, Facebook, Twitter, doing the dishes, checking e-mail, etc. When I’m with my family, I’m going to try to focus on them, not on my phone.

I want to be present in what I’m doing.

Some of you know how hard this is for me. My brain seems to be wired to crave distraction. I can’t just be where I am. I have to be planning something for work, or imagining another time and place, or working through a plot issue, or considering the pros and cons of a book promotion. I can barely focus on a real-life conversation because I itch to grab my phone and check social media, even though I know there’s nothing there that can’t wait.

I would rather scroll through Facebook posts I have no interest in than do something productive. I feel anxious if I’m cut off from any of my distractions.

It’s not a fun way to live. It is an addiction, and I’m having a hard time breaking it. I’d go cold-turkey off of social media, but my job doesn’t currently allow for that.

So I guess I fight it. I put the phone away when I’m at home, and hope my husband isn’t trying to text me when I can’t hear it. I turn the internet connection off when I’m working, even though I find word sprints with friends motivating. I’ll set timers for tasks, and try to focus.

Maybe I blog less, because that’s the work I’m able to do when the kids are home.

I will *gulp* try to focus on playing with the kids.

I’m not a bad mom, but I really hate playing trucks. :/

 

Health

Yeah. Okay. I did better in 2014 than in 2013 or any year before that. Even in the winter, I got the dog out for regular walks when I was able. My bad back (and newly developed hip pain–yes, I am eighty years old, thanks for asking) made that impossible for weeks on end, but I always got back to it.

I can do better. This year I’m going to start waking up earlier to do yoga or pilates in the morning (the only things I can think of that don’t get me all sweaty. I hate sweating). I wake early anyway and generally spend 30 minutes in bed before I get up. That’s another bad habit I need to break.

Also… Ugh, I hate to think about it, but I’m going to go to the doctor. It’s been *mumble mumble* years since I saw anyone about my headaches. Back then, there wasn’t much they could do for me. My brain scan showed nothing (ba-dump-PSSSHT!), and migraine medications knock me out far more than is acceptable for someone who’s responsible for small children.

So it’s Advil, tea, naps, and not much fun.

But maybe there’s something they can do now. New drugs, or better yet, some suggestion on things in my life I can change as a preventive measure.

As long as it’s not cutting out caffeine, we’re cool. I’m scared that someone will suggest cutting something else out of my diet, but I’ll try almost anything.

I should also ask about why it frequently feels like there’s ground-up glass in my right hip, because that’s an almost-literal pain in the ass.

 

Moving

Yeah, I have to put this one in this year. My husband has a good job, but it does mean we have to move every 3-5 years. This spring will mark three years here, and it’s half-past time to scoot. We’re still waiting to hear where they’re sending us (NOT a fun wait), but it’s going to happen.

When the time comes, I’m going to be more organized about packing. I’m not going to freak out if we have to buy our first house**. Above all… I’m going to try to make friends.

After almost three years here, I have two local friends (for reasons not worth going into here). In our next community I’m going to reach out more to neighbours, get involved at the school… anything else will depend on where we are, but I’m going to make an effort.

It’s a start.

 

So tell me: What are your grand plans for this year? Any suggestions on learning to focus (without drugs that inhibit creativity, please!)? What’s on your reading list for the year?

 

 

 

*But hey, whatever floats your boat. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, have fun with that!

**Yes, I am. I totally am. Hold me.


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