Today I want to talk about how important it is to focus on the present and move on into the future.
We can get stuck in “yesterday” if we’re not careful.
The Trap of Regrets
If only I had done this. If only I had done that. This is the land of regret, and it serves no purpose. Sure, learn from the past. Things we failed out in our writing, publishing, and marketing can be great tools to help us do better next time. But you don’t want to get stuck in the past. There’s no point in gaining experience if you aren’t going to learn from it and do better next time.
This is why I don’t believe in going back and rewriting books that are already published. If you find a typo, go ahead and fix it. But if you keep going back and rewriting everything you write, you won’t have time to work on your current stories. Your fans will want your next book. I know you want to reach new fans, but you can do that with your future stories just as well as you can with past ones. Plus, the more books you have, the better your chances are of being discovered and of making money.
The Importance of Grieving
Now, another case of looking back into the past is the tendency to compare our sales from yesterday to how they’re doing today. I don’t know about anyone else, but once Kindle Unlimited came, my income dropped by 50%. Then there was the pages read thing that popped up in Kindle Unlimited, and my income dropped by 60%. I didn’t go into Kindle Unlimited, and authors who didn’t go into the program were punished. I wasn’t surprised when it happened, but I hadn’t expected the drop to happen so quickly.
I gave myself permission to feel bummed out over this, but I wanted to put a cap on how much time I was going to let myself grieve the loss in income. I didn’t want to get stuck in “yesterday”, but I also knew in order to move forward I had to go through the dark period of mourning. Denying it was only going to delay the process. So I gathered a bunch of sad songs and played them while I wrote my works in progress. Some days were easier than others. Sometimes I wrote while crying. Sometimes I went for a walk. I even decided not to take a trip because I wasn’t in the mood to be social.
Once I gave myself permission to go through the grieving process, I found it a lot easier to take comfort in writing. Writing became the one thing I could do that made me feel better. It took about two months to work through all the stages in the grieving process. Getting over a major blow like that doesn’t happen right away. But by going into the grieving process I had left yesterday in the past and moved forward. Some days I felt like I had started at the beginning. It wasn’t easy. It never is. But there came a day when I was writing and actually found comfort in the sad songs. Then another day came when I was in the mood for an upbeat song. Then I went back to the sad songs. It was a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. The day did come when I had finally accepted where I was at, and I was at peace with everything.
What I learned from that experience is that income does not always go up. I think this is a myth we’re led to believe. The more books = you’re guaranteed to make more money. Because everything just snowballs. No. Not really. I’m writing more books this year, and my income is still less by 60%. But will staying the past solve anything? No.
The best way to deal with things is by moving forward. That might mean changing the way you’re doing things. Sometimes you have to shift to another plan. Sometimes you stay the course. Each situation is going to be different. All you can do is weigh the pros and cons of each decision and hope you make the right one. And if it turns out you made a mistake, re-evaluate everything, and make the best decision you can. We’re all human. We’re prone to mistakes. The key is not to get stuck in them.