Scaling Back on Some Things

The process of dropping out of the rat race has turned out to involve much more than simply picking projects I’m most interested in. Originally, I thought that was all I had to do. But once I did that, then another thing popped up and then another. So I’m now having to sort through a lot of things I’ve been doing. I need to figure out what I’ll keep doing and what I’ll drop. If I’m going to truly embrace this notion of writing for passion, that changes the entire landscape for me as an author.

All I can say is that I never imagined 2018 would be the year I’d go back to square one and re-evalute everything I’m doing and why.

follow passion stop following crowd

ID 25636038 © Harishmarnad | Dreamstime.com

My first priority is to write what I’m passionate about.

I had to sit down and ask myself a hard question. The question was, “How do I want to spend my time?”

The answer, though relatively simple, turned out to be, “I want to spend my time writing books I’m passionate about.” That’s it. That’s all I wanted when I got started in this writing thing. I didn’t think about marketing. I didn’t think about writing stories others wanted to read (aka “writing to market”). I didn’t think about trying to please people who weren’t happy with my books. I hadn’t given thoughts to book reviews. All I did was write the story that was burning within me to get down on paper.

So that is where I need to start. And that has ended up with a surprising domino effect.

My second priority is to put aside any story ideas that I’m not most passionate about writing.

Time is a limited resource. As much as I’d like to be able to do more, I really can’t. I have to eat, sleep, spend time with family and friends, etc. I can’t be at the computer 24/7. I need to let my mind have breaks. I need days off. If I don’t do these things, I will seriously burnout, and if that happens, I’ll probably be unable to write for a very long time. I don’t want that to happen.

I know people have been after me to write Hugh and Vivian’s story and also Shane’s Deal, but those stories are not what I’m passionate about. At least not at this time. I wish I had never even mentioned them. Since my publisher has Patty’s Gamble, I can’t go back and take out that thing about Shane’s Gamble. It’s stuck there. So is every other project I talked about at one point or another in a blog post or in a Facebook/Twitter post somewhere.

At any one time, a lot of ideas are swimming in my head. But, due to time, I can’t pick them all. I have to choose. In this case, I have to ask myself, “If I were to die next year, what books would I want to get into the world?” And that is the basis of how I make the decision on what I’m most passionate about.

People have said there’s something missing in my stories that used to be there. Well, I suspect that’s the passion for the story. I’ve been writing to market. I haven’t been taking risks or going against the tide. I haven’t been delving into the deeper parts of the human experience like I used to. I’ve been staying on this safe little road that was well-lit. I could see where I was going. While that offered safety, it was slowly draining my creativity. It was robbing me of the risk. There’s a certain thrill in driving (aka writing) into the dark where you can’t see where you’re going. I used to do that all the time. So I’ve just taken all of my stories off the lit part of the road. Now I’m in uncharted territory again. And writing over the past week has been more fun than I’ve had in a while.

Will people like this change? I have no idea. But if I keep going down the safe road, my stories will end up sounding the same, and I really don’t want that. I want to write better than I did before. I want to go down roads I haven’t been down yet. And the only way I’ll do that is if I pick stories based on how passionate I am about writing them.

My third priority was to cut out things that hinder my writing time.

Since I am putting time in for better eating, more exercise, more time with family and friends, and days off, I need to be smarter about how I spend my time. Part of this is removing things that cause me unnecessary stress.

Wattpad was the thing I decided to let go (at least as a writer).  I might stick around to read the stuff my authors friends have over there. I do want to support them, and to do that, I need time to read their stuff.  Wattpad is high stress for me. I’m an introvert. I need lots of quiet time. In order to be successful on Wattpad, you need to engage with other Wattpad users. I mean, seriously engage with them. You have to leave comments on their comments, read their works, comment on their works, mention you have a book up, and on and on it goes. I couldn’t keep it all straight. And that drains me of my energy. I think other introverts get what I’m saying, but extroverts probably think I’m nuts. But for my sanity, I had to let it go even though I met some great people over there. That was a sad thing for me to do, but I know it had to be done.

I won’t be doing anything else on You Tube, at least for the time being. Not that I was uploading more videos on You Tube anyway, but I actually had made a list of future videos to make. I had even gotten some videos in and was planning to upload them. But after all this, I better not. I need to scale back and find my focus again. Maybe someday I might actually have the time and inclination to dive back in? But for now, it’s going to stay as static as it’s been for over a year.

I’m not reviewing any more books. Believe it or not, reviewing books stresses me out. I know, I know. It’s silly. It’s just a review. But I have a terrible time knowing what to say in reviews. It’s even worse than writing my own book descriptions. I can’t just say, “I like the book.” I have to say “why”.  And that takes me, on average, two to three days to figure out. Then I wonder if the review sounded stilted because when I write it, I feel like it is.

I’m sure there will be other decisions that will pop up, but so far, these are the main three things I’ve decided to cut from my life in an attempt to clear time out to do my best work.

End Note

If anyone thinks this is easy to do, it’s not. It’s easier to sound brave than it is to feel it. I worry that this is going to be the end of my writing career. I’m pretty much throwing away the advice of authors and marketers who make more in 2-3 months than I do in a year. There is a lot of apprehension in veering off into a different direction. But I’m reminded of a saying that was on the wall of my Psychology teacher’s classroom in high school that still inspires me to this day. “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” (This quote was by Eddie Rickenbacker.)

I’m just going to move on ahead and focus on my writing. I know if I do that, the fears I have will grow smaller because my joy for my work will get bigger.

 

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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13 Responses to Scaling Back on Some Things

  1. Debra says:

    I don’t think fans take in consideration what it take to write a story. They just want the next and the next, perhaps not thinking about what it takes out of the author. I want a story that the author is passionate about. If that means I have to wait for the story to come to the storyteller- then so be it. Only you know what to write and when to write it. Please by all means take the time, elimate the “noise” that you need too..I, for one, am willing to wait for the story that calls to you to be written rather than what the mainstream demands.

    • I appreciate that so much, Debra. 🙂 It makes me feel better to know some people are willing to wait for a story. My big goal now is to get better at storytelling. My focus shouldn’t have been on the marketing side. I realize that now. It’s easier to see things in hindsight. I was reading a couple of books and blog posts from inspiring writers who talk about writing books that aren’t following any trends. These writers are ones that have been writing for decades, and I’d like to do that. I want to be writing fresh and new stories many years from now. I want each one to be better than the last. I’m definitely going to cut out that noise from my life. I think it does more harm than good in the long run, at least it did for me.

      I will say one thing, I’m more excited about writing than I’ve been in a long time. It feels good to finally have my priorities in order.

  2. Mary McCall says:

    The pressure comes mostly from the publishing community and associated writers, I’m guessing, about what and how to write the next story. Formulaic patterns of writing are apparent to the reader, and I can’t imagine a reader saying, ” This was great- use that same template, insert new names and scenery, and churn- out- another- one just- like- the- other- one.” Maybe, I have said, This story begs to have a sequel,” when I should really say, “I loved this story, hated that it ended, and wish for another one!” I’ll be careful, next time! I agree with the above commenter. When you love the story and characters, I do too. I can tell when you’ve had fun writing the story. When you write another, in your own time, it will be so great. I love your books, and will wait for the next. Wishing you blessings and success in all your roles in life. Each role demands things of you- let writing be your fun, imaginative respite from all the others!

    • Yes! The pressure is from the publishing community and other writers. There’s so much pressure for writers to make so much money or hit a certain ranking on Amazon. It’s crazy. I got caught up in the nonsense, and I started following advice I shouldn’t have. Looking back, I can see that it was boxing me into a corner. I was never a “boxed in” kind of writer to begin with. I should have went with my gut and stayed out of it. I think when you’re in writing communities and you hear about writers who are making tons of money, you start to wonder, “What am I doing wrong?” Then you start changing things you’ve been doing all along to fit what is working for others. It finally dawned on me that I’m not everyone else. I’m me. My path isn’t their path.

      I do like knowing what books you liked reading because it helps me know what I did right. I didn’t really feel pressure from you or other readers to write a certain book. I did worry that I would disappoint people if I didn’t write a sequel, and I’d struggle to find a plot that fit the characters. I would love to write about Vivian and Hugh, and I am interested in Shane’s story. There are a lot of characters I want to write about. I just can’t find a plot that makes me excited about writing their stories. And it’s hard for me to admit that because I feel like I’m letting you and others down. I don’t like letting people down. I just need to realize that the brain needs time to cook over time ideas before it’s ready.

      I think the hardest thing is admitting I have limitations, and I need to work within those limitations. 🙂

      Thank you, Mary! You’re such a blessing in my life!!

  3. Susan Adams says:

    I would love to read Shane’s Deal
    But yes I agree you need to be into the story you are writing
    I love what you write and will keep reading your stories
    If you ever write it his story will be great but just know I will keep reading your books
    Thank you

    • I’m sure some day Shane’s Deal will come to me. I have a vague sketch for a beginning, but I need more of a springboard to go on. The beginning isn’t taking me to a plot I want to dive into. The brain is always working. I know one day, I’ll have the “ah ah!” moment. 🙂

      Thanks for sticking with me! That really does mean a lot to me.

  4. She’s got it! By George, I think she’s got it!

    Also, I’m guessing you’re not going to release that post based on that video I showed you anytime soon?

  5. Cindy says:

    Congratulations! Stick to with what you’re passionate about. I love your books, especially Dave and Mary’s stories.

    • Thanks, Cindy!

      Dave and Mary are one of my favorites. That couple was one of the easiest to write. From the moment I started both books, it was easy to get emotionally connected to them. Characters like that tend to be my favorites.

  6. Bravo! You have really found your passion again. I’m so happy for you. You are inspiring me to look at some things. For one, I’ve been spending so much time editing for clients that I’ve let myself stop writing. You’ve made me want to do that again. I can carve out the time if I need to. “Busy” was just an excuse for the fear I have of putting out the next book.

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who hates to review! I think writers have a harder time writing a review than others do. I don’t know exactly why. And with Amazon pulling down reviews if they think you “know” the author, it’s not worth it anymore. I think we need to leave the reviewing to readers who AREN’T writers.

    • Yeah, I feel like I did back in 2009 when I started publishing my own books. I remember feeling free and excited. I didn’t realize I had lost that somewhere along the way.

      Fear is hard to overcome. I know it won’t be easy. If you ever need to vent or just talk, you know where to find me.

      Reviews are hard to do. You’re right. Readers are better off doing them. I hope Amazon stops punishing readers for leaving reviews. This is the digital age, and social media is a big part of the people’s lives. Of course, these people will end up connecting, and some will be authors and readers. I don’t know why that is something to punish.

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