As We Go into the New Year (A Writer Post)

I came across this video today, and while it’s not about writing, it inspired me to think of ways to apply this to us as writers. πŸ˜€

1. Own less. Fewer possessions take up less energy and less time.

My writerly approach to this tip:

The more we try to do, the more we can get ourselves into trouble. We only have 24 hours in a day, and while it’s attractive to think about doing a whole list of things, it might not be realistic. This might be a good time to prioritize the things in your life. Even writers need time off from writing, publishing, and book promotion. In order to thrive in this environment long term, you have to get a proper balance. You need time for rest. You need time to eat well and exercise. You need time with family and friends. You need time for other interests. Maybe you even need time to work.

First of all, what are your goals? Second, what things do you do as a writer that gets you closer to your goals? Is there anything that ends up being a time suck? I can’t speak for other writers, but for me, my first goal is to write the next book because it’s what I enjoy doing the most and it’s my best marketing tool. (I don’t make as much money when I don’t publish a new book.) So writing is the priority. The biggest time suck for me is social media. In this case, the “possession” in my writing life is social media. By limiting my social media usage, I greatly improve my writing output.

I don’t know if that example resonates with anyone. Maybe there’s another area in your life that distracts you from the writerly goals you have. If so, can you eliminate it or limit it so that you can see more improvement toward reading those goals?

2. Watch less TV. (This includes You Tube, etc.)

Okay, this is just good advice in general. But here’s my writerly twist on it:

TV might provide inspiration to get your creative juices going. Writes often get inspiration from other creative sources. But I bet if we watched less of these things and focused more on writing the next book or maybe do a little more marketing, we’d get closer to our goals as writers. I like his approach to removing a small amount of TV. What would happen if you removed that TV viewing for an hour a week? What else could you be doing with that time? You know, it only takes an hour to write about 1,000 words if you can pull off 250 words every 15 minutes. There are 52 weeks in a year. You could write 52,000 words in one year simply by devoting an hour every week to writing instead of watching TV. Little changes can lead to big results.

3. Eat a healthier diet.

There’s not much of a writerly twist to put on this one. The better you eat, the better you’ll feel, and the better you feel, the better you’ll be for writing the next book and promoting it. I like the idea of adding a little change to the diet at a time.

4. Spend less money on unnecessary things.

My writerly twist:

Is there anything you’re spending money on as an author that isn’t giving you the results you want? Can you do something yourself instead? Can you barter services with someone? For example, I know someone who edits books in exchange for free covers. You don’t have to pay out for services if you can find a medium of exchange. You just need to be willing to put in the time to do the work for the other person.

Regarding marketing, tally up your return on investment. What are you doing to market your books? How long have you been doing these marketing strategies? How well are they paying out for you? I wouldn’t quit a certain marketing strategy right away. I’d give it about six months to a year to see if there’s a benefit to doing it. Writing is a long-term game. But if you’ve dedicated a serious amount of time and effort into something but aren’t seeing the results you’re looking for, then it may be time to call it quits.

5. Read more books.

My writerly thoughts:

I doubt most writers have a problem with reading books, but let’s say you are writing in a genre you’re not familiar with. Read the popular books in that genre. Figure out what those readers want. You can’t successfully tell a good story in a genre you’re not familiar with because you won’t know why readers love that particular genre. I hear of a lot of authors writing stuff they never read, and I don’t understand it. It’s always best to know what the expectations of your genre are. For example, these authors writing a love story where the main character dies or ends up breaking up with the other main character are missing the point of “romance”. I don’t care how many times these authors argue they wrote a romance. They did not write a romance. They wrote a love story. In romance, there is always a happy ending for the main characters. Always. This is a hard-and-fast rule for romance. If you miss this, you will piss off a lot of romance readers.

6. Become more generous.

My writerly thoughts:

In the video, he points out that the most fulfilled lives are those lived for others. I’m not saying you need to volunteer to do something for other writers all the time. Believe me, plenty of people will take advantage of your time and energy if you’re not careful. But there’s nothing wrong with sharing your knowledge with another writer, and there’s nothing wrong with lending encouragement if you can. Maybe an author is looking for a good pre-made cover site, and you happen to know of one. Or maybe someone is looking for a good editor, and you happen to know one. Why not speak up and let that writer know? This is where I think social media shines. The writing community is full of a lot of wonderful writers who will share their experience and knowledge with others. Be a part of it. And don’t just be someone who asks for information. Be willing to share it, too. We all do better when we help each other.

7. Ask more questions.

I don’t know where to go with this one from a writer’s perspective except maybe to ask yourself what plots work best for your interests and the characters you want to write about. If you love figuring out your characters outside of the story, maybe ask your characters questions in order to get to know them better. Oh, okay. Here’s a thought. πŸ˜€ Why not participate in writing groups? If you have a social media page, why not ask your readers questions to get know them better?

8. Complain less.

Talk about a hard one. πŸ˜‰

My writerly thoughts:

Maybe as an author, instead of complaining, look for solutions. Is there something you can change to make things better? Maybe you need to say no to something so you can say yes to more writing. What can you change to put you closer to your goals as a writer? Some things are out of our control. We can’t control the economy. We can’t control if readers want to read KU books or want to “wide” books. We can’t control who likes our books or the reviews that come in. We can market in ways to help boost our book’s exposure, but we can’t control who buys it. We can weigh the pros and cons of being in KU, wide, or both. We can weigh the pros and cons of writing to market or writing for passion. We can take a look at our marketing strategies and pinpoint what is working and what isn’t. Then we can take steps to go in the direction we want to end up. While I think there is a time and place to vent our frustrations, we could also focus some time and energy into what we can do to make things better.

9. Appreciate people important to you more.

My writerly twist:

Appreciate the process of writing the story more. Appreciate the journey you’re taking the characters on. Instead of thinking of the sales you hope to get, maybe spend more time simply enjoying the storytelling process. Get to know your characters. Savor each writing session you get to spend with them. When I tell non-writers that my characters feel like real people to me, they think I’m nuts, but I bet those of you who write understand exactly what I mean. It’s fun to get attached to the characters. It’s fun to learn who they are, and it’s fun to watch their story unfold. Appreciate the gift that writing is because it is a beautiful gift. Not everyone can tell a story.

10. Get more exercise.

I was wondering when he was going to bring this up. This piggybacks off of #3.

11. Pray more.

Writerly thought:

I didn’t expect this tangent from the video, but I guess the idea of taking quiet time out of the day would be the writerly aspect of this one. The creative mind flourishes on moments when we allow everything to go quiet around us. Too much going on all the time is probably bad for your health, too. It never hurts to rest.

12. Dream big.

Writerly thoughts:

Usually, people think of “more sales” in this area, but I’m going to go in a direction that is specific to writers who write for passion. How about this? When you write, don’t hold back. Dream big. Let the story take on whatever twist is best for it. As writers, we have a temptation to tone our books down to appease the people who might read them. That is what writing to market is all about, and it’s why I hate it. Writing to market prevents writers from being authentic because instead of being true to the vision you have for the story, you are writing a story with the reader’s vision in mind. While this might be a winning formula commercially, writing the story burning in our soul is a winning formula for our creativity.

Book sales rise and fall. Income is not consistent. This year, I made $20,000 less than I did last year. Back in 2015, this would have devastated me because I was focused on my sales. But back then, I wrote books where I was afraid to “dream big”. I didn’t follow the stories exactly the way I wanted them. I let the critic in the back of my mind tone some things down. Don’t get me wrong. I do like those stories. I even listen to some of them from time to time. But there is a huge difference in books I allowed to “go all the way” with my vision for the story and the books where I “held back” on some things. I no longer hold back. I give each and every story 100%. And I have never regretted writing those stories, nor do I ever wish I had done something in the story differently. Those books I wrote around the 2013-2017 time period when I was focus on the market aren’t making me much anymore. Each new book I have earns me the most money for the year. So the books I wrote in 2022 are earning more than the books written from 2013-2017. That’s why I’m always focused on writing the next story instead of spending a lot of time marketing. I would rather be writing the next book instead of marketing the older books anyway because writing is why I got into this gig. When you write for passion, your mindset is different from someone who write to market. I’m pretty sure someone writing to market is screaming, “Ruth, you NEED to market that backlist. Market hard.” I would rather write the next book. That’s where the fun is for me. So that’s what I do. Is there a trade-off? Yes. I am swapping marketing time and energy for writing. This is what makes me happy. And when I dream big for my stories, I am at my best as a writer. If dreaming big means more sales for you, then you should dream big in that area.

***

I want to get this post about before 2023 here in the US. Happy New Year’s, everyone! May we write our best books yet!

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to https://ruthannnordinsbooks.wordpress.com/.
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