Back in the day, my brother had a Stretch Armstrong doll that we loved as kids. He’d yank that poor guy one way and I’d pull him the other way until we s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d him as far as we could. We thought it was hysterical and spent hours torturing playing with him.
Sometimes, I feel like Stretch Armstrong. Writers must do so much more today than place words on a page in the correct order. Whether you’re traditionally published or indie, you must….
Be a writer, editor, researcher, marketer, query-er, website builder, blogger, networker, social media guru, and speaker.
Your To Do list feels never ending. No wonder you’re exhausted.
Yes, writings tugs you in many, different directions, but here’s what I’ve learned in my twenty years at this. Especially, since 2013 when my literary agent left publishing and I decided to take control of my career and go indie.
1. Writing is Your #1 Responsibility
Everything else in your writing career is secondary. If you’re interested in publication, it doesn’t matter if you have 5,000 followers on Facebook if you aren’t writing. Yes, an author platform is paramount, but writing is where you need to spend most of your time. Quality is king. Creating great books, poems, short stories, screenplays — wherever the words are leading you.
2. Chill Out
Don’t misunderstand me, all those aspects in your career are vitally important, but if you’re stressed out, then it only hurts the situation. You’ll be less productive, more irritable, which makes you less successful. It’s bass-ackwards. Plus, your family wants to smack you around for playing the tortured artiste.
There’s proof saying social media presence doesn’t always translate to book sales. Read 3 Myths about Social Media for Authors by Tim Grahl. For years, Tim masterminded book launches for authors. Once, he had five clients on the New York Times’ Best Seller’s list at once. The man knows his stuff.
3. Take Small Steps
This is my mantra. Small steps are the key to success and the only way to retain your sanity. It’s impossible to do it all at once. There’s only so many hours in a day. If you try to do too much too soon, fear can overwhelm you and shut you down. Plus, you’ll lose your ever-lovin’-gob-stoppin’ mind. Writer’s burn-out ain’t pretty, folks.
While my copy editor read Pennies from Burger Heaven for the final polish, I researched my top three graphic- designers choices to find the one to create my book cover. I also reviewed the scads of articles and videos I’d accumulated about publishing. I couldn’t focus on those tasks earlier.
Because I was writing.
Bend but Don’t Break
The key is balance. Those who know me well are laughing right now, because I can be an extreme personality. That’s why I’m sharing this with you. I’ve been that broken, burnt-out writer, so as I moved into the new phase of my career as published author, I wanted to learn from my past. I wanted to continue to grow as a writer, as I juggled my many responsibilities.
Wherever you are on your journey, do the same. Be like Stretch Armstrong and bend, but don’t break.