I admit it: I was lazy this weekend. I decided to watch a movie instead of working. I felt guilty all day until I got home today and realized that while I was resting on my laurels (among other parts) on Sunday, the posse over at Awesome Gang retweeted me. It made my day! As indies, we all need to help each other out sometimes!
I go on publicity binges – posting, tracking, tweeting, creating new content, then posting, tracking, tweeting all over again. Then I see a jump in sales and I think “Great! It’s working!” and I work like a woman possessed on my next release or short story in between posts, tweets, tracking, etc.. All of a sudden I hit a day when it just seems like so much self-aggrandizement and frantic activity that I can’t bear to do it for another minute.
It’s in these dark hours of (mental) exhaustion that I just want to crawl onto the couch and read someone else’s work. The one thing being an indie has taught me is that those moments of blissful peace are necessary to fuel my creativity. It’s stressful to live with the little voice in my head “Did my scheduled posts work? Did I put the links on that post?” and all of the other random thoughts that pop in while I’m trying to live my life.
That’s the crux of the matter: I have a life. I have a full-time job. I have a family. I have a small dog. I have friends. I also have a part-time job (writing) that I’m building into a business and that business reqires me to be creative and consistent.
The last time I hit that wall – the one between “I love doing this so much” and “I’m closing my Twitter account” – I decided to approach things differently. Instead of working like a woman possessed on my next release while promoting, I broke it down into two separate tasks. Write. Publicize. When I’m not feeling particularly inspired, I build my tweets and posts and save them or schedule them to post at specific times. When I can’t form a sentence, I work on my art for advertising sales & promos – then I save them or schedule them. Trying to do it all at once just saps my energy and creativity. If my posts are scheduled, I can focus on my next project. This has made me more focused as a writer and it’s enabled me to keep my online presence consistent.
When I feel like I’m at the end of my rope, I curl onto the couch (with the small dog) and read someone else’s work. Those breaks enable me to do recharge enough so I can build my business. It’s time I carve out for me, without the pressure of constantly feeling like I must do more. Maintaining momentum is important, but maintaining sanity is even more critical.
Although I primarily write fantasy, there’s a great deal of research which goes into the creation of my stories. I suppose I could simply make up the entire thing, but I love legends and mythology so I actually enjoy the research. That research has given me new ideas and taken my characters to places I couldn’t have imagined!
Along with a pretty extensive collection of legends, I admit I’m addicted to Wikipedia. While I do look up specific objects on that site, I also click on the sources below the articles. It is through these external links that I have found on-line library collections of 16th century illuminated manuscripts and a little known compilation of Native American legends. Being a writer when there’s such a vast wealth of knowledge available is exhilarating.
The creation of magical powers is another part of my stories, and I spent hours developing it for my first book and more time increasing my knowledge since then. I have read books on magic and herbal healing, mostly those written by modern practitioners of the craft – and while I’m not a witch – as an author, I like to have some basis in reality for my stories. Many cultures have a strong tradition of herbal and crystal healing and those areas find their way into my work as well. I have expanded on those resources to develop my own brand of magic. I like spending a few moments flipping through my dictionaries of healing herbs and crystals to get some inspirtaion for my stories. Sometimes, I write my characters into impossible situations that I have no solution for – a few flips through one of my resources sometimes turns up the perfect answer or at least gives me a grain of knowledge that I can expand into a viable solution.
All of the research gets filed into my brain, or scribbled onto index cards, or typed into documents that lurk on my computer. That process makes writing as much about learning as about creating a story. I think that’s the thing that keeps my reader interested – there’s really something to learn hidden in my stories. I know the research and learning is what keeps me interested as a writer – there’s so much out there that I feel like I’ll never run out of fuel for my stories.