If you read my June post, you know I’ve been struggling with burnout, and now also struggling to understand what it is and how to overcome it. In July, I talked about one of my favorite topics – hitting the Restart button. That seemed a timely topic in the middle of the year and in the middle of the burnout problem.
Today I did some freewriting first thing in the morning to ask myself some questions. Mostly, and specifically, what do I like to write?
I was listening to Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck in one of their free classes, I think the Dream Killers episode, and Rachel said you have to know what you like to write. Or what you like to write about. If you like writing blogs and articles and short stories, but hate writing 50,000-word novels, don’t write novels! If you love writing 100,000-word epic fantasy books but hate writing blogs, don’t write blogs!
And it made me wonder if the reason I rarely post to my blog is because I don’t actually like blogging, or if it’s something else. Maybe I don’t like having to create a super interesting and helpful piece for others that doesn’t resonate for me when I write it. (That would be weird if it were true because I love helping people!) Maybe I need to write blog posts that are more for me, things I find more interesting despite whether I think others will also find it interesting.
That may be part of it, but I really think it’s more the pressure I put on myself – create an interesting post that readers will love, or don’t bother writing anything at all. No wonder I’ve gotten it into my head that I don’t like blogging.
Funny, this is a very similar problem to the bigger one over the last several months when I was trying to decide if I still liked to write books. Then I went to RWA in July and I seemed to come alive during the writing sprints at the start and end of each day! I started writing on a book idea, Abra Cadaver, just for the fun of it with no idea when I would work it into my production schedule. I had a blast! And I wrote a ton! I already have an outline for a trilogy. 😀
So how can I find a similar burst of enthusiasm for blogging? Or how can I find out if I do or don’t enjoy blogging under the right circumstances? (And what are those magic circumstances?)
Are you struggling with not knowing if you even like to write? Blogs or books? In my mind, most writers are not struggling with this. This is my own personal problem that is a result of my own personal burnout. So my mind said this is a waste of time and energy and blogging space to even put it into words.
But what if I’m wrong and I’m not being self-centered and someone out there needs me to write this? Maybe you?
When I first woke up this morning, I read my Bible, Matthew 17. I was thinking about how interesting it was that Peter said, of course my master pays the temple tax, and then he walked back to where they were staying and before he could speak, Jesus brought up the subject in a roundabout way. But it’s Peter’s walk back that I was focused on.
What was Peter thinking? Was he thinking that he’d spoken too quickly again? Was he wondering if he was right, or maybe he’d answered the priest incorrectly? Was he trying to convince himself of one way of thinking or another? Was he building an argument to convince Jesus of a particular way of thinking?
And then Jesus not only asks him a question that directly gives Peter the answer to the question before Peter can even tell Jesus what happened, but we find out God is already providing for the physical need as well. Go fish, Jesus says, and in the first fish will be money enough to pay for your tax and mine.
I usually read that part and think, gross, gutting a fish would be so gross to me. But today I read it and thought, hey, that’s like God telling me to go write something or create a new set of ads for my books and the money that would come in would be the exact amount for some need I have.
That I could do!
This blog post is already too long, too long-winded, too personal, and I’m still not sure if I should post it because someone might find it helpful, or if I should relegate it to the private journaling area, forever hidden. (Burnout apparently brings out all my insecurities!)
See? It’s the pressure to create the perfect post, the one that is helpful, the right length, with content doesn’t annoy anyone if they don’t fit in the target audience.
The Pressure Monster is telling me to stop, don’t post this, don’t even write blog posts anymore. (Even though I have three blogs! All neglected, but important to me.) Heck, the Pressure Monster says, it would be far safer for you and far better for everyone else if you just stopped writing altogether.
I’m posting this anyway. Without taking time to find the perfect pictures to post with it, or try to create SEO-worthy subheadings. It’s my way to defeat the monster.
What is the Pressure Monster attacking you about? What are you not writing or not doing because the pressure to do it “right” is too much? Maybe some of it doesn’t need to be done or written at all! Maybe you’ll decide some of it is important enough to do even if you don’t do it “perfectly” this time.
Either choice can be a good one, so choose! I hope this post helps you defeat the Pressure Monster, too. 😀
I had planned to have completed the third post in my “How to Maximize the SEO Potential of your Website Images” this month, but things got a bit derailed for me when my mom’s health took a turn.
Instead, I found myself sitting in her nursing home room with lots of family and nurses coming and going at all hours. Even though I lugged my backpack back and forth, I never pulled out my laptop. I couldn’t write. No quiet, no time, and my mind was just mush.
How did I come up with this post, then?
I rented a car to drive home and had over 6 hours by myself. So I made good use of the time with my handy voice recorder in my Notes APP where I preceded to share my thoughts about all that happened.
I’d talk until I had nothing, then turn up the radio and sing a song. Then more would pop in my head and I’d talk some more. There was a lot. I hope to edit it and share it some day, but right now it’s pretty raw.
And once I got all my thoughts about my ailing parent and all that comes with this chapter of my life expended, my mind started to open up on my work in progress, and blog posts, and ideas for social media, and….I think you get the idea.
Remember, I had six hours.
And I probably could’ve used more.
It was green. And small. And quite cute. It made me smile, which was good because I needed to balance out the tears that kept flowing every time I thought about my mom and all that transpired.
The rental car guy even joked that no one should hit me because they couldn’t see me.
I found myself wanting to have good driving behavior because I was the only green car on the road.
I stood out.
When I stopped for a snack, I smiled. Whenever I changed lanes, I smiled. When I stopped for gas….yep, I smiled.
I find a smile leads to a grateful heart. And I am immensely grateful to have had my mom in my life for as long as I did. Yes, my mom is no longer with us, her body no longer mangled and in pain. And she is finally reunited with Jesus and my dad. And that makes me grateful, which makes me smile. Or maybe it’s the other way around. It makes me smile and then I feel grateful. Both ways work for me.
I wanted to share a poem I wrote last year in her honor. It’s all written in one syllable words, which was quite fun to put together.
To be a mom is hard work. More than I thought it would be.
It was not till I was in the role, did I know by how much.
The trials. The hurt I take on for my child. The times I have to stay strong.
Now that I know, I want to say thank you to my mom.
For all she did. For all she gave. For the love she gave me.
Her words were kind, she backed me up when I had tough days.
She taught me how to read my bible and pray.
Her love meant more than just words to me.
She poured her heart and life into all I did.
She had pluck, pep and punch. She shared in my joys and woes.
She was there for me through it all.
She told me I made her proud to be my mom.
She held my hand. She hugged me and told me she loved me. I didn’t doubt it one bit. I knew.
My mom did cool things. She was fun. She showed up to all my acts and cheered me on.
I was in awe of her and looked to be like her when I grew up.
I hope I am.
She told me she loved me, hugged me, prayed with me.
She is my mom and I love her. And I hope she knows how much I thank her each day.
Thank you, Mom
Love you Mom.
Since it’s early July, I’ve been thinking about and talking about and podcasting about hitting the Restart button. How have we been getting on with the writing goals we decided upon six months ago?
I know that I am way off from what I expected. Moving to another country will do that to you! So I’ve been thinking about how I want to adjust the year to finish with strong, achievable goals. I did a live broadcast presentation for the Yosemite Romance Writers in May, and decided to use the recording for a mid-year podcast. Here’s the link to the audio, and here’s the embedded video.
Right after I posted that episode, it occurred to me that it might be a good time for a personal goal review as well. When I started thinking about that for myself, I realized I had some changes to make in my life if I wanted to accomplish my new/biggest goal for the year – recovering from burnout.
Here is the link to the audio. And here is the video with my self-discovery. 😉
I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from people about the episodes where I’ve talked about my firsthand experience with burnout. (Here’s the embarrassingly honest look at my journey in audio and in video.) Now that I see how much it affects other people as well, I’m going to bring on more guests to talk about how to recover and how to avoid it. I hope my willingness to talk about both burnout and restarting helps others – you included! 😀
I think I’m obsessed with editing.
I’ve revised my novel so many times it feels different than what I started with. Maybe that’s a good thing. But sometimes I find that I’m my harshest critic and at night, when I most want to rest, I turn into a berserk editor.
Last night I dreamed I was in a commercial demonstrating a slicing and dicing machine.
I was chopping up words, not food.
The previous night I saw myself seated behind a desk with a plaque that read, ‘Veronica Jorge, Editor, You imagine it, we print it.’ A distinguished looking gentleman cringed before me, chewing on his thick mustache and nervously wiping his spectacles with a white starched handkerchief. My contorted face ridiculed his manuscript.
“O.K. bud, let me get this straight. You’ve got an orphan girl; lonely, bored, misunderstood. She gets whooshed up into a tornado and winds up in a magical realm where they’re ready to worship her. And all she wants to do is go back to her dreary life on a dilapidated farm? You just set up your plot to fail!
Try a different spin. This chick; Dorothy, right? Have her use her powers to control the munchkins then march them into Oz and take out the Wizard. She rules, hooks up with the scarecrow and they have some off- the -wall kids.
Now, you’ve got a story!”
In the third nightmare, I sat behind the editor desk again. This time the plaque read, ‘Home Girl Publications, You dish it out, we can take it.’
I tore into the lovely author. My words curdled her milky complexion.
“No way readers gonna connect or sympathize with these March girls puttin’ on plays, gawkin’ at the lanky shorty next door and mopin’ after poor ole daddy gone off to war.
We got sisters out there dealin’ with real-life issues. Some got husbands serving in Afghanistan or Iraq. Others are strugglin’ as single moms with wannabe men and make-believe daddies sweatin’ ‘em. All of them doin’ it for theirselves; holdin’ down two, sometimes three, jobs just to make ends meet and put food on the table for the kids.
You gotsta keep it real, honey. Nameen?”
I wake each time, heart pounding and stressed over getting my novel perfect, and I ask myself whether I should continue writing.
The answer is always a resounding, “Yes”, because the story is the story of me and I must write it, if only just for me. Maybe then the nightmares will cease because it seems that my peace is contained in my novel’s completion.
See you next time on October 22nd.
Manager, Educator, and former High School Social Studies teacher, Veronica credits her love of history to the potpourri of cultures that make up her own life and to her upbringing in diverse Brooklyn, New York. Her genres of choice are Historical Fiction where she always makes new discoveries and Children’s Picture Books because there are so many wonderful worlds yet to be imagined and visited. She currently resides in Macungie, PA.
Are you a plotter? One who fills up twenty or thirty pages, sometimes more, with scenes, settings, motivation, goals, conflict and character profiles before you can sit down and write the first chapter?
Or are you a pantser? Someone who gets an idea, makes a short list of ideas on one page and then sits down and starts to write, letting the story tell itself and unfold before your very eyes?
Some of you already know you’re a plotter and you follow a strict routine that helps you write pages and pages without too much trouble. While a synopsis is great for getting an editor or publisher to gain interest in your story, it can also be a great tool as a guide for your manuscript. It’s much shorter than the thirty to fifty pages of story plotting but with less detail. Some writers need more and some less, but whatever method you use, it has to be right for you or you’ll never finish any story. You’ll try many different methods before finding a style of writing that’s a perfect fit and will carry you through many manuscripts. I tried many many plotting methods in my search for a writing system that fit me.
A pantser, like some writers I know, still has some idea of the beginning, middle, and the end of the story to be able to tell it. I think most writer’s fall into one of these categories but many don’t. I fall somewhere in between where my plotting is kept to a minimum of one to two pages. I also write my synopsis as I go, working out some of the characters’ external conflicts as my characters interact.
Writers are creative, unique individuals who will find what works for them and employ whatever means they need to make it happen. A muse is all and good and well, but a beginning writer has no idea what that is. Or even which genre their writing style falls into. So we read everything we can in many genres. For example, we read dozens of books on craft, we attend multitudes of workshops and online classes, sometimes so many that we lose count, and we fill small notebooks with our notes. Only to find that where we fit isn’t such a great mystery.
So we write, and we write, and we keep on writing. Because with every page we pen, every character we bring to life on the page, every heart we tug on, our writing becomes stronger, better. All of this is done with the purpose of finishing a novel someone will read and enjoy, and maybe even recommend.
A novel that will be critiqued and revised many times over. A novel that will change with every revision, every re-write, and every idea that pops into your head. A novel that will eventually make it to an editor or publisher’s desk and then most likely go through more revisions and re-writes, regardless of whether you’re a plotter or a pantser.
That’s not to say your story isn’t good, only that it can be better. Just like a good critique partner can help your story in it’s beginning stages, a good editor can help you polish your manuscript before it’s ready for publication. As long as people change, their tastes in books change. That means the industry is constantly changing. Editors and publishing needs will change to keep up with current trends and the only way for an author to survive against the millions of books competing with theirs, is to write the best book they can – straight from the heart. So whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, whether you’re new to the world of writing or have written thirty books or more, you’ll never stop learning. Because when it comes down to it, we all want our romance book to take the reader on an emotional trip through our characters. To feel the rush of falling in love all over again.
So plot to your hearts content, or pants the story of your heart, because in this complicated time our world is in, everyone wants and needs some spiritual uplifting and lots of happily ever afters.
The autumnal equinox is a celestial event that brings together harvest and celebration, symbolizes magick and transformation, and welcomes a balance of light and darkness. It’s a time when those who honor the changing seasons rest and reflect.
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