In a world of “instant gratification” and fast-paced production (at least in the industry I want to enter ie: self-publishing and I’m sure many other creative fields) I always feel like I’m behind the curve, or I just missed the train, or I’m running at the back of the crowd.
There are self-published authors releasing a book a month. Or even faster. And not just bite-sized novellas like I’m working on. These are full on 50,000+ word novels. What kind of crazy?
Over the past three years, I’ve heard dozens of stories related to fast writing. Faster output. Playing Amazon’s algorithms like an electric guitar. It felt like the ultimate goal, to push myself faster and faster, to find that audience with a snap of my fingers.
I believed this was the norm. That to make it, you had to put out a book a month, to put out free short stories every quarter, to also connect with fans on every social media platform out there using Buffer or Hootsuite.
I wasn’t writing fast enough. Not for the industry or my twisted delusions of what was required to be a full-time self-published author.
I’ve been obsessing over making several YouTube series as well with a schedule that, I realized now looking back, would have killed me.
Somehow I expected myself to write at minimum 10,000 words a week while also scripting videos, editing said videos, and keeping up with social media posts that would be scheduled and planned, not organically posted.
Glad I gave that up. Seriously. Two weeks ago I think I hit the ceiling of what my brain could handle.
And then… I gave up that book-a-month idea.
Then my entire book series all together.
For almost two weeks. Just nothing. No creation. No outlining. No calendars.
I felt…good. Like suddenly I could think clearly. There wasn’t this looming to-do list clouding my head. No arbitrary deadlines spiraling my body into tense stress-induced stomach aches, headaches, numbness, or panic attacks.
A big change was I slept. I kept to a sleep schedule without thinking about it, without wondering how many hours I was getting a night. I felt tired. So I laid down. And fell asleep pretty quickly.
I started listening to different triggers in my body. I’m trying to go full vegan again after letting myself slip on cheese or some sort of dairy product all this year. And actually feeling how my body deals with dairy, how my stomach tenses around it, was a big observation. I’ve noticed it before, but I wasn’t specifically looking for it before because, let’s face it, I’m addicted to cheese. I wasn’t looking to stop eating it any time soon. But now? Hoo boy. I’m done.
Drinking water became a priority. I forgot my giant 1.4 liter bottle today (face palm) but my goal is to drink at least one full bottle a day. My body’s reaction was nearly immediate upon starting to drink that much a day. Sleeping deeper. Skin not as dry. Appetite normalizing.
I basically just took a step back and focused on ground zero. Because if the body isn’t healthy, how can I expect the mind to be healthy? My thoughts, my feelings, my decisions – it all stems from one place.
I researched vegan diets and workout programs. I wrote in my journal almost every day.
And then I just sort of… slipped back into creating. Not on a schedule and not the same projects overall, but still…creating.
I focused on refining my first draft of my next book. A lot of the world building got narrowed down to the important aspects and then I began refining and sanding those pieces down to their smoothest.
I started two courses on how to use GameMaker Studio 2 to build an RPG and also a platformer game.
My diet fell this past weekend, but tonight I’m going grocery shopping and it’s all healthy vegan goodness.
And no planner in sight.
I’m starting my new workout regimen tonight too. Because I want too. It feels weird, but natural at the same time. I’m not forcing the issue with planners, bullet journals, or calendars stuck up on my walls in all over my bag.
(Oh, that was another thing. I cleaned out my bag of notebooks and pens and then my purse too. Slowly starting the purge of all things I don’t need.)
What does all of this have to do with patience?
Well, these past five days have felt…slower. Smoother. Easier. It could just be that I’m in an up curve on my creative cycle, but it feels deeper than that.
I haven’t attempted my meditation goals yet. The moment hasn’t come up naturally. But I feel that sort of “inner peace” associated with meditation, or at least what I associate with it. Not necessarily happiness or neutrality. Just sort of… in tune. I can listen to my body and my mind and draw conclusions from the two separately, then together, and figure out what I’m supposed to learn and what the next step is.
For instance, with my book. I’ve been struggling with this same story for years, technically. But this version of it for over two months now. It’s not a long book, only projected to be 30k or less. And I gave it up because I thought it was just broken, that I had chiseled and prodded and added too many extraneous ideas into a single story. I had ruined it.
But now I’m finding the opposite was true. Because all the while struggling, I was still learning. Still researching craft. Still looking up interpretations of the Hero’s Journey. Still absorbing philosophical ideas to insert into my characters and the themes of my book.
And when I went over Brandon Sanderson’s Laws of Magic (for the second time) something finally sunk in that flipped a switch.
Well, two things. The importance of limitation in storytelling.
I found this vibration within myself. This sound wave that has struggled for years against the world around me. Now suddenly…it’s quiet, humming along with my surroundings.
I’ve been writing this same book for over ten years. Last year, I thought this was a tragedy. While I was stuck on this one idea, everyone in the industry around me is making full-time incomes on their book-a-month schedules. I wanted to be like them. To reach fans that quickly. To build a career out of fiction writing day in and day out.
This year, at least this week, I feel like this was how it was supposed to happen.
I wasn’t ready to publish (even though I went and published a book on Amazon.) I rushed it all, thinking that quantity outweighed the time needed to build a quality piece of art in importance.
I’ve read some of those book-a-month novels out there.
Let’s just say I didn’t buy the sequels…
I don’t want to be that person. I physically can’t be, I realized.
I’m taking down my published work to polish it more and re-publish it later on when I have a more stable series already written. I’m going to take my time with these tales. I’m going to listen to my body, my emotions, and my stressors. I’m going to follow where the “tune” is in every moment.
And if that means playing board games for three days straight (like this past weekend) that’s what’s going to happen.
My different brands are all muddled with all these conflicting ideas from the past few years. Impatience driving it all. I wanted to be a full-time author so badly that I forgot what being an author meant. I forgot what vlogging meant. I forgot what it felt like to make a “thing” and put it out in the world and see what fish bit.
So, I’m in the cleaning-house phase. Deleting YouTube videos. Starting over with the blogs. Starting a new editing company. Focusing on art and craft over production schedules, if I even have a schedule at all.
It’s…kind of a drastic shift. From last year anyway.
I don’t feel this need to go, go, go anymore. My muscles aren’t coiled around a due date, keeping my body awake until the deadline is met.
I can’t live like that. Patience…it’s surprisingly easy after I let go of systems and calendars, the things I used to measure time. I don’t think I can do without them forever, but I definitely won’t be using them to the extent that I was.
It’s about the journey. And the creating and researching and drafting and editing are the journey. Not the publishing. Not the word counts. Not the views per video. Not the keywords built into metadata. Not the calendars, planners, or timelines.
Why would I want to speed that up and lose this last opportunity to be with these characters in this scenario with these innocent questions in their first-page minds?
Why would I want to rush a vlog that is about my interests and connecting with viewers?
When I started this blog, I thought I would focus on the idea of “time” as a resource that is passing me by every day. As something I let myself lose. But actually, I think it’s simply the frame on the painting. I only need it for a few basic things, mostly related to keeping up with the outside world of things. It marks the end points of a project, but not the project itself.
I can’t force the painting into a frame. I frame the painting based on the size and shape it ends up being.
Til next time,