Do you remember these lyrics from a perfume commercial in the 70s? “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan and never, never let you forget you’re a man.” Women were supposed to believe they could do it all and be well dressed, beautifully coiffed and perfumed at the same time. Well, as any woman who has tried to do everything for her family and succeed in her own career knows, that’s poppycock. (I can think of other words but I’m trying to keep it clean.) No woman, or man, can do everything, at least not at the same time. Something has to give.
You may be wondering what all of that has to do with writing. The answer is: everything. As writers, the thing we want to do more than anything else, is to write but there are times when other responsibilities must take precedence. For example, when we have a new book coming out, we need to devote a good portion of our time to promoting it. And, like everyone else, we writers have families and friends who sometimes need us and, as important as our writing is to us, the people we love are more important.
I’ve written five novels, my Malone mystery series, and I’m currently working on a standalone mystery. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things.
- I’ve learned to prioritize. Each morning, I make decisions as to what the most important things are for me to do that day. What has to be done? What should be done? And, what I’d like to get done if I have the time and the energy. I schedule my day and I make lots of lists.
- I’ve learned not to feel guilty when I don’t accomplish everything I’ve set out to do that day and not to let anyone else make me feel guilty either. I can’t please all of the people all of the time; all I can do is what I can do!
- I’ve learned not to “bite off more than I can chew.” In other words, I try not to commit to more than I know (or think) I can handle. Sometimes, this results in missed opportunities to promote my books but I’d rather say “No” to an invitation than have to back out on something I’ve committed to.
- I’ve learned to take some time each day for me. After all, we are human beings, not human doings. A little time to myself soaking in a warm tub, reading a good book or sprawled out on the sofa watching TV can be just what I need to recharge my batteries. And, I've come to realize, "down time," when I'm not even thinking about writing, is often when I get some of my best ideas.
- I’ve learned to focus more on why I write than on my lack of online sales. I try not to equate the number of books I sell with success. Some days I do a great job of that; other days not so much. But, a very wise friend of mine once said, “Ninety percent of life is showing up.” So, each day, I sit at my desk, place my fingers on the keyboard and write. Because writing is my passion and who knows? Maybe someday. . . .