As it is tradition, I take two weeks off at the end of the year to completely detach from the regular routine throughout the year. This time is intended to let the mind wander. In fact, the event is always called “wandering mind” for the two weeks in the calendar. Every year it serves a different purpose, and this one focuses on finding a new groove, asking the tricky question: What do you want from writing? 2022 will serve as that new start and hopefully a move in the right direction.
Welcome to Another Edition of Unprocessed Thoughts
Last year was a big one with the writing goals. For the first time, I released three new books and four audiobooks. I’ve gone through the summary in the newsletter and on social media, so we won’t bother with that here. This Unprocessed Thoughts is about reflecting on where the two-week “wandering mind” session is taking me.
New Year’s resolutions are a cliché, and most people don’t stick to them. We can all admit it, or we should be able to admit it to ourselves. This is part of the theme of this Unprocessed Thoughts. Ask yourself the tough questions. New Year’s resolutions sound nice on paper. Rarely do we fulfil these new directions. I’ve loosely participated in New Year’s resolutions with general goals for the year. They’re low enough fruit that I can grab them as I don’t try to reinvent myself.
On a broader scale, I thought I was working towards making writing full-time for the past ten years since the release of Reality. I don’t think that’s entirely the case, as I have taken significant detours from what it means to write full time.
What do you want from writing? Well, it’s not an easy one to answer. I’ve grown and evolved the freelance graphic design and web development business and understand the required business side. Not so much in the writing as I have primarily written for passion, thinking the stories are what people want. Yes, beta readers are helpful, and they may enjoy the book because the writing is good but may not apply to a broader audience. Or maybe they’re not the right beta readers.
Thankfully the lockdown and social distancing have given me time to learn new skills and topics such as:
This was obvious. With conventions practically gone, it was time to learn about reader magnets, short stories, freebies, ads, promo newsletters, and so on. I’ve reached a wider range of people worldwide now because of it.
I covered this in another blog post. But audiobooks are worth mentioning as they pull in a new audience, different from the usual online marketing.
Write to Market
This brings us back to the question, “What do you want from writing?” It’s a tough one to swallow. I’m still learning it and comprehending the reality of pushing the ego aside if I want to make a living from writing.
There is tons of constant learning and navigating through the vast industry of book publishing and the indie author world. It isn’t the same game ten years ago when I started. I was just trying to figure out how to write my first book back then.
It’s Important to adapt and evolve when running any type of business. Here’s the paradox: we all know that writing a book is like writing a marathon. Marathons require consistency. Being consistent is the opposite of evolving; just look at sharks.
But you can adapt and evolve in gradual shifts while running a marathon. You can adjust your speed, conserve energy, and ensure you’re running on the right path.
What Do you Want from Writing?
You must be conscious of what you’re writing and what you’re trying to get out of it. Is it money? Is it fame? Is it self-fulfillment? Maybe it’s a mix of all three, and it’s ultimately up to you to decide what it is.
False Sense of Validation
You may have figured what you want from writing. It very well could be the same thing forever, or maybe it’s changed over the years. It certainly has for me. For the longest time, I felt the need to validate my own writing after the release of Reality. In doing so, I submitted to many awards, review groups and spent large sums of money in submissions.
Oddly enough, my best-selling books are the ones that I never entered in any awards. Is that an issue? Well, that brings us back to “what do you want from writing?” At the time, I convinced myself that I needed validation for my work and the only way to do that was through winning awards.
I’ve grown past that stage, realizing it wasn’t necessary. Still, I’m glad I went through that process of submitting. It forced me to get better at the craft. In a way, many award submissions acted like a paid college course. The judges gave honest feedback, which I applied to improve the writing. Plus, the ones I won look good on the CV, the press kit, and having shiny badges on covers helps pull in potential readers.
Evolve and Adapt
Yes, New Year’s resolutions may be cliché. But at some point, it is good for you to take a long hard look at where you’re at with your writing craft and career. It’s also healthy to look at where you’re at as a person and decide if that’s who you want to be. That’s the tough one. It’s worth being 100% honest with yourself, so you don’t slip into some weird fantasy. That’s a dangerous path that leads to a glass foundation bound to shatter one day.
Nothing is written in stone when it comes to life, well . . . mostly, and you are allowed to evolve and adapt. Ask yourself, what do you want from writing? Perhaps you come back to the same answer as before, or you may realize you’ve never been fully honest with yourself. It’s part of the emotional rollercoaster that comes with any creative endeavour. Don’t be afraid to question yourself. You may be surprised at what you find, and you’ll be better for it.
Beer Note: 948 Brewing Company Extraterrestrial Bitter
For this month’s Unprocessed Thoughts, what do you want from writing? I tried the 948 Brewing Company Extraterrestrial Bitter, a 5.3% alcohol volume can. My girlfriend found it at the famous Sherbrooke Liquor store here in Edmonton. I’m a big fan of space and aliens, so it was a good fit. Bitters are hit and miss for me, and this one has a lot more hops than I anticipated which give plenty of flavours. It is a good one-off drink to mix with your evening to keep yourself adapting and not get stuck.