Seriously, I think my process has changed a thousand times now.
That’s not a bad thing. Far from it. To survive as a writer since 2003, I’ve had to make several leaps. Successes, followed by failures or dry spells. It’s the nature of the game.
Last year (2020), was hard for a multitude of reasons. The biggest for me personally was divorce. I couldn’t publish anything “big” that might complicate an already complicated situation. But I also had to survive. Readers needed to remember who I was even if I didn’t have a big book. I had to keep my income up as much as possible, so I could continue to pay for my kids’ college, without any major releases.
I learned. A lot. I learned how to work that backlist like nobody’s business. And honestly, I’ve still got a long ways to go there. I am working on getting some of my less KU-friendly series out wide to get some stability outside of the Amazon basket. But that takes time and it’s definitely a learning process. I learned I REALLY did not need to buy all the pretty covers in all the lovely design groups. I’ve been dipping into my stash for individual anthology covers, and I also gave four to my daughter, who dipped her toe into writing as Bobbie Jo Hart.
With all the divorce stress, combined with pandemic nightmares, I really didn’t write a lot of new words. I did write new short stories. I kept up with the promo stuff. Continued to do giveaways, etc. But I just didn’t feel very creative. When I did write, it was a torturously slow process and it was easy to get discouraged.
I didn’t know if I’d ever feel like “me” again. If I’d ever find that black highway at night, roaring down the road with no headlights but seeing everything so perfectly clear.
Instead, I was hunched over the steering wheel barely in a crawl, peeking out a tiny hole in a frosted-up windshield with blowing blizzard winds hiding the road completely.
In desperation, I started looking for new ways to inspire myself. New ways to get some energy pennies back on my plate (thanks, Becca). I was intrigued with her idea of “office hours,” where writers got together on Zoom for quiet sprints, with very regulated and limited convo times in between. But I was too shy to jump into an existing group of people who already were working together seamlessly.
It took some trial and error to figure out what could work for me. Ultimately, my beloved sister proved why she’s so beloved. She too was looking for a way to get back into writing. To sit every day with the words and find a way to complete something. Plus, bonus, we got to see and talk to each other! (Molly has health issues so we’ve not seen each other in over a year to keep her as safe as possible during the pandemic.)
Since Feb. 1st, Molly and I have met via Zoom for “office hours” daily. Some days we talk a lot and only write a little – but we write EVERY DAY. We’re evolving too so that we can write 2-4 sprints in a session, and still talk in between. It’s casual and fun – not regimented. It’s a REWARD to zoom in and get some words, rather than a chore. She’s about twice as fast as me, so I’m hoping that she’ll inspire me to slowly inch my word counts up, but she’s already written around 40K (she actually stopped counting words so it may be much more) this month, and I’ve written 30K.
I have another post on a different thing I’ve starting doing too – I’ll post that tomorrow.