Tag Archive | passions

Back From Hiatus: What I’ve Learned

GirlAtDesk_2

I can’t believe 2017 is already nearing the finish line. Soon, bubbly-fueled, pitchy renditions of Auld Lang Syne will fill the air, and I’ll feign familiarity with the lyrics by humming and grunting the melody with my family and friends, poised to hit the ground running in 2018.

Actually, I’m already itching to get this show on the road. After taking a multi-month respite from social media, I feel refreshed and focused with a close-to-crystal vision of where I’m headed and how I’m aiming to get there.

Going off-grid wasn’t something I initially had any intention of sticking out for more than a spell. I simply wanted to spend a bit of concentrated time in manuscript-immersion mode as opposed to perpetually stuck in the eyes-to-the-phone-screen position.

One day unplugged would be doable, I thought. Two, tops.

But one day became one week, which had somehow morphed into three months. Three months fully present and finally—yes, finally—hitting my authorly stride. I wrote books…plural. And outlined others. And tweaked my business plan. And established a second brand for my mature adult fiction. It was like a whole new me had surfaced and taken over— the frantic, urgent, impassioned writer I always knew was buried inside.

I’d have been crazy to fight it.

The words kept coming and I wasn’t about to disinvite them by answering my phone’s seduction call and becoming lost in an abyss of selfies, subtweets, and hashtagery.

Of course, that’s not to say I didn’t miss those things. Because I did. A lot. Nor am I condemning social media, smartphones, or the internet at large. Because I love ’em! I do! Heck, if it weren’t for a little platform called Wattpad.com and the encouragement and support I’d received there when I was starting out, I would never have published my first book.

However, the lessons learned during my time offline have been invaluable, leaving me indelibly prepared for a more fulfilling and productive New Year and beyond. Especially this golden nugget of wisdom…

Writing comes first—always.

(Side note: We all know that family in fact comes first, but within the context of this blogspace I’m strictly talking from a career-longevity standpoint. Okay, I’m glad I got that off my chest.)

So, writing, eh? What a revelation! Not.

I mean, really—it couldn’t be more obvious. Yet we still tend to forget, don’t we? How many of us have poured our blood, sweat and tears into writing and publishing that one book only to become consumed immediately thereafter with things like algorithms, sales rankings, sponsored ads, page likes, social media shares, and wondering if one needs to sacrifice their first born in order to get reviews?

Just me? Well, never mind then. 😉

In all seriousness, though, nothing is more vital—more necessary—than putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and churning out those stories. Its importance is paramount. It has to be. Otherwise, word counts remain stagnant, which is a real mood killer. Trust me.

Try to think of it this way: The more time you spend online, the less time you spend writing, and the longer it takes to build a loyal readership. You want followers? Great! Retweets? Fantastic! Shares? Who wouldn’t!?

But if you want to experience steady career growth, touch the lives of others with your stories, and find readers in increasing numbers who’ll stick with you for the long haul…

Then write more books.

Speaking from my own experience, I knew the only way I was ever going to get my groove back was to forget trying to be everywhere all at once. To stop obsessing over rankings. To reunite with my phone only after I’d met my daily word count goal and not a moment before.

It was challenging at first. We are, after all, creatures of habit. But gradually, the more I left the phone aside, the more it freed up my imagination, and the more words filled my pages. The result is three books I’ll be bringing to you in 2018.

Who woulda thunk it? Certainly not me!

Maintaining a social media presence while keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the publishing industry should be a part of every writer’s platform-building and marketing strategy. Not to mention that it’s also a wonderful way to engage with readers and show support for other writers whose work you enjoy.

But if you’re a writer who spends more than a fair amount of time online (don’t we all?) while consistently drifting in and out of states of creative inertia, then scaling back on scrolling-n-posting, even just a little, could make all the difference in your bookish output.

So that might mean updating your Facebook status 2-3 times a week instead of daily. Or scheduling your tweets ahead of time so that they’ll automatically post at chosen intervals (there are many useful apps for this purpose). This is perfectly acceptable and more than sufficient. Because honestly, when it comes right down to it, your posting frequency won’t translate to much if you’re not actively expanding your catalog of work by…

Say it with me…

Writing.

And if you need to go off-grid like I did to get those creative juices flowing, then that’s okay too. Just keep in mind that when you lay low for a stretch of time, people will unfollow you. That’s to be expected. But don’t worry. Your genuine internet friends and supporters will not only have your back, they’ll be right there waiting upon your return.

So write first, scroll-n-post later. Your career (and your readers!) will thank you for it.

Oh, and Happy Holidays to you and yours! 🙂

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: pixabay.com

 

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A New Year For Keeping Promises

promises

We’ve all got history.

Some we honor with nostalgic fondness. Some we barely remember. Some we only fess up to after liberal helpings of liquid encouragement plunge us into bouts of facepalm retrospect, leaving us with that one gnawing question…

What the eff was I thinking?

And then, of course, some history…

We wish like hell we could forget.

But each experience teaches us something fundamentally important, no matter how far or well we’ve traveled within the circle of life.

Even as I nudge my way through the upper echelon of middle age, life continues to teach me, sometimes in jarring ways, that it is full of change. And, often…

Of endings.

Yet, I also take comfort in having learned long ago that some things are forever, like the certainty that I will always love my family, my children, and my soulmate.

And that I will always hold precious…

My dreams.

After all, passions provide purpose, and they are omnipresent…

In all of us.

Every January, we tend to embark on quests for self-betterment, reuniting our dreams with the due diligence that abandoned them sometime around mid-February the previous year.

We ache to be reborn. We pitch Stuart Smalley-esque affirmations to our expectant reflections. We make promises. And then, gradually…

We break them.

Why?

Because the vows we make to ourselves are the hardest to keep.

I can personally vouch for this.

Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time could probably guess that my dreams heavily revolve around writing, books, writing, romance, writing, and…

Did I mention writing?

So call me Captain Obvious, but I love to write! LOVE. IT. Always have, always will.

However, when I bid adieu to 2016 with champagne flute in-hand, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the writerly promises I’d made to myself that went unfulfilled—namely, the stories in my head that were supposed to end up in print, but didn’t.

Sure, I could blame everything from chronic PMS to those cat-versus-cucumber YouTube compilations that are oh-so-addictive, but the truth?

I allowed my aspirations to fall out of focus.

If you’re a word nerd like me, you know that life as a writer can be incredibly isolating. Keeping the dream alive requires persistence and sacrifice, which can pose a challenge for those of us who suffer the guilt of said sacrifice, conditioning us to then give precedence to everything else.

We assign our dreams “hobby” or “back burner” status, a confusing contradiction since we don’t actually think of them in these terms.

But sometimes, that’s all it takes to bring our active pursuits to a grinding halt. We may even try convincing ourselves that none of it really matters, especially when there are so many other things that require our time and attention.

But deep down, we know better.

My love affair with the written word began as an adolescent. I discovered the freedom and catharsis of gliding ink across paper, an exercise inspired by one of my idols at the time, author Judy Blume.

Back then, I was struggling to find myself and where I might fit in the world—a literal work in progress. But despite not yet knowing who or where I wanted to be, as long as I had words, I was moving.

And that was good enough for me.

Whenever I reminisce on that time, I not only fall in love with writing all over again, but I realize…

I am still a work in progress.

So this year, whether I finish writing one book, six, or even zilch, the part of me that thrives on stringing words and chasing stories will always be there, even when life throws curveballs that try to tell me otherwise.

I don’t know about you, but I feel a responsibility to keep those promises I left hanging in 2016.

So, with that, I raise my pen…

And feel a novel coming on. 😉

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: pexels.com – Ed Gregory, photographer