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I’m crazy late posting this week’s blog. Why? Because life got away with me and I’m pretty freaking tired. I picked up some extra hours at work which are sorely needed. I handed in a book earlier this month, but then had to play catch up, including this month’s column for the Romance Writers Report. And editing – my clients are awesome, but getting a bit behind on one has had a trickle down effect. No, more than that – a snowball effect. In any “free” time, I’ve been trying to do my judging for the RITA awards, the Golden Heart, and you know, do some housework. All that overwhelm ended up with me being angry.

I’ve been tempted to do that “It will be better next week/in March” thing, but I promised myself back in November that that kind of thinking had to stop. Because I can only deal with the RIGHT NOW. And do one thing at a time.

Yesterday I worked at the store until almost 1:30. Which sounds like an early day! But then I picked up my kid from school and we ran a few errands that needed doing – things like picking up paperwork and going to the bank. I got home at 3:15. My other kid called. Then my husband got home. I’d put meatballs in the crock pot and quickly made some rice and veg to go with them and we ate early because it was also payday which means groceries. Groceries means coming home and putting them away. Which then meant me sitting down at my computer at 7:30, and staring at the screen because my brain cells were pretty much toast. I haven’t been sleeping great this week, so I don’t have a lot in reserve.

I did a few tasks. And then I had to do something that didn’t require a lot of focus, so I started some housework.

And I got angry about it.

And I stewed. And fumed a little bit. I won’t go into all the details, but let’s just say… I was feeling overworked and perhaps a little undersupported. I finished the dishes at 10:15. The load of laundry finished and I put it in the dryer. Dumped the compost and let out the dog. And fumed some more.

And then I went to bed.

And I had a choice to make.

I could take to heart the “don’t let the sun set on your anger” thing, or I could stew and fume quietly and not say anything.

I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t overly cuddly, either. But I held my tongue.

Tsk tsk, some people might say. You should never go to bed angry.

But I think it’s okay, and I’ll explain why.

If I had said anything about how I was feeling last night, it would have caused a fight. I would have accused. People would have defended. I probably would have cried (yes, I’m that tired). The whole tone of the conversation would have been confrontational and “spirited.” And I would have laid awake after that, anyway, and I’m pretty sure we would have awakened this morning still being a bit sour about it all. And I would have said things I didn’t really mean, or at least said then in a way that was, frankly, not helpful.

So I slept on it.

It’s okay to sleep on anger. We usually tell people to “sleep on” a big decision. Take your time. Give it some hard thought. So why not anger? Is it really best to air that grievance when you’re already angry and exhausted? Maybe you’ll feel a little differently in the morning after some rest. Maybe what seemed really big and overwhelming isn’t. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll have gained some perspective.

And then maybe you can articulate what was really bothering you in a calm, productive way. And make your point without causing a huge blow out of an argument. This morning I got up and said in one or two calm sentences what I would have exploded about last night.

I totally understand the “don’t go to sleep angry” idea. But I also think we need to do more thinking before speaking – and not just at home but everywhere in life. When we comment on social media. When we talk to other people. The difference is this: we have to stop REACTING and start ACTING. Measured responses. That is something that society is surely lacking these days.

As a writer, this is comparable to an MRU  – Motivation Reaction(or Response) Unit. A stimulus happens, we have a physical and emotional reaction to it, and then we make a decision and act, creating a new stimulus.

If I had gone upstairs last night and said what was on my mind, I would have been stuck in the middle of an MRU. I would have let my anger have priority without thinking. While it’s great to resolve things before sleep, it’s also okay to let cooler heads prevail. To think about what you want to say to have a productive, calm conversation. I don’t think it’s any kinder to blow up at those close to you than to wait, calm down, and express your thoughts or feelings.

So go ahead. Sleep on it if it means better communication with your partner (or whoever else you might be ticked at).

Stay cozy, read a good book, and smile at a stranger. Have a great weekend,

Donna xx

Image result for hamster wheel

There are times when it feels like publishing is the equivalent of spinning on a hamster wheel. We can go really really fast, and yet feel like we’re getting nowhere at all.

This happened to me last week, and so of course I vented to one of my Mastermind groups about it. We’re all in different stages of our careers, and writing different things, but we’re all lamenting that for the number of hours we put in, things are not as lucrative as they once were (consider that most writers make well below minimum wage based on the hours they put in). The answer that often comes up is to do more marketing. And if not MORE marketing, smarter marketing.

There are a few problems with that.

  1. Smarter marketing often = paid advertising, and there’s not always the $$ to make that happen
  2. Smarter marketing means using what is most effective – which can change so frequently it’s hard to know what to do.

I tried a lot of things last year that didn’t really make a difference to my bottom line at all.

And while most of the time I soldier on, every now and again, I have a day where it just feels futile and I seriously Just.Want.To.Write.The.Damn.Book.

So after having a good vent about it, I came away feeling not exactly better, but definitely calmer.

The first thing I did was start reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s series on Discoverability. The comforting thing there is that I started thinking more about the long tail rather than the short tail.

Then I read Nick Stephenson‘s newsletter yesterday. Now, I love Nick’s advice and IMO he’s got a lot of great things to say about readers and engagement. He pushes newsletters hard because it’s a direct conduit to a reader, unlike social media. BUT more than that, I love his newsletters. I love the tone, the personal nature, the smarts… I like it not just because he has salient points to make but because I know that his flights got cancelled when he was on a trip and was “stranded” on a beach… and he posted a pic of how “rough” he had it. Yesterday’s newsletter began with this: “One major thing that nobody EVER talks about with growing an online business (as an author, entrepreneur, or anything) is how LONG things take.” The title of the newsletter is Persistent + Consistent.

And it reminded me that I need to relax. And yes, write the damn book, because I want readers to read and then perhaps look for backlist and then tell their friends or relatives that they read this great book.

So that’s what I’m doing. We’ve been so focused on the marketing aspect for so long and data and hits (and those are still important) that we forget that there’s magic in creating. And magic is what needs to happen for your reader. The methods of finding those readers change, but what has to happen once you get them has to be…

Magic.

I like it.

Have a great week. Stay warm. Read a good book. Smile at a stranger.

Donna

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