From now on (for the rest of 2013, or at least for the foreseeable future) I'm going to put more effort into marketing my writing. This means I need to put my marketing cap on top of my writing cap and my research and development cap on top of both of them because I'm going to have to dig deep and come up with creative ways to get people interested in what I write.
I know one thing. The best marketing tool I have access to is my own writing, so my focus will be to publish some of my short stories and novellas, the shorter works I have piled up over the years. Can I? Hm...time will tell. Novels are time consuming but easy for me to write. The shorter the work, the more my perfectionism gets in the way, the harder they are to write, edit, and publish.
On top of this, one of the challenges I've had in getting my second novel done (book #2 in the Czar Chronicles) is that I get so easily distracted by other things. I also write in cycles. I sometimes am able to focus on one thing at a time, and at other times I don't necessarily have the focus for one project, but can effectively divide my time on various stories. If I choose to do that, I must make certain that I finish these other projects in a timely fashion, otherwise I risk divorcing myself from my top priority without anything to show for it.
Strangely, last year at almost this time I began to have the same feeling of “do something else for a change.” I've been at my novel since October, about the same time I started writing in 2011. I can give one project a few good months before I get worn out. The creativity isn't gone, but it needs something else to express itself through.
(I wrote heavily on “Rising” from November 2011 until February 2012 before I got sidetracked by something else. I've written on “Sacrifice from October 2012 until January 2013, before I felt it would be good to change gears. I'm seeing a pattern.)
As I near the end of this novel's rough draft, I'm getting antsy about the second draft. I will inevitably need a break between drafts anyway, so I am going to dust off a ghost story I had written last year, and go at it with a new ferocity. It has the potential to be a fantastic novella, and in rewriting it, I will brush the rust off my rewriting skills. It's been a long time since I worked a second draft. Almost a whole year!
Then there's the time I spend writing. I feel like I can do more. I have worked an hour or two almost every day for the last few months, and I feel confident that I can bump this up a bit, maybe even double it. I can use some of this time for my novel, some for shorter works, some for blogging, some for getting my name out there. I feel more confident now than I was at the end of last year, and feel capable of handling the increased workload.
Does it sound like a plan?
I learned a lot last year, about managing my time, about how not to get stressed out. I feel I can apply these lessons going forward and avoid some of the pitfalls I experienced last year. 2012 was productive, despite not having written for most of the Summer. I think I'm ready now to treat writing like a job again.
And in doing that I must remember one important fact:
Work is play.
I must not forget my overall priority, that I enjoy writing, that writing is fun, that I write because I feel good writing...and not get confused by goals, by the future, by publishing a bunch of stories or getting rich, because none of these things can stand up against what is happening right now on the page, and if I focus on the current story I will find satisfaction and fulfillment in writing, but if I start thinking about sales and money and publication, I'm going to get depressed and lost in abstractions.
I do not want to get stressed out writing stories. If I'm getting stressed out then I won't want to write stories any longer. I need to take risks, take on a little more responsibility, but balance that with a point of view that writing is really still just a hobby of mine, something I enjoy immensely. Somehow I must write more and take the business side of writing seriously, without applying so much pressure on myself that I begin to think I'm a "writer" in the sense that this is now the only thing I can do in life. That's a daunting idea, and one I will try to avoid any way I can. It'll almost seem like magic to do so, but if I can do so, in a few more months readers will have some very interesting and fun stories to read in their spare time.
Sometimes I am the biggest challenge facing my own career. Perhaps I'm always the biggest challenge. But it's a challenge I'm familiar with and know. In that I'm lucky.