Writer's Journal

The Necessary Pause From Writing

For the past three weeks, I have set writing aside. I don’t know why I have become almost afraid to open the manuscript. I only know the thought of opening it and trying to write the next chapter has become a thing of dread. Even to the point of telling myself I should just quit. I look at sales and see nothing for the past month, not even one page read! I am discouraged. So I question whether this is what God wants me to do.

I’ve questioned this since I started writing in 2001. As I think back, I remember how this same thing happened on every book I’ve written except the very first one. I wrote that one without thinking whether it was good or bad. It was something I’d thought about doing, and I just did it because I was unemployed at a time in my life when I had built a successful career and felt lost. So I wrote.

After being published in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, I felt the call to continue. My call? Or God’s call?

To this day, I don’t know the answer. What I do know is I can open the manuscript and finish it. But I really don’t want to do that. I keep feeling as if I shouldn’t feel pressured, even if it is of my own doing, at this stage of my life. I want to enjoy my time. I want to spend more time in God’s Word. I want to write, but from the heart, on this blog, and not fiction. I did enjoy finishing Katy’s Heart. The book was well received by my fans. I felt encouraged. So I wanted that feeling to continue and began writing a new story. And that’s where I am now. On the downside of the middle and not wanting to move forward.

I wonder how many other writers have felt this way? And so, I pause…

Author's Life · Writer's Journal

When I Don’t Want to Write

It’s been one of those weeks where I didn’t write anything on my manuscript. Yes, I have a self-imposed deadline in mind and I doubt I will reach it. Some days I truly forgot about the work in progress. Others, I told myself, I would write the next day, which didn’t happen.

Instead of writing, I spent time working on a jigsaw puzzle that’s a doozy. I also did more coloring this week. Coloring relaxes me. I so enjoy bringing a picture to life with color. It’s my favorite hobby. There are times when I don’t want to color, too. I’m a person who has too much free time on their hands and gets bored easily with the same things.

So why not write? If I spend only an hour a day, I’ll make fantastic progress on my manuscript. It only takes missing one day and then I don’t mind missing the next and the next. If a writer doesn’t commit to at least one hour a day, everything goes off track. That’s the problem for writers like me. Writers who have lived the best part of their lives already. Widows or widowers who live alone, or perhaps with a cat, like me. Those who don’t have to work any longer and need to fill the hours.

I’m longing from this long winter to be over and spring to come. I long to sit on my front porch and welcome in the new day listening to the birds singing. I long to sit outdoors and write. Or, so I tell myself.

Author's Life · Writer's Journal

When I’m Not Writing, I’m Still Writing

I looked at my March goals in my planner today, surprised to see I’d written one about writing: add 20,000 words to the manuscript. Not an unachievable goal at all. But, when I looked at my writing history so far for the month, I have written 9,662. Not even halfway to the goal with only 8 days remaining counting this day.

Why have I so miserably neglected writing this month? I could make excuses about distractions of the mind. Which are true, but I also know when I write, those distractions disappear.

On the other hand, I believe not having any goals or deadlines except the ones I place on myself are easily pushed aside. A blessing mostly, as at my stage of life, I need the flexibility of days doing nothing but being still. It is in those moments I connect with God. If I fail to do this, Satan will undermine not only my writing but every aspect of my life. Not easily pushed aside.

In these remaining 8 days, I will write every day. Some days I’m more proliferate than others and I accept this as normal. Recently I told a dear friend, also a writer, the story is finished when the story is finished. Don’t focus on word count. I need to listen to my own advice!

Since writing to me is more than whatever manuscript I’m working on, I know I’m using my skills in good ways. Daily posting something filled with hope and inspiration on Facebook (a mission), writing three blogs a week, and capturing God moments in my personal journal.

I look at this as, “even when I’m not writing, I’m writing.” It’s all in how we use our gifts.

Writer's Journal

Rule Makers of the Publishing World – To Listen or Not

A few days ago, I thought the book I’m now writing would be my last. Why? Because I had reached the middle. Looking back on my writing over the years, I remember how I hit that doubt point with every single book I wrote, except for my first.

With the first, I wasn’t considering if it was good enough or if I was “following” the rules…

So what are those rules anyway? Things established by people who are writers, editors, publishers. Sometimes these rules get too stringent and too literal. A writer can get caught up in trying to be “perfect” while the popular best sellers don’t adhere to these rules at all. We are told it’s because they have already established a name for themselves with readers.

My argument is this. If they established a name for themselves with not following the rules, why don’t we do the same? As I’ve matured, I learned to stop listening to the rule makers of the publishing world. Doing so can cause a writer to lose their voice and become one of the masses.

I don’t want to be one of the masses. I am an individual. That’s how God created me. I want every book to bring hope to a broken world and to honor Him in doing so. If I become a “established a name” author, it won’t be because my work is “perfect.” It will be because what I write is pleasing to God and He deigns it to be so.

Author's Life · Writer's Journal

A Writer’s Thoughts About Retirement

I write because I love the art of writing. When my first novel was published in 2006, I felt accomplished. I’d reached a lifelong dream. I was eager to promote myself as an author and to tell everyone about my book. I was with a smaller publisher which taught me a lot about editing and marketing. At the time, I had a lucrative office job, and spent my lunch hours and evening hours writing.

Publishing was different then. Marketing was just beginning through social media and online groups. I was able to remain faceless while interacting through blog hopping, and pretending to be my characters in online promotions. So much fun! I dreamed of retiring from my day job and writing full-time.

Years passed, and self-publishing arrived on the scene. My writing group was adamant about being part of the Romance Writer’s of America organization. I had to pay dues to RWA and to my local writing group. But I had made the decision to branch out on my own and be in charge of my own career. I still don’t know if it was the right move or not, but I can tell you there is a lot of knowledge a writer needs before deciding to self-publish. You can’t just write something and shove it out there. Oh, you can, but those are the kinds of publications which began to give self-published authors a bad rep. The members of my writing group looked at me as someone inferior because I wasn’t seeking a publisher through the traditional routes.

Still, I hung on and did my own thing. Mostly because I retired and had new responsibilities with taking care of my mother who now lived with us and my husband who became very ill. I didn’t need deadlines. After suffering the loss of my mother, then my husband, and soon thereafter, my son, I found writing didn’t offer the joy it once did. I struggled along and published a few books, but no longer was I doing any marketing. Eventually, I decided to fully retire and took my books off market.

In 2022, I felt the desire to write more than my blogs. I picked up a book idea from the past and soon it was a published novel. But I didn’t have the money or the drive to do any marketing. Books that aren’t properly marketed will not survive in the overly saturated self-published sea of novels. My close contacts purchased my books, and some even left reviews, along with a handful of strangers who read the book through Kindle Unlimited. My career fell flat. Now as I am writing another book in the series I planned, I am discouraged when I see my published novels are not producing reads.

It discourages me, though I still have the desire to continue writing stories. What will I do with this? I’m on the fence. On one hand, if I remove the books from publication, I won’t have to worry about the small income when tax time comes. On the other hand, I want to think each book is meant to reach one person and hopefully provide hope and open eyes to how God can work in our lives.

Writing can be a wonderful ride but can also get stuck along the tracks of life. What does a writer do when retirement becomes the driving force? What do we do with the stories in our head or he need to feel the pressure of the keys on a keyboard and words filling the blank white space?