Let’s talk about slacking off… oh and priorities because they clearly go hand in hand. The two – priorities and slacking – are kind of the best fitting metaphor of a double edged sword, each side sharp and meaningful, complimenting one another in an odd way. Together, they enable you to slow down when absolutely necessary, making things happen as they’re meant to.
If you’ve ever really had to put yourself out there as an independent artist, then you probably understand exactly what I’m talking about. We all have our days, weeks, months, and even years that we struggle to get things done. Finding time can often be rough, and making time is nearly impossible when life throws too much our way. Especially when there is SOOOOOO much that needs to be done! Keep your chin up, because sometimes it’s when your mind shuts down and refuses to cooperate fully, that’s when life is actually preparing you for something even bigger. You have to fall before you can bounce.
As an independent writer who’s spent the last few years trying to build an author platform, and grow a readership beyond close friends and family, I didn’t fully understand the slack off rollercoaster effect, until recently. If someone would have sat me down four years ago and told me everything that this ‘writing career’ move entailed, I probably would have ran for the hills. I can clearly remember the day when I very first told a group of friends, “I’ve gotten rejected by so many agents, that I finally started reading up about it. Can you believe that most successful writers try to get represented for between five and ten years before ever even publishing their work?”
After looking at their shocked faces I keeped at it. “AND, get this?!” I ranted. “Even then, most of them hardly ever even sell their books. It’s like, luck of the draw. There are thousands of books published every year, and millions available on amazon. Even if you do get an agent and a ‘real’ publishing contract your work is still like a needle in a haystack.”
Most of my friends only nodded and pretended to be interested, but really they could care less about books. But there are a couple who really give a shit. One of which joined my heated moment, “So what the hell are you supposed to do, quit writing books?”
“Oh God no,” I naively told her. “I love to write. I think what I’ll do is, figure out on my own everything that these agents and publishing companies do to advertise books, and I’ll just do that. Skip the middleman completely. If it takes a decade to land a real publishing contract, then why the hell don’t I use that time to build up a readership all by my bad-self?”
So, that’s precisely what I set out to do! What a laugh! Who would have thought that building your own author platform all by our bad-self would take countless hours of daily dedication. Year after year of pay-less blood sweat and tears, poured into a virtual game of tit for tat with mostly just other authors who are trying (basically) the same approach. We aren’t a needle in a haystack afterall… We’re just another needle in a big ass barel of other needles.
I once read a passage out of a book called Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, I’m not going to do a direct quote because I’m not going to search for it, but it said something to the effect of, ‘you could write the best book ever written, but no one will ever read it if they don’t know it exists.’
Powerful message, right?!
Needless to say, when you’ve been at the grind of blogging, networking, reviewing, and growing social media on every platform that you can stomach for as long as I have, a slack year is inevitable. Last year was that year for me, and thank the powers that be that it’s over. 2019 was rough in lots of ways, and now it’s over, finally. One step at a time I’m getting me back, and it’s lovely.
Last night I was looking over my growth in followship and numbers across the board. My first year and a half of blogging I grew like a weed! I wrote a fresh new blog post consistently, and dedicated at least two hours of my time to social media. Every. Single. Day.
My second year of ‘putting myself out there’, I started to peter off a bit, only writing fresh and original content once a week or so, I joined more and more blog tours, and I reviewed more books than ever before (until now, wink wink). My followship, both on the blog and on social media slowed quite a bit, but still remained steady. I hadn’t yet flatlined, but I wouldn’t consider this time booming either.
Then last year happened. Here is where the slacking and priorities going hand in hand, really came into play. Life hit me pretty hard at the beginning of 2019. Mentally, I had to work on myself, and my writing was placed on the back burner. Yet, I’m far too stubborn to let go (as all REAL writers are, mind you). I’d put too much of myself into my work to let it merely grow stagnant. So, I made the sad decision of maintaining minimum virtual appearances, or ‘keeping face’ for the mere sake of not losing everything I’d worked for. I reblogged more and more of other people’s stuff. I skimmed on reading other people’s blog posts, in turn missing out on SO MUCH amazing and helpful stuff. I signed up for weekly blog tours, just to keep the action on my page somewhat alive, by doing the bare minimum. Period.
I’m talking about this time in my writing career, because I understand all too well that it happens to a lot of writers and it’s OKAY!! Priorities kicked in! I weighed my time, my options, my mental health and I prioritized EXACTLY as I needed to in that frame of my life.
Now, in hindsight, I’m confident that I didn’t make any wrong choices. I may have slowed my progress and growth, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a set back. I’m still here. I’m still writing. I’m back to writing more and more original content both on the blog and otherwise! I’m reading at a much more efficient speed, and being much more picky about the books I do read, which is an excellent choice in prioritizing. 2020 is off to an AMAZING start! I’m ready to bounce! I feel as if I’ve grown more as a writer in the last couple of months than I had for that entire year of slack and prioritizing. It’s funny how slacking off, isn’t always a bad thing… as long as you do actually come back, that is!
SO- if you’re in the same phase as I was last year- just know that I feel your pain, and you CAN get through it. You CAN, and WILL bounce, and when you do it’ll be glorious! Pick your battles as a writer. Slack when you need to, and prioritize wisely, even if you are in a sticky jam. You’ll find your feet again, dig yourself out of the muck, and beyond. Your wings won’t come until they’re meant to, as a writer. It’s all a part of the journey, and loving every phase is imperative, because the effects of stagnancy can be seriously detrimental.