The month of April signified my one year anniversary as a published author. It sort of snuck up on me without me even realizing it. One day I checked the publish date on my first book and realized, oh wow, April 9th is in two days! And then it came and went, and life moved on, but I felt so accomplished by this simple anniversary. Because to me it means that for one whole year, I’ve been immersed in the Indie author community. I am no longer a “newbie,” but an accomplished writer with seven published books under my belt. What began as a “What the heck, why not put my book out there?” turned into a full-time hobby that might as well be a job. I quickly learned that publishing a book entails a lot more than just popping it up on Amazon and crossing your fingers. It requires a lot of dedication, hard work, and hope.
But what I’ve also learned throughout this incredible year is that it’s okay to not get it right the first time. It’s okay to not sell as well as other authors, or to not make it through to the next round in that book contest. It’s also okay to not be a bestseller right off the bat. Most people aren’t. All you can do is have confidence in yourself, continuously expand your knowledge and perfect your skills, and, most importantly, find joy in the journey. Life is too beautiful to waste on being stressed out or worried. So instead, take a moment to breathe and allow yourself time to enjoy what you love. If you love to write, then write. Don’t waste more time than necessary advertising, marketing, promoting your work if that’s not what you love to do. There will always be time for that later. The best thing you can do for your peace of mind now is to do what you truly want and love to do.
Lately, I’ve taken up an obsession with healthy eating. It was probably inspired by my good friend making the healthy living choice and she lost a ton of weight and feels fantastic. I wanted to feel fantastic too. And while perusing healthy eating sites and learning the ins and outs of what veggies are best and what cool recipes there are out there, I found so many inspirational blogs and websites as well. As a result, I found something that was seriously lacking in my life: inspiration, acceptance, humility. You see, I’d been in this running, running, running mode for so long that I’d long ago forgotten how to step away and simply breathe. Even when on vacation, my mind was constantly on my books and on marketing and on what I should post to Facebook and whether or not I’d gotten any new reviews on my books…it was wearing me out and spreading me too thin. I’m learning now that the reason I wasn’t sleeping well and the reason my mood was always crabby was that I, in a lot of ways, was stuck in a rut. Sure, I was making progress with my books (completed my latest one thanks to NaNoWriMo last November, which was awesome!) but I was neglecting the other things in my life so much so that they were left to shrivel in my dust. My health, my job, my marriage, my friends…all started to take second place to my books. I knew it wasn’t right, and yet I couldn’t stop myself. I had formed these habits that were much too hard to break. Being online from dawn till dusk checking emails, writing blog posts, drawing up advertisements, wasting time surfing Facebook (as if that’s ever productive!), etc. I was consumed by it. I have a habit of throwing all I have at a project when I am truly dedicated to it, and that’s exactly what I did. While that’s fine sometimes, in this case it wasn’t. Because it was a never ending project. When you publish a book, you always want to write the next one and then publish it, and then on to the next one, and the next one. It never stops. So I had to learn how to reign myself back and accept that being online sixteen, seventeen hours a day was not making me more money, it was not helping me sell more books, and it definitely wasn’t making me happy.
So I pulled back. I’m still online for part of the day taking care of things, but I have learned that this race I was running to make it to the top of the Indie writing world was a race I was running in circles. The thing is, I’ll get there when I get there, and taking the fun out of the process is the worst thing I could do. I offer this same advice to other authors out there, and to everyone, really. Whatever it is that you do in life, make sure that you take the time to stop, breathe, enjoy the moment, and count your blessings. All too often we are reminded of just how short life can be, and yet so rarely do we take a moment to appreciate that fact. I challenge all of you to take charge of your life and do what you enjoy, be with those you love, and cherish every second you have. You will find that taking a break from the computer for awhile and going for a walk outside will lift your spirits in ways you probably forgot existed. Or find a new hobby to get into, like me with cooking healthy recipes, and spend some time enjoying it. Or, do something that a lot of writers should really spend more time doing these days…write! Trust me, you will see your outlook on life begin to improve with every day that you take time to do the things that make you happy.
My husband showed me this fantastic video when we first got together, and I’ve never forgotten it. In fact, it’s one of his favorite videos ever, and he constantly shows it to people because it is honestly one of the most inspiring things you will ever see. It’s called Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen and the video was made by my favorite director, Baz Luhrmann. Here it is, I hope you find it as inspiring as I did!
“People with many interests live, not only longest, but happiest.” -George Matthew Allen