Whether you have just begun your publishing road, are multiple books in, or somewhere in between, you know that being an author means you have to put a LOT of time and effort into the process. Limitless hours of research, late nights and early mornings spent doing the “extras” that you try to keep separate from your writing time (and so much more) will leave you feeling drained. The easiest thing to forget in all this is the one thing you need to take care of most of all—your mental and physical wellbeing. That’s right, the most overlooked step of publishing is taking care of yourself.
I’ve said it before, there is a reason why authors refer to our books as our “babies” ... they require as much attention as a newborn but can be so incredibly rewarding when we nurture them.
As most parents know, it’s easy to slide down a slippery road of giving too much to your baby at the expense of yourself. If you aren’t a parent but plan on becoming one, consider this good practice in finding a healthy life balance. Of course, if you have no wish to become one, chalk this up to another reason why you’d rather pass!
But I digress...
In August, I sent out two newsletters, one with the normal monthly updates and then another, announcing exclusive information about the release of my second novel, The Raven’s Fall. The timeline before that included a dizzying array of tasks to ensure I met my target dates. It wasn’t long before I realized I wouldn’t have enough time to get August's blogpost or September's newsletter out, either.
When I tried to write them later, I hit mental block after block. The ‘what-ifs’ tried to derail me further but luckily, I’ve been through the wringer with them before. I quickly changed the mental narrative and told myself exactly what I would have told a loved one if they had expressed the same struggles to me. Hopefully, someone else can benefit from hearing these.
What were they? Glad you asked...
1) Good grief, you just published a novel—of course you need a break! I looked at this as objectively as possible. Even before I considered the actual process of publishing a novel, I was in awe at the accomplishment. Heck, I remember thinking it was cool when someone I knew was asked to be the cover model for a romance novel! Writing one, though? It’s a terrific accomplishment and it’s ok to let yourself know how proud you are of...well, you.
2) It took you almost ten years to publish the first novel but you got the second one out in eight months! Of course, this was my timeline and yours will likely be completely different. Whatever it is, make sure you acknowledge it and take a slow, deep breath, in through your nose, out through your mouth. Even if the second one took longer than the first, I guarantee your writing improved. Which leads me to...
3) You gained more experience and honed new skills! Few of us start this career knowing exactly what we’re getting into. I often hear people lament about long hours spent in the office, shop, or 'out in the trenches.’ I’ve been that person! Trust me, none of it prepares you for the all-consuming nature of being an author. When you aren’t thinking of plot ideas, character names, or whether your character should be left-handed or have a mole above their right eye, you are researching the latest publishing tools; updating social media and websites; reading and reviewing other books; planning promotions; hiring/firing editors, formatters, narrators, and designers; and most importantly, learning how to become a better writer.
If you think this doesn’t sound like there are enough hours in the day to fulfill all of these tasks, you are correct. I’m not going to sugarcoat things. It’s a lot. When you add everyday living, it can feel like the weight of the world is pressing down on you.
The only way you can get through it all with a modicum of sanity is to be generous in showing empathy to yourself. I’m sorry if it all sounds anticlimactic.
Really, Rose, ‘be kind to myself’... I’ve heard that a hundred times! And yes, you may have.
But have you actually practiced it?