Writing my sequel has led to a lot of reflection on what I’ve done as an author, what I still have yet to do, and how I can improve on the way. I’ve been lucky enough to have the spare time to do this reflection and independently learn how to better myself as a writer, blogger, and general content creator as well.
As I enter this new round of revisions and try to pull together the funds, I’m also looking ahead at the difficulties that await – not in a dreadful sense so much as the Stoic sense of premeditatio malorum.
Premeditatio malorum = “premeditating the bad” in Latin, or anticipating what challenges lie ahead of you to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.
The main issue coming up that’s been on my mind has been costs – publishing isn’t cheap, especially if you decide to go the non-traditional route, and even more so as a college student. I’ve pursued that path to maintain the rights to my creative work and ideas, as well as for better royalties, but this comes with the need to front the costs myself (which have gotten $2,000 more expensive since last year) and to get sales as a still-little-known author, even with college payments and unexpected expenses that have come up this year. (This is part of the reason I have the presales and the merch shop – all funds go towards publishing costs, and I hope to gather the money to pay for it by my February deadline so I don’t disappoint the incredible readers who have supported me by having to push the deadline back.)
There are other obstacles to writing, of course – most are internal. Motivation may be the first thing that comes to your mind – and you wouldn’t be wrong! It’s one perk of working with a team, and why I’m so thankful for the Creator Institute program and having the privilege of working with New Degree Press – they’ve been nothing but wonderful to work with, and have provided a support system that’s held me accountable to my deadlines. They’ve also taught me how to look ahead to potential obstacles, particularly by helping me reflect on the sort of author I was – that’s how I learned of the term sporadic writer.
Sporadic writer = a writer that prefers to write in random bursts of inspiration, rather than sticking to a routine.
(This may seem surprising to those who know that I live and breathe by my Google Calendar, but as much as I’ve tried to change it, I have a hard time writing in a routine.) There’s also the deadline writer:
Deadline writer = a writer that is most motivated by deadlines in getting their writing done.
After realizing that I’m a bit of both, my Marketing and Revising Editor helped me create a system of setting deadlines ahead of the actual deadlines to ensure everything gets in early. With the help of my publishing company and supportive friends, I’m lucky to have such an accountability system.
As I move forward, I’m also looking into how I can improve as a writer, how I can better communicate my ideas through my characters and their arcs. I’m grateful to publish my second book and to see so many around me enjoying the first. But with that comes the fear of a “sophomore slump,” or having my second book be worse.
Ironically enough, that seems to be balanced out by the fact that I’m looking back at what I wish I could change in my previous book, and letting that inform my second as well. My perfectionism had to be halted with A Return to the Ashes (and thank goodness for that, otherwise I would have never published it in the first place), especially when we got to the point in writing where all of my edits were getting more nitpicky than valuable.
As I go into this next round of edits in my sequel with new content, however, it helps to keep in mind the mantra that I was taught when I started my first book:
“Good books aren’t written, they’re re-written.”
Although there’s a lot I’m unhappy with in the first draft of the sequel, it helps to know I’ve started with some direction, and that I can now edit it into something beautiful, with feedback from several editors and friends I am lucky to have as beta readers – all people who I have asked not to hold back on their criticism, and who I can count on for that. My perfectionism still comes up, of course, when I re-read my first book and find one small mistake or thing that I would want to change – but I’ve learned to throw my hands up and use that as an opportunity to fill a gap or better my writing in the future.
The last piece that really bothered me, as I’ve mentioned in my previous writings, has been the aspect of content creation and failing to make a consistent content schedule, especially in an age where no social media marketing means certain death. Despite this, I had still found several excuses:
- No time – I’m already juggling book-writing with my last semester of school and clubs, while staying in shape, keeping a social life, and maintaining a committed relationship;
- I didn’t really have a break between summer internships, trips to visit family in Romania, and school – just a weekend between each, and that’s not enough time to prepare everything;
- I’ve endlessly scrolled on social media apps when they’re on my phone – wasting my own time and affecting my mental health;
- I had little a reach beyond friends, family, and acquaintances, and I don’t want to spam the timelines of others with constant self-promotion;
- I’m a private person and I don’t like to post about personal things the way that my teenage self would probably have been fine with, so it’s less motivating for me.
Most might see these as valid. But we all have the same 24 hours in a day to accomplish anything we want. Writing down these “excuses’ helped me find solutions, just as the Creator Institute helped me in tackling my writer’s block. All it takes are the right questions:
- Are there any idle activities that you know are uselessly sapping your time (i.e. bringing neither enjoyment nor rest nor productivity)?
- How can you better prepare for the times when you’re busy and jumping from one event to another in the future?
- How can you use social media for business reasons without falling back into the endless scrolling?
- Are you really spamming, or is it insecurity fueling this?
- How can you balance out privacy with a more public persona, while remaining authentic?
It took me a while, but forcing myself to rationalize through these ideas led me to the right answers, and a mindset shift to fuel my motivation, and also guide me when motivation runs out and discipline needs to step in. It’s helped me come up with a list of solutions to try out:
- Deleting useless apps that keep me prone to idle scrolling and deleting my Snapchat account.
- Taking a course on how to blog and write more consistently through “batching” – writing and editing posts (with accompanying pictures and copy) ahead of time, while planning out topics ahead of time (for now, you can expect Tuesday and Thursday morning posts – hold me to it!)
- Re-downloading the apps I use on my phone for marketing (Facebook and Instagram) only to post content, bring traffic to my page, indulge in a couple of memes sent to me by friends, check on how my loved ones are doing, then delete for the next 2-5 days until I need to post again.
- Realizing that if I don’t use the channels I have to post, I’ll reach no one outside of my immediate network (and those that are annoyed are free to mute or unfollow me – no harm, no foul!)
- Drawing specific boundaries about what I would/would not post online – i.e. details about familial and romantic relationships – but still ensuring that each post has my voice in it, not the voice of a milquetoast people-pleaser.
Having a supportive system of loved ones is something that I don’t take for granted, especially those holding me accountable to my word(s) and to the authentic person I put out and want to continue being.
There’s still a lot to figure out as I try to make it – it’ll be a while before I can make a reliably steady income on this, as an author still mostly unknown outside her network. Still, I’m optimistic for the future, and strangely enough, for the obstacles I have yet to overcome, in true premeditatio malorum fashion.
In the meantime, you can support by liking and sharing this post, commenting on what sort of content you’d like to see more of, and most importantly: buying my current book on Amazon, pre-ordering the sequel as a signed paperback, or ordering from my RedBubble shop!