Happy New Year and welcome back to Alchemy for Authors!
In this episode, I reflect on twenty things I learned in 2022 while writing, podcasting and being an author. I hope that by sharing my journey, you will find things that resonate with you, inspire you, or encourage you to reflect on your own writing journey, so that you too can charge into 2023 confident in moving closer to your goals.
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Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
The Creative Penn’s Your Author Business Plan: https://creative-penn-courses.teachable.com/p/author-business-plan
Alchemy for Authors: Episode 20: Intuition and Success for Authors with Becca Syme: https://jobuer.com/episode-20-intuition-and-success-for-authors-with-becca-syme/
Connect with Me:
Join the Alchemy for Authors Facebook Page here.
Join my newsletter and download your FREE copy of Manifestation for Authors here.
If you enjoy Gothic Suspense, you can join my reader’s newsletter and download a FREE copy of my short story collection, Between the Shadows, here.
Find the full transcript of this episode below.
Episode 44: Twenty Things I Learned in 2022
Hello, my lovelies, happy New Year. Thank you so much for joining me for another episode of Alchemy for Authors. The first for 2023.
I am just going to start off by saying I really am so grateful that you stuck around and are listening to this episode. This is the first episode on a fortnightly release schedule. And changing fortnightly rather than weekly was such a big decision for me, which came with so much self doubt and questioning if I was doing the right thing.
But in doing this, I have just freed up so much more time for writing. And it’s eased my workload a little bit too, which has just been so amazing. And to be honest it’s really what this whole podcast is about. Which is creating writing lives and author lives that we really love. Not where we’re burnt out and overworked and creatively blocked robots, because nobody wants that kind of garbage.
So again, I am so thankful that you’ve stuck around, that you’re here, that you’re joining me for today’s episode. Thank you so much.
And now as this goes to air it is the 2nd of January, 2023. And like so many of you, I’m sure, I have spent the last few days reflecting a lot about what I achieved and what I didn’t achieve in 2022. What worked for me, what didn’t and what I want to change and achieve for 2023. And boy, is there a lot.
So today’s episode is a bit of a personal one for me. Because I wanted to share 20 things that I have learned over the last year, through my writing, podcasting, and being an author. Some of them might resonate with you and that’s great.
The list I’m going to share though, isn’t in any particular order. They’re really just my musings. Which means that some of them may not click with you at all. And that’s okay, because if you’ve been listening to this podcast, you’ll know that I really do push the belief that we are all on our own paths, our own journeys. And we come at life with our own experiences. But saying that, maybe some of my learnings may help you out too.
So I want to just get straight into this. This is my list of 20 things that I have learned from writing in 2022.
1. However long I think something is going to take, it will always take considerably longer. I don’t know if you have experienced this, but I feel like I have spent this entire year pushing back deadlines. My editor is a saint. And it’s not that I’m lazy or I don’t put in the work or put in the hours because I certainly do, but for whatever reason, and I’m not sure if this is just my ADHD brain or what it is, but I always underestimate how long anything is going to take. How long it’s going to take me to write a chapter, to write a story, a novel, and how long it’s going to take me to edit, as well. So that has tripped me up a lot, this year. Now I haven’t worked out the perfect algorithm for myself as to whether I need to double how long I think something’s going to take or triple it, but that’s differently something that I’m going to investigate further this year. And make sure that I really have built in a lot more time than I think I need to achieve a goal or finish a project. So that is my number one.
2. Which has been a really tough lesson that is slowly starting to soak in for me. And that is that I can’t continue to model a writing career on that of a full time author. So, what I mean by that is I am not a full-time author. I have a full-time day job. And by full-time, I mean that I think I’ve ever averaged it out when I was keeping track earlier in the year, roughly 60 hours a week. And yet I went into this whole business of deciding to be an author, basing my career on what full-time authors were doing. Their writing schedules, their marketing schedules, their social media schedules. Everything. And needless to say, I find myself in almost perpetual burn out because I can’t do everything. We all have the same 24 hours in the day. I just tend to forget that a good portion of those are spent doing a day job that does not relate to my writing life.
So, what that means for me this year is that I am going to have to rethink how I come at my writing goals and my writing career. I need to pare it back a little bit. Now one way that I’m going to look at doing this is, I plan in the next week or so to revisit a course that I purchased a few years back from Joanna Penn, from The Creative Penn Podcast. She has a course and a book and a workbook too, I think, on creating an author business plan. And a few years back, I did go through this course and it was really, really helpful. But it is definitely time to revisit it because my goals have changed. And I’m starting to wake up to the fact that I can’t do everything. I need to make sure that I am still having a life outside of working a day job and outside of my writing. I need more time with my family and friends this year, and I need more downtime and time to do other things as well. So that is one of my focuses for this year going forth.
3. Of what I learned in 2022, is I’ve come to the realization that despite what I’ve been told and what I’ve read on various social media platforms and from author gurus all over the show, is that genre hopping is okay. It’s fine to do. Now, I’d always had it hammered into me not to genre hop, and I understand the reasons why. You know, if you choose a lane, then you can build credibility around that, you can create a marketing plan around that. And it is easier to build a career when you’ve got set boundaries around your particular genre. You know who your target audience is, and you’re not muddying the waters by bouncing backwards and forwards between different genres. And I’ve heard this from so many different authors about yeah, choose your lane. Don’t genre hop. And yet there are so many authors out there, that are like me, multi-passionate, and write across various genres.
Now in 2022. I decided that I was going to change it up a little bit with the genres that I was writing then. So I primarily write Gothic Fiction or Gothic Suspense with a little bit of romance thrown in of course. And the books are quite serious. They can be a little bit dark. They’re a little bit spooky. And I absolutely love them. And I hope to always be able to write in that genre. It’s not a best-selling genre, it’s a relatively small niche, but I write because I enjoy writing. However back in 2021, when I published my last novel, Unspoken Truths, when I got to the end of writing that novel, I was really burned out. Now I’m really proud of that novel. I really love it. But boy, did it take so much out of me. It was a real emotional roller coaster and I really put my heart and soul and a mental amount of hours into it, but it has some rather dark subject matter. And the subject matter really drew on, not necessarily experiences that I’d had myself, but the emotions that I had felt. So it was really quite cathartic for me, in many ways, but I also found myself really burnt-out afterwards. And it took me a long time to kind of build my confidence back up to continue writing. Or what I think was a long time- I guess, a year.
So when I started writing the sequel to that book, at the end of 2021. And then I tried again at the beginning of 2022. And every time I tried, it just felt like pulling teeth and I wasn’t enjoying the process. There came a point where I decided that. I wanted to be writing, I just couldn’t write this book, the sequel, right now. And so I genre hopped.
I had been playing with the idea for a few years of writing a trilogy or maybe a series of paranormal cozies. Completely different in many ways, from what I write now. There’s no swearing. There’s no sex. There’s no on-screen murder and whatnot, and it’s more light-hearted and it’s more fun. And to be honest, writing paranormal cozies was exactly what I needed in 2022. I had started a new job. It was pretty intense. And so to bring that intensity of the normal type of books that I write, which are quite dark, it was really just too much for me.
And so I have been playing with writing a paranormal cozy. And I am in the process of just finishing out my final edits on it before it goes to the editor. And I’m really excited for it. And I have enjoyed every moment. It has just been so much fun from start to finish writing this book. And I have zero idea if it is any good at all. But I just know that I have loved it, loved every moment of it. And it has been exactly what I needed to get my writing mojo back. So genre hopping is fine to do. It can refuel you, and that can help with burnout, and it can just revive a waning passion. Yes, there are drawbacks and a quick Google online, or a search in various Facebook groups will kind of tell you all the drawbacks to that, but remember, like, everybody’s path is different. Everybody’s goals for writing. Everybody’s writing Why’s are different. So you have got to do what’s best for you. And if your heart and your soul and your intuition is just calling you to try something different, do it. Why not? Life is too short, right? So don’t be scared of genre hopping.
4. Of lessons I have learned through writing in 2022. This is an ongoing lesson for me. I suspect it will be a lesson that I am still working on throughout 2023. And that is that it’s okay to have downtime and to cut back on things as well. I have always been a little bit of a workaholic. I’m always busy and I enjoy being busy. I enjoy that feeling of being productive and of creating things. What that means though, is that I can sometimes forget to take breaks or I can feel guilty when I’m not working my butt off.
2022 was busy. It was incredibly busy for me. I started a new job, like I said, with long hours. There was a little bit of a learning curve to it as well. And then I also decided it was a fine time to start a podcast with a huge learning curve and with a huge time commitment. So putting out this podcast every week and doing it all on my own, that required lots of interviews, looking for people to interview, reaching out to them. That required doing the actual recording, a good few edits as well, which was incredibly time consuming. It also required me to do all the social media graphics, uploading show notes, transcripts, the website, doing a newsletter. There were so many pieces to putting out a podcast every week that it was pretty much taking all of my time and the weekends, where I was not still working on the day job.
I love it. Like, I love doing this podcast. I absolutely do. But it was also between that and my full, full time job, there was very little time for writing and that was really tough. Because I was watching while those deadlines of getting books and whatnot to my editor, we’re just whizzing past me and I was forever in her inbox pleading and begging for extensions. Now that’s really sucky for her. And it was really heartbreaking for me because I don’t enjoy messing people around like that. And I don’t enjoy not meeting my goals and not meeting my deadlines as well.
So learning that it is okay to actually cut back, like I’ve done with this podcast and moved it, for an indefinite amount of time, to fortnightly episodes. It’s very possible that down the line I might increase it back up to weekly episodes, but for now it’s fortnightly. So pulling back just a little bit on this podcast has just given me a little bit more breathing space to get my writing projects up and running again. Which has been amazing. It’s also allowed me to feel so much more relaxed. I didn’t realize how mentally taxing it is, working all the time and knowing that I don’t have weekends free and that I have these responsibilities every single week. So learning that it is okay to have downtime and taking time out for myself and all that is going to be an ongoing lesson for me, but so important. And I’m sure that I’m not the only person who may struggle in that area are a little bit.
5. And this is an interesting one. But I have come to realize that jealousy gives direction. And I kind of heard this before, but I really started to feel it last year. And so what I mean by this is that we need to pay attention to those moments where we might find a little stab of jealousy toward somebody, or envy. And that’s a really good sign for us to evaluate what it is that they have, or are doing, that we ourselves want. And once we’ve worked that out, then that’s, that’s great. That’s fantastic because that gives us a direction to move forward in. It helps give us clarity around where our values are, what’s important to us and what we want to achieve.
So an example of that is in the middle of last year, I met another New Zealand author, who has a similar day job to me. Is self published. Um, writes in a completely different genre, but that’s okay. Has a family, is incredibly busy, all the other stuff. And he has set his schedule so that for this year 2023, he is only working four days a week at his day job. And every time he talked about that, or I came across there when he was doing a reel or something on Instagram, I would feel that horrible little stab of jealousy or envy rear up. Because he had reduced his days at the day job specifically so that that fifth day he could use for writing related stuff, whether it was writing books or promoting books, marketing books. And boy, was I envious? Because, oh, I would love to do that.
And it’s funny because the first time that I kind of came face to face with this realization that I wanted that, I wanted to be in that situation, I was given the opportunity to actually reduce my hours down to four days a week at my day job, pretty much for that reason. And then with discussions with my husband and whatnot, and look at our financials and looking at the economy and all that good stuff, we kind of made the decision that now’s not the best time to be doing that. And it was a tough decision. Let me tell you. It really hurt a little bit because oh, I could just taste that freedom of having that extra time to dedicate to my writing. But obviously it wasn’t my time for that right now. And that’s okay. Because what this experience has given me is real clarity about what I do want. And that is, I do want less hours at the day job. I do want more time for my writing and marketing of my books. So that means, that I need to make a plan to get to that position with that as a reality.
So jealousy is a positive. It gives us direction. And so, really what I’m saying is, I challenge you too, that when you come face-to-face with something where you feel that little stab of envy within you, because somebody is doing something or has something that you want, really take a look at that. There’s no reason why you can’t have it too. Maybe it’s the wrong timing, like it is in my circumstance right now. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have it, or you can’t make plans to put yourself in the situation so that you have that in your life.
So pay attention to those moments, is what I’m saying there, because they, they are real blessing in disguise. And if you follow this podcast, because you believe in manifestation and the law of attraction and whatnot, then you know, that having clarity around what you want to create in your life, about what you want to attract is incredibly important. It is so important. And a lot of the time, the things that we think we’re trying to manifest in our lives won’t come about because we really haven’t got properly clear on what it is that we want. So pay attention to jealousy. Yeah.
6. Something that really got hammered home for me in 2022, is that, and I love this one, but writing can be easy. We are told all the time, and it pops up and memes on all the socials and that all the time, that writing is hard. You know, that we open a vein, bleed on the page, that we need to dig deep into the inner depths of our soul, to exorcise our demons onto the page. And I don’t know why we believe this. And it’s not that I haven’t felt this because I most certainly have, like I was saying earlier, my last published novel, Unspoken Truths, as much as I absolutely love that, it was hard work. It was brutal. I cried. I cried a lot writing that. And not just because it was hard, but because of what my characters were going through really upset me. So, what has been really nice about the last year is that I have realized the opposite of that. Which is writing can also be really easy.
Now I’m probably getting people’s nose out of joint by saying this, so please hear me out. Because I was having such a tough time continuing in the genre of that Gothic Suspense and doing the sequel to Unspoken Truths, I changed genre to Paranormal Cozy, and just allowed myself to play and have fun with it. You know, I studied books on the genre. I studied the market. I read lots and lots of books. I’ve been reading Paranormal Cozies and just Cozies in general for a long time anyway, so it wasn’t new to me. But writing in that genre was new to me.
But really, I just sit myself a few rules, and those rules were that it was going to have humor. It was going to be somewhat lighthearted despite the nature of the fact that there’s a murder, there’s a couple of murders. I was going to have to leave behind my foul language, which is tricky, even in writing. And it was going to be the type of book that if a 12 year old accidentally stumbled upon it, I wasn’t going to be getting angry letters from their parents, was pretty much how I saw it. And it was paranormal, so it’s got witches and magic and a cat with a really bad attitude, which probably isn’t really that fantastical. But I made it so that I had no real expectations around it, other than I was going to get it finished, and I was going to enjoy the process. So my mantra throughout the entire time that I wrote this book, and this book that I’m talking about is going to be called Hades’ Haunt, so hopefully it should be out in the first half of this year, 2023, my mantra was this is easy. This is fun and this is easy. And I said this all the time. Every time that self-doubt started to bubble up. If every time that imposter syndrome, every time I found myself, starting to go into that spiral of, oh my gosh, my words suck. This is nonsense. This is crap. I would repeat that to myself.
No, this is easy and this is fun. This is easy. This is fun. This is easy. This is fun. When I woke up in the morning and I knew I had to work on this book, I always visualized myself really feeling into that moment of what it was like to enjoy writing the book. I visualized how much fun it was going to be. When I was in the shower, I would repeat to myself how easy this book was. Every time I talked about writing this book I would tell my friends and my family and that, it is so much fun. It is so easy. And I also gave myself permission to be really messy with the first draft, which I try and do anyway. I’m very much of that school of thought of like, NaNoWriMo, where with your first draft, you just do a word dump and get all the words on the page and then you can go back and you can edit and you can correct for spelling and you can get rid of all the garbage and and whatnot. But your first draft is really just expunging yourself on the page, is really just getting all those words on the page.
And so I found that having that mindset, having those mantras, and not slipping from that, actually really did make the entire process really easy.
And my number 7. is really, writing this fun. In case we were ever in any doubt. And I know that people listening to this are like, well, of course it’s fun, otherwise, why would I do it? But I know that sometimes it doesn’t feel all that fun. And we can lose sight of that. And so having that reminder that writing can be fun, it’s something that I think is so important and such a great takeaway for me to have from last year. And I hope you have that too. I hope if you’re in doubt and you’re feeling a little bit burnt-out and maybe a bit over the whole thing, as we sometimes, get that you can find a way to go back to the fact that writing can be easy and writing can, and. I’m going to be a bit controversial in saying this, should be fun. It should be fun.
Writing is generally, not always, but generally a career that we choose, because we’re passionate about it. We don’t generally choose it first off because it pays millions. It can pay millions. Don’t get me wrong there. But it’s not what you’d sit around at a family dinner and say, oh, I’m marrying a writer, I’m now financially set for life. That’s not usually how these things work. So for most of us, we come to writing because we enjoy it. It speaks to our soul, and at some point we really loved it. So if you’re listening to this. And you’ve not been feeling that love lately. Maybe think about how you can get that feeling back, if you want to continue doing what you’re doing with your author life, your writing life.
So that was kind of number six and seven together.
8. Which has been such an important one, and I’ve already touched on this as well. Is that we all come to the path of writing in very different ways. Some of us always knew that we wanted to write, others came to this realization much later in life, or it was thrust on them and then they realized that they really enjoyed it. We all come to this path and this writing journey in different ways. And if you’ve been listening to this podcast, just listening to the stories from all the different authors and writers that I’ve interviewed, kind of showcased that.
But I think what’s important to remember is that our journeys along this writing path, our writing journey, we can take different transport to get to similar destinations. I know that’s a bit of a weird metaphor, but what I’m trying to say is that there is no one way to be a successful author. There is no one way to excel at marketing. There is no one way to write a really good book. And I won’t go in huge depth with this. I’m hoping by having listened to other episodes on Alchemy for Authors, you’re starting to come to this realization yourself, if you hadn’t already, that we can all find our own version of success in different ways. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another. Part of that is following our intuition a little bit. And if you want to hear a little bit more about that, then make sure you go back and re-listen to episode 20 of Alchemy for Authors, where I talk to the amazing Becca Syme, and she talks about intuition, and she talks about success, and she talks about how we can’t be fooled by this snake oil that so many self-professed experts out there, try and sell us that there is only one way to be a successful best-selling author or whatever it is that you’re striving for. Because there’s not.
And so that was really just number eight is that reminder really, that there is no one way to reach our destination on this writing journey. We’re all different and we need to embrace our differences. Embrace our strengths, embrace our passions and follow that path, you know? We’re much more likely going to find success. But also that feeling of purpose when we follow what feels right for us.
9. This is kind of a cool one for me. Um, I’ve mentioned a couple of times on this podcast, and I’ll probably do an episode in the next little while that goes a little bit more in depth with this, but at the beginning of 2022 I was formally diagnosed with ADHD. And it really changed my life. Just the diagnosis alone changed my life, let alone the medication and strategies that I was able to implement once I knew why I was struggling with all the things I’d been struggling with for my entire life.
But with ADHD, one of what I tend to think is a superpower, because there’s a lot of things that maybe lean a little bit more towards negatives in this day and age, when people think about ADHD, one of the positives is that, for myself anyway, I am really prone to hyper-focus when I’m doing things I enjoy and I love. Now, this is fantastic because obviously listening to me now, I enjoy and I love and am passionate about writing. And as I was writing my Paranormal Cozy, Hades’ Haunt, and I was loving the process and having so much fun, then my hyper-focus was a real blessing, particularly with meeting deadlines.
Now that’s kind of the same with this podcast as well, because I love doing this podcast. It’s the same with other stories and books and that, that I’ve written. When I’m doing something that I love and I have deadlines to meet, and I know I’ve talked about just prior that I struggled with meeting a lot of my deadlines last year, but I did also meet a lot of deadlines in various things, and one of the things that really helped me with that, and a real blessing in disguise was actually my ADHD hyper-focus. Because what that means is that when I get into something that I’m really enjoying, I can stay in that high vibe zone for a very long time. I can stay really productive and focused on what I’m doing. And maybe to other people, it looks like I’m achieving amazing, huge amounts of things in a short period of time, but it’s really just that I can get into that zone and I can stay there. And so realizing that my ADHD has a real positive impact upon my writing and upon my author career in general, is cool. Is really, really cool. Because, I mean, ADHD in itself stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Right? The name really doesn’t do this neurodiversity justice. It really, really doesn’t. Because so much of my problem is not that I have a deficit in attention, but that I’m paying too much attention to too many things at once. But the pendulum also swings when I can go really deep into full on, only being attentive to one thing. And it may not necessarily sound very healthy, but it has really helped me to be super productive in 2022, with this podcast and with reaching some of my writing goals despite a day job and other responsibilities going on in my life as well. So there’s my number nine. Yay for ADHD.
10. And I’ve got an entire episode dedicated to this if you go back to, I think one of my very beginning episodes of Alchemy for Authors, but in case anybody else out there needs a reminder. I am always reminded of this one. So this one that I wanted to share. But cheerleaders, the cheerleaders in our life, they are hella important. Oh my gosh. Like, those people who are there for us cheering us on when we’re really struggling to reach our goals, or we’re having a bad day with our writing, or whatever it is, but those people who are there in the background who want to see us succeed, who. are, just gently supporting us in big or small ways. It doesn’t really matter. But those people, I tend to think of them as our cheerleaders. And gosh, they’re… they are just so important. And I think it’s really good to reflect on who those people are and just not take them for granted, because as much as I said, writing’s not hard, writing can be easy, achieving anything or going after any kind of passion in your life, is definitely made more complicated and trickier if we don’t have people cheering us on.
And so, I mean, this is a big shout out to all of you listeners. So many of you I’m in contact with, on social media and I’ve met through social media and you’ve just been amazing at supporting me and listening to this and giving feedback and I just appreciate it from the deepest part of my heart. I really do. And then there are just the phenomenal people like some of my family members, my husband, oh my gosh. My husband. Yeah, he is a saint for pretty much putting up with me in so many ways. But also because he’s a saint with putting that put the fact that I go into hyper-focus when I’m writing or doing podcasting and those kinds of things, and so things like household chores or cooking dinner or other things can fall by the wayside and at times his very much like a, an author widow, I guess. Um, But he still sticks beside me, and he seems to believe in me and yeah, and I just love him to the moon and back. And there are also amazing, wonderful people like some of the people at my day job who know about me having all these cool things on the side, like writing books and doing this podcast, who listen and celebrate with me and just have no idea how much they encourage me to keep going just by their kind words and, and all of that. My amazing editor, who I have really just. Wow. Um, Probably put her through a lot over the last year with pushing back deadlines and asking for extensions and all that fun stuff and she is amazing. And again, if you scroll back through some of these episodes, you’ll find that I actually had the wonderful Hannah Sullivan on Alchemy for Authors, a little while back talking about all things editing. But oh my gosh, she’s amazing. And there are really just, there are too many people. I’m really blessed that there are so many people out there who are my cheerleaders. But again, I think it is just so important. It’s not really something that I learnt in 2022, that cheerleaders are important. But it’s something that I was reminded of. That we need people. And we need to remember to be grateful for these amazing people in our lives. And if you’re one of them listening to this right now, thank you so much for being in my awesome inner circle of just wonderful cheerleaders.
Okay. 11. Uh, I don’t even really know how to explain this one, but number 11 is the thing that I want everybody to know if they haven’t experienced this already. And when I say this, if you feel that little stab of jealousy or envy, it sounds a bit conceited, but if you do, um, just remember that that emotion will give you direction, hopefully to propel you forward as to achieving this as well. Yeah, it really does sound conceited, but I’m just going to say: number 11 of what I learned last year is that nothing feels as good, in my mind and my opinion, as living your purpose.
Nothing feels as good as feeling like you’re doing that thing that you were put here on earth to do. That you are reaching the people that you need to reach, that need to hear your voice, that need your words, that need to feel the emotions that you bring up for them through your words in whatever form that is. And I have very much felt in 2022, and I hope that extends into this year as well. I’ve really felt that I have been doing that thing that I have been put here on earth to do. And it’s not even really just one thing, it’s just knowing that I am actively trying to be the best version of myself, and through doing the things that light me up the most I’m somehow encouraging other people to do that as well. And I am lighting them up in a way as well. And I’m sorry if that sounds a little kind of egotistical and whatnot, but until you really feel that inside you, that you are contributing in a positive way, that you’ve got something good to offer and that. Not that you’re perfect because, oh my gosh, like 90% of the time I am really just one hot mess. But, through this podcast, and through writing, and through teaching writing, those three aspects of things in my life that I had throughout 2022, I really felt like I was touching upon my reason for being here. And, yeah. Feels really good. Really good. So if you can find those things that light you up, and put some energy into them, because you won’t regret it. You really won’t.
12. This is a craft one. I have learnt the hard way, and hopefully this lesson is finally sinking in properly, but, maybe I should say I am learning that I need to plot. And I’m sure many of you listening to this are plotters anyway, that’s great. I know there’s those words, you know, plotters and pantsers, I’m kind of, I’ve kind of always been a bit of a discovery writer, I think is what they call them where, you know, I’ll have a few scenes in my mind of what’s going to happen in the story and maybe a couple of characters, and then I just put pen to paper, or really fingers to keyboard, and start writing and whatever happens happens. And it’s amazing because it means in every story that I write, there are always those moments where I’m so involved in the story, I’m like, oh, my gosh, I never saw that coming. It’s like reading a book as I’m writing it for the first time. Uh, full of these amazing moments of discovery, I guess. I guess that’s why they call it discovery writing.
But I have also noticed with my last few books, maybe all of my books and stories probably that I’ve ever written, but it has definitely been more noticeable last year. That my wonderful inspired way of writing without a full plot has meant that I always write twice as much. And by that, I mean my word count is always twice as much as it should really be, which creates a very tough time consuming mess of editing to try and work through at the very end. And I often have to rewrite my stories as well, because they’re usually littered with little and consistencies and plot holes because I am just writing whatever the muse is giving and going with the flow and often getting lost along the way. So I hope that makes sense. But my lesson from 2022 is that I think I really need to invest a little bit more time looking into a plotting method that will work for me. So that going forth, like I’ve got so many books that I want to get to this year, including the sequel to Unspoken Truths, my Gothic Suspense book, and a sequel to my paranormal Cozy. But I think before I really dive in with both of those, I need to have a little bit more of a clear picture about the story as a whole ,the plot. How it’s all going to work together. And I think that’s going to help me with efficiency. And I think that is going to make editing a million times easier as well. So do feel free if you have an amazing way of plotting that you think might help me, um, do make sure that you listen to the end of this episode, or check out my show notes so you can contact me and let me know, cause I am open to suggestions as to where to go to from here.
All right. 13. An ongoing lesson for me is that I need to get better with setting boundaries. And I’m sure I’m not the only one listening to this who probably has been learning this lesson the hard way. What I mean by that is my writing, obviously, is very important to me but I don’t always have good boundaries around it, and that I can let other aspects of my life takeover and steal from it, in a sense. So. I’ve had real difficulty in myself setting strong boundaries with my day job. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I like to do my best, really with whatever I do. So I tend to give 110 as much as I can, to whatever I’m doing. But what that means is that I can sometimes go overboard with stuff. And so I am aware that a lot of the extra hours I put into my day job for instance, are not because of the workload necessarily, but because I am putting into much that I don’t really need to put into it. Which sounds a little silly, and I’m not talking about quiet quitting, or any of those kind of terms. I’m just like, meaning. I sometimes go overboard. And so instead of just doing what’s expected of me, I will do more than what’s expected. And forgetting that in a lot of instances, the amount of time it would take most people to do something it quite often takes me twice as long, partially because of perfectionism and partially, I think really, because of my form of ADHD.
It also means that I sometimes don’t say no to things that I should. Or I do say no, but then I feel really, really guilty and kind of beat myself up for it. So that is sometimes things like work things that go into weekends and evenings that I go along with, even though I know I’ve got a deadline, and they’re going to impact on a writing deadline, but my sense of obligation kind of outweighs that where as I could actually just say no. It’s a really tough one. And one that I’ve probably been working on most of my life, actually is setting boundaries. It takes a lot of courage, not letting other aspects of your life take over and impact on the things important to you. But it’s something that is a lesson that I’m taking forward into 2023 with me, that I need to work on and get better at.
14. Which is a bit of a random one. Like I said, these are not in order. But what I have noticed over this last year, or being reminded of is actually, in regards to kids, to children, and that is, kids love to write. As if we didn’t know that. But I have worked in education for quite a few years and we’re often told that, uh, boys in particular, for some reason, don’t enjoy writing or they really struggle with writing. They’re not engaged and whatnot. In my time in education, I haven’t found that, I’ve always found that the boys in my class, are super engaged in writing and eager to get their words on paper and share this stories. But I think what I have realized over the last year is kids love to write when they’ve got passionate writing role models around them. And when they’re encouraged to write and when they’re shown all the goodness that writing and literature and stories and that holds within. And so, maybe this is, something you can take away with you if you’ve got children. You’re probably doing a brilliant job because if you’re listening to this and you have children then you’re probably showing them already that writing is amazing. That they know through you how engaging writing can be. And I think, we teach best what we’re passionate about. And so I have just noticed for myself that when kids are around people who are passionate about writing, it allows them the avenue for their own self expression. They’re more likely going to want to write and share their voice as well, which is a pretty damn cool thing. Yeah, I guess that’s common sense, but just something that I’ve reflected on and noticed this year.
15. For myself, and this is not going to be true of everybody at all, but for myself, I have noticed that I write better in bigger blocks of time. Probably a lot of people will agree with me, that they feel that way too, but I have lost count of how many books I’ve read, and how many people I’ve heard preach that if you want to write, you can do it in five minutes, you can do it in 15 minute increments, you can do it while you’re watching your child playing sports, or you can do it during the television commercial, or you can do it while you’re standing in line at the supermarket, or waiting for an appointment at the doctor’s or whatnot. If that works for you, and you can write in those short increments at a time, then that’s amazing. That’s wonderful. I am really happy for you. I have just learnt that that does not work for me.
I’m sure there’ll be people that will argue well, you can still like take notes and think about character or plot or whatnot. Yeah, I can definitely do that. Most of the time. But as far as writing goes, I need a decent amount of time. And again, this might just be a ADHD thing or just the way my brain works anyway, but whenever I sit down to do something, there’s usually a good 15 minutes or more, that I need to kind of get into the project. Once I’m into the project, hyperfocus kicks in and I can write for forever. But there is that period, right at the very beginning where I just can’t and waiting at the doctors, or waiting in line, or catching 15 minutes or five minute increments here or there. Doesn’t work for me, my brain doesn’t work like that at all. And so really this is just, it’s something that I’ve learned about myself and become comfortable with, and it’s something that I wanted to share in case you’re the same. And you’re just feeling a bit, self-conscious about the fact that people are always preaching, if you really want to write, you can do it in those small moments. And if you’re thinking, well, what’s wrong with me because I can’t. Then you’re not alone. I feel that same way too.
16.. This is one that is kind of, um, I don’t want to say common sense, but is something that I think a lot of people feel the same way about. So it’s really not anything new. But, I have definitely had the reminders in 2022, that showers are brilliant for brainstorming as, are commutes and car trips. So with a change of job last year, my commute got cut down considerably from, like 35, 40 minutes to two minutes. And I actually used to really enjoy my commute. It was just me in my car on my own, going out into the country. And I would have the best brainstorming sessions in my car about the stories that I was going to be working on and writing in the evenings when I got home from work. It was really good for working out pain points in my plot, uh, for inspiration. My brain when I was in the car. Just, um, I don’t know, seem to go into that really creative mode where those ideas would percolate and I could use that later on.
In 2022, as my commute got cut down to two minutes. I lost that time. And I found it really hard, not having that time, just to percolate those ideas and think about my story. But, and I’m sure many other people feel this way, too, showers are excellent for this. Probably not great for the environment, taking long showers and using up that water. But I have found that when I’ve been really, really stuck, that’s where I get my best ideas and my best inspiration. So maybe if this is something that’s new to you and you’ve been stuck on a plot point or something in your story, maybe go have a shower. I don’t know. Might help or go for a drive. Just an idea there.
17. Another thing that’s really not all that new. And I’ve heard so many writers and authors talk about and, um, I tend to agree with them with this one here. But for myself and for my writing practice I need to be working on my project every day. I need those big blocks of interrupted time. Meaning that not only do I need to write in blocks of time, like an hour or more, but I need to be investing some time and energy into my project every single day. If I miss a day, which I often do, it really sets me back. It’s not the best use of my time, because then when I come back to my story, I’ve forgotten important plot points or I’ve forgotten what I was writing. I’m just kind of out of that zone and I’ve got to backtrack and try and get back into the story again. And that’s a real struggle. So I need to be working on whatever project I’m doing every day. So what that means is that if I’m writing a novel too, I kinda need to dedicate myself to that and that novel alone for an expanse of time until it is finished. And then I can start a new project. That is something that I learned last year and I’m going to try really hard this year to make sure that I am doing that, that I’m not losing a day on a project, which actually sets me further back. Instead, when I start a project, I want to be working on it even just a little bit, every single day.
18. In case any of us had forgotten, and maybe sometimes we do, because apparently I had, reading is fun. And reading for fun is important. So I know for myself quite often, I get caught up with reading all the books that I feel I should read so that I can learn this and I can learn that. So I’m reading all the self-help personal development or marketing and craft books for writing. And I’m enjoying that, but I’m not actually just reading for fun. So I’m a fiction writer. And it’s kind of apalling how long I can go without reading any fiction. And I know, when I was at university and I was studying creative writing, our lecturers would always preach about writers are readers first. You can’t be a good writer if you’re not reading. And, I remember one guy arguing with the teacher about that because he said, well, he never read. And he was a writer and I read some of his stories, and I heard him read them out and, yeah, he was a really good writer, too. But I found it really hard to believe that he didn’t read.
Now this isn’t a judgment because maybe he didn’t, maybe he just, I don’t know, had that innate talent and didn’t really read much, but I find for myself that it is important that I am reading for fun. That I’m enjoying literature, that I’m reading within my genre as well. Like, and not just from a marketing perspective, but we learn a lot just through the osmosis of stories, reading stories. But, for me anyway, reading for fun does kind of fill my creative well, a little bit. It’s one of those feel-good things that I think when we’re doing things that bring us joy, whatever they are, whether it’s playing a musical instrument, or gardening, or just reading for fun then we’re more likely going to be able to tune into that creative muse that helps us with our writing as well.
19. So I have known this for a long time. But it really started to hit home a little bit more last year. And I still find this unusual, but there are, believe it or not, and I’m sure you’ve experienced this too, but there are people out there who actually think we are crazy for writing. That we are crazy for enjoying writing. That we are crazy that we would invest this much time and energy and focus on writing books or novels or articles. And I guess this goes with everything, you know, like there’s always those friends who are in professions that absolutely love what they’re doing and we’re giving them a weird look because we just don’t get it.
And, I’ve had that a lot from people, like close friends and family members and that, who are just like, oh my gosh, you’re spending all this time writing. Like, why? Ooh, I can’t think of anything worse. That sounds horrible. That sounds like being back at school and having homework. And they’ve got all these negative ideas around writing, which. To be honest, I get it. Writing is not for everybody. Yeah, just like everything. Some people are gonna love it. Some people aren’t.
Where this can be interesting though, is when we take other people’s opinions of what we do and let it impact on how we feel about it. And I have had that come up. I’m usually able to stomp on it pretty damn fast. But when remarks have been made about how people just don’t understand why I would devote so much time and energy and give up social events and everything else to write a book, it can make me at times second guess myself. It can make me feel a little bit guilty. And it can make me feel a little bit like I’m a boring person. Now, I don’t know if anybody else has ever come across this. And maybe it’s me. I have a bit of a hangup. I had a boyfriend once who would always just go on and on about how boring I was. And it’s one of those words, I just, I hate the word boring. I do. But, you know, like other people’s opinions of my passion sometimes can get under my skin a little bit, and make me question if what I’m doing as right. If I should be doing what I’m doing. And you know, when I look into that more, I know that it’s all it’s all crap. Like we can’t live our lives based on other people’s opinions and other people’s thoughts about what we do. We need to do what makes us feel good. What lights us up. Do those things where we contribute best to the world.
But I think it is something that I’ve learnt to be aware of, is the impact of other people’s thoughts on what I do. And so if you’re listening to this and maybe you’ve had people, and maybe they’ve said it in ways that has just been well-meaning, it hasn’t actually meant to be said in a bad way, but they’re making comments about how they could never do what you’re doing because, oh, that would be so boring or such a time suck or anything else, then we need to make sure that we can move past that, not take it personally and just kind of let it go, I guess. Not let it get under our skin.
20. One of my takeaways from things that I learned in 2022. This is probably a strange one for me to say on my podcast, because you’re probably thinking, well, you’ve said this before. And you’re somewhat right. But my realization from last year was that I really do want to make a living doing what I’m doing with my writing. I really do want to make a living writing, helping others, helping other writers, so like teaching, writing, and doing this podcast. These are the things that really make me happy and made me feel like I’m being the best version of myself.
Yeah. I’ve talked about this on episodes before where, yeah, I would love to write full time and I would love this to be a full time career and everything else. But I’ve always said it without being fully invested in that as an idea. And I think that’s why I’ve not yet manifested that for myself. Because it was always a yeah, maybe, but I’m also kind of happy just doing what I’m doing. And just kind of going with the flow. And so there was no intentionality behind creating that as a future for myself. And so I think, particularly as I came up to the end of 2022, that has shifted a little bit more, and I’m starting to think of more long term ways to create that as a reality. And I’m not quite sure what that looks like. Or what timeframe I want to put on that just yet. I’ve got a bit of work to do around that, and that’s why I’m going to be diving into Joanna Penns Author Business Plan course again.
But my enjoyment and the impact that I seem to be having by sharing my enthusiasm for writing and the author life and all that good stuff, has really shown me that it is something that I want to pursue further, and maybe a little bit more seriously than I have been up till now. So just like when I spent years and years and years talking about, I want to be an author. I want to be an author, but not actually writing any books, I feel like I have been doing that where it’s been, I want to have an author career and be a full-time author, and make my living as an author. But I haven’t really taken it seriously and made the big moves that I need to to make that a reality. So that is something that I am going to look more into this year. Not, what I’m necessarily looking at creating for 2023. But building the foundations for us that I can move toward that over the next few years. So, yeah. 2022 gave me some clarity as to my future directions and goals.
So that kind of wraps up my 20 things that I’ve learned from writing in 2022. And maybe, that’s inspired you to reflect on your own writing process, and your own journey so far, and last year, and the things that you learnt and things that you want to change up going forward.
I would love to hear some of your ahas and your insights on that from last year. So you can email me. I’ll make sure that’s in the show notes or you can connect with me on Facebook or Instagram, all the usual places. And of course those links will be in the show notes as well.
If you’re interested as a reader in reading any of my previous books or short stories or staying in touch with my future launches that I’m going to be having this year, then make sure you do go check out my website, which is just https://jobuer.com. There’s also links through to Alchemy for Authors and all the previous episodes and the transcript and all of that good stuff as well. I also have two newsletters that you can check out and sign up to, if you want to on that website. One is my reader newsletter for my fiction books and everything. And the other one is specifically for Alchemy for Authors. And then if you want to support me in any way or my books or this podcast or whatever, leaving reviews is a great way to do that. Tagging me on socials is another great way to do that. Or you can even check out, www.buymeacoffee.com/jobuer. Uh, that’s another way you can support me as well.
But I am going to leave you to enjoy a wonderful start to the New Year. And I encourage you to go back, reflect on last year. Think about what your goals are for this year. Make those business plans. Set all those goals and those intentions. And most of all, just find a way going forth to really enjoy your writing. Enjoy the writing process. And enjoy your life because that’s what it’s all about.
Alright, until next time, my friends. Bye.