Shop Talk: Give Yourself Credit for What You're Doing
Transcript (CC also available in video):
00:00 Hi everyone. It has been a while since I've done a shop talk video. I think my last one may honestly have been May, and this is part and parcel of this month's topic now that I'm finally getting back to it. I've been very busy this year and I kept allowing things to pile up and rather than being patient with myself and forgive myself for doing one thing instead of working on another because it pushed back the the schedule. I have been trying to get everything done but the shop talk videos were easy to kind of let go because I'd like to do them at the end of the month and then suddenly, it would be the middle of the next month and I'd say, well, I guess I will catch up and do another one at the end of this month, and so on and so forth. But my topic this month is be patient with yourself and give yourself credit for what you are getting done.
00:55 Even if it's not the things that you feel you should be getting done or feel like you're not getting enough done. The last time I did a shop talk video, I believe I was just adding a, another novel to my pile of things that I wanted to write this year, which included already a novel, a novella, and a season of Patreon content, including illustrations in June. My company that I work for puts on a big conference and that was over at the end of June. And I really thought that just the skies would clear and everything would open up and I would be able to reproduce my peak performance, which was writing 88,000 words in 25 days—which let's be clear, I have not done since November, 2016. That was my NaNoWriMo, um, season in which I wrote Salvage and Salvage is book two of my Peridot Shift trilogy.
01:53 And I wrote that in 2016. Mind you, this was before I had, um, sold the trilogy to a publisher. So I was not in the publishing phase of my life yet. So somehow though, I still thought I would be able to write a whole novel in one month because I'd done it before. I also wrote Flotsam pretty much in one month once I started with a clean draft in 2— earlier in 2016. So I did this twice in one year. And this is now the standard to which my brain has set myself. However, my brain does not give me credit for the short stories I've written this year. Um, it has not given me credit for the novellas. It has not given me credit for the fact that I've had to revise novels. And so I need to step back and recognize what I'm getting done.
02:44 And so I'm pretty sure if I need to hear this, there's someone out there who also needs to hear this. So be patient with yourself, but give yourself permission to be proud of the things that you do get done, even if you don't topple the list and don't stick to the schedule that you imagine when these were all just dreams and ideas and not the actual effort that needed to go into it and did not, um, interact with your daily life in any way. But, so the key of what I was just describing is that it will be almost impossible to recreate the situations, the same conditions, for each project. So in November of 2016, like I said, I wasn't already publishing. I didn't have anything to revise. I didn't have, you know, I didn't have lots of this stuff going on that I have going on now.
03:37 I didn't have daily YouTube videos. Actually, I take that back. I did have daily YouTube videos at that point. Um, but I didn't have a podcast. I didn't have, um, you know, a Patreon to manage. I didn't have revisions to finish things up so they could go out for publication. And I just had a clear November during which I had scheduled as the municipal liaison for my NaNoWriMo region. I had scheduled gobs and gobs of write-ins, so I had lots of time, very few distractions, and nothing on my plate, like no freelance design work that needed my attention, nothing like that. Um, and so it was day job and writing on the weekends and writing in the mornings. And I already had a habit and it wasn't, um, compressed by needing to do other things. So I wrote 88,000 words in 25 days. That's not a boast, that's just the fact of what I did that month.
04:39 I'd also written Flotsam, um, about 68,000 words in roughly the same period of time earlier that year. So this is now what I think I'm capable of. And that was 2016. One: surprise. It's three years later, I'm older, I have more work on my plate all the time, and I still want to write a novel in a single month because I've seen myself do it. How could I be slipping, you know, but I'm not slipping. There's all this other stuff going into it. So in that year, I wrote two drafts of two novels and then in the following years I revised those. And that was pretty much all I did. I worked on revising them. I wrote a couple of short stories. I started, um, I started The Bantam in 2017, preparing for my Patreon that was going to launch in 2018. So I had, I had things that I was adding to my plate, but they, you know, like I was in so far as what I was creating wholesale, or from whole cloth, it was not that much.
05:49 But in my mind it's the same. I should be able to do this. It's the same. So here we are, skip another year 2018. Um, I wrote all of the, um, Phantom traveler season for my Patreon subscribers and that got delayed a little bit by also wanting to write book three of my trilogy. Um, spoilers. I didn't get to it because book two needed major revisions and, um, there was some delay and miscommunication earlier in the year and suddenly we were working on this very fast and making very large changes. So also to keep in mind that 85,000 words I wrote in 20— or 88,000 words I wrote in 25 days ended up changing a lot. So it wasn't like a near perfect draft anyway. So, um, yeah, 2018 did not go as planned. My NaNoWriMo was completely overtaken by the fact that I needed to revise this, uh, major— do this major revision on a book.
06:59 And so I've sort of been trying to catch up ever since and it doesn't feel like I ever will, but I still believe that I can. And at the same time, I switched jobs. I had to deal with working in this space, which I love this space, but it was very different to suddenly be able to say I have all day and these tasks and I'll get them done however I see fit, which is not nearly the same thing as clocking in in a job, being there for eight hours and doing that stuff for eight hours and then coming home and finding time to work on other things. When you have less time, things take less time, if that makes sense. When you have all the time in the world, things seem to expand like emergency foam to fill that space. And um, yeah. So everything that I did took more time somehow because I felt that I had more time to give it.
07:55 And, um, so I switched jobs, but I still do a little bit of freelance for the old job. I still do freelance. And last year there was a lot of freelance. I did, um, five book layouts last year in addition to my own work and it was just a lot. And also last year I re-laid out The Bantam. I got a new cover, I did a new editing pass on it. Like there's a lot that's been going on, but in my mind I released two books in 2018 and didn't draft a new novel like I planned to even though I pretty much rewrote one and made it much bigger. So here we are in 2019, and I'm trying to do it all again, but more. So you can see where this is going. Every year I'm compounding the problem and putting this pressure on myself and not fully giving myself time to relax and enjoy what I do get done.
08:52 So this year, I've written, well I co-wrote a short story. I edited another one that had written at the end of December of last year and that one's been going around. So at a certain point I gave it another pass with the edits and um, Oh yeah. What else? Okay. Well I worked on Patreon content. I got a little bit behind on it when I started thinking of that other novel that I was going to work on. March, I wrote 30,000 words of book three of my Peridot Shift trilogy between June and so far, I have written over 50,000 words of another novel that I'll announce at some point in the future. And then also I decided, hey, it's time, get, um, the Patreon content from last year out as a novel. So I cl— I edit— well, I revised, hired an editor and cleaned up and published The Silent Fringe.
09:50 I also obviously got cover art that I was working with Galen Dara, who also did the cover for The Bantam. Um, so we have a book release that I rather suddenly put out in August, August 27th, the week before Salvage, which this year, went through two more rounds of revisions. We did the ARCs, we did, you know, all that stuff. And this came out on September 3rd, and that is a chonky ass book. It is um, significantly longer than Flotsam, significantly longer than Flotsam. I did the JK Rowling, um, sequel expansion thing, program. Um, so yeah, this one's bulked up and this came out in September.
10:43 Um, while I was getting all those things in production, I was also finishing the very first draft of this book, working with the developmental editor on it, working with a copy editor on it, working with two separate cover artists because my first cover artist, um, due to personal reasons had to back out, and releasing this in October.
11:05 So of course, why wouldn't I be hard on myself because I haven't written two full size, full length novels in the same year and also all the short stories that I want to submit to things? But I mean, okay, I'll take Flotsam back out of the pile. But I published three freaking books in three months. I wrote a short story. I, um, wrote 90,000 words of two other novels and I, you know, manage the publication, the marketing, the promotion. Um, I've been running a podcast, you know, I, I forgot to mention that when I was talking about all the things I added to stuff, it was the end of 20— um, well it was the middle of 2018 when I started podcast Hybrid Author Publishing or the Hybrid Author Podcast. It's been awhile. And then I lost my podcast cohost earlier, like almost immediately earlier this year, right after we announced our intention to co-write a book together and all the other publishing things we were going to do this year for our, um, January episode.
12:13 And then he got a new job and didn't have that time anymore. So that took into consideration. Then you think, okay, so you freed yourself up to do some podcasts, uh, or you freed yourself up to not have to do the podcasts? But now almost immediately Colin Coyle from Parvus Press, my publisher, pops out of the woodwork and says, you should continue doing podcasting, but here do it with uh Kaelyn Considine of Parvus Press. She's wanted to do one. And now, Kaelyn and I are doing a podcast. Um, we are slightly more manageable in that we do it every other week, however she comes and visits me to record these and then we have a nice big weekend of hanging out and all this kind of stuff. So, um, it's not just recording one episode, um, every other week for an hour on Zoom or Skype or whatever. It's a whole weekend each time.
13:07 Which I am not complaining about. It's fantastic. And I love the social time and we've been really bonding this year, but it's just, it's, it's more this year I've done more and I've expected more of myself. So this is me expecting the same output, as though I'm doing everything the same. Which is 100% not true. I'm also older and busier and I have less energy to spare, because I am not giving myself recuperation time between all these projects. And sometimes you're just going to run out of energy and if you don't build in the acceptance of that, uh, time to rest, then your body will take it out of the schedule that you think you have time for.
13:55 So all of that means that when I do sit down to write, I am feeling pressured to achieve the things that I've planned to do that haven't happened yet. And one lesson that I've been very mindful of the past couple of months is that I need, and so I suggest that you also need, to make sure that as your publication and your writing schedule gets busier, that when you do sit down to write, you allow yourself to enjoy it. Because for a while this year, I was not allowing myself to enjoy it. It was "let me finish this so I can go work on that other thing." And I don't know when I intended to build in happiness for these projects. I mean, I'm doing this 'cause I love writing. Um, but it was starting to get to the point where I was doing things because I loved having gotten them done. And that's not the same thing.
14:54 There is a nice dopamine rush for checking things off a to-do list. Believe me, I know I am the queen of drawing boxes next to the items on my list so I can fill them in. But, um, if you only do things so that you have done them, uh, I wonder where the joy is. And so this year I started to wonder where my joy was, and being more mindful of that, uh, has helped. It really has. When I start to get really stressed and get blocked, I remember "this is the part that I wanted to do. This is the part that I'm supposed to lose myself in." And then that does make it easier to lose myself in that part.
15:34 So that's my suggestion. If you are anxious over deadlines or anxious over not having written anything, try to enjoy the moment during what you are drafting and writing and coming up with new words because that's why we're all here. I think. I mean, I can't speak for everyone, but that's why I'm here. I want to share those words eventually.
16:00 And that's where the publication focus comes in. And then maybe the dopamine rush of having published things. Apparently, you know, I've got a problem. Um, it's a different— it, it doesn't last as long I think as the joy of enjoying writing. Um, so that's my suggestion is: back off a little on your thinking of everything as a deadline or thinking of everything as a task item and start to just be present in what you want to do each moment and enjoy it and even try to be present in the things that you don't want to do. And maybe there's joy to be found in them. Just a suggestion.
16:43 So having said that, it is November now. It is NaNoWriMo and I have to go to another, write-in. I don't have to go, I set it up, I enjoy these and I'm going to go lose myself in the joy of writing for a little while and not think about how this is the novel I thought I'd be done with by the end of July, because that was the plan.
17:02 So I'm back. I'm going to try and get back to these, um, shop talks and I don't know what I will be talking about at the end of November yet, because I don't know what I'm going to learn this month. And, um, I hope you learned something too and I hope, I hope you learn how to enjoy your, your work again, if you haven't been lately.
17:23 Thank you for watching and I will talk to you in a month. And of course you can always find me on Twitter at bittybittyzap on Instagram, same username and you can find me patreon.com/RJTheodore. If you find these videos encouraging or useful or helpful, uh, your financial support would be appreciated if you can't support me financially. Just sharing my tweets and posts. And of course, leaving ratings and reviews for my books, um, would be amazing. Um, if you can't afford to buy my books, please request them from your local library. They can all be found, um, all be, um, ordered by a library, even myself published ones. And, um, check out the, We Make Books podcast, which I started this year with Kaelyn Considine as previously mentioned. Um, I'm really proud of what we're doing and people seem to really be finding it helpful. So, um, and we also get along great. So the rapport is great too. All right, so that's WMBcast.com. I will talk to you in a month. Good luck everyone. Find joy, please, and be well.