So here are three self care tips for writers that I trust will help prevent you from becoming one of those writers with burnout. Don’t leave your stories untold!
- Give yourself permission to be angry. Then let it go.
Get up on the nearest table or stand on the back deck and shout out to the world “it’s wrong that my publisher won’t do the marketing for me”. Or "it's wrong that on one can find my book in Amazon!". Or make it shorter and just shout “it’s wrong!”. Feel the anger. (Hide any knives or heavy objects first.) Let it flow down to your toes and the tips of your fingers. Wiggle your fingers. Then take three deep breaths and each time as you breath out … let it go. Imagine the frustration and anger flowing out of you with each exhalation. Sounds daft? Try it. You might want to wait for everyone to be out but then let rip. Believe me, it works. You may have to do it more than once but just do it!
- Give yourself permission to be a pragmatist It’s much less stressful.
We all know that the world is not perfect. It’s a wonderful place by and large, but it’s full of imperfect humans and imperfect structures and systems. It’s wonderful to be an idealist and to clearly be able to see what should be done and by whom and when. But it’s exhausting. The reality is that you can’t change what’s out of your power to change. If a publisher can’t or won’t do your marketing or do enough of it (as they should, says the idealist), then be a pragmatist.. Railing against the way the world of publishing has changed will sap your energy and your spirits. Your editor may well know that they could or should be doing more for you. The trouble is that in this 21st century world of lean organisational structures and piling on the workload under the mantra of ‘productivity’ they don’t have any more resources. You want to sell more of your books? So do they. Work together on it. Be a helpful pragmatist!
- Give yourself permission to spend time on book marketing.
Now you’ve got over your anger (or are starting to) and put the idealism aside for a few minutes (but not forever, because the world needs idealists), give yourself permission to do a bit of book marketing.
The key is to have a plan.
If you just fiddle about you’ll be back at point one very quickly because you’ll have invested precious time and not got any results, or not got any results that take you anywhere useful. With a plan you just do a bit every day and then move on to something else. Think of it like emptying the dishwasher or going to the supermarket, but more fun. It’s a routine task. But imagine if you emptied the dishwasher and just shoved the plates and forks in any old cupboard. Or went to the supermarket and bought a random selection of food. What use would it be if you got home and found you had a bottle of Domestos, a packet of dry pasta and a box of Weetbix? Have you any idea how many people do this with their book marketing? Because they had no list and no goals. Is it any wonder some get so frustrated that they want to throw plant pots? Write a plan with some goals and then just do it. Doesn’t have to be the world’s best plan. It just need to be a reasonable plan. As they say in therapy circles “it just needs to be good enough”. That’s not an excuse to be slapdash. It’s permission to not be perfect every time. Allocate some time each day (five minutes is enough once you have it up and running). And then just make it happen.
Does any of that sound like you? Why not try it? Tell me how you go. I’d love to hear.