Word Sweatshop Shutdown

The more books I write, the better I feel like I get to know myself as an author. I’m trying out a new approach at the moment that is, so far, working out well. In a different way than my previous approach worked out well. Let me explain.

My brain cells during a 3,000 word-a-day writing session.

My brain cells during a 3,000 word-a-day writing session.

In the past, I’ve jumped headfirst into new projects and immersed myself to exclusion of all else. The minute my kids were down for naps, I’d sprint to my computer and force out as many words as possible. I’d end up with some spectacular word counts at the end of those days, upward of 3,000 words a day on many days, and be done with my first drafts in about a month and a half.

Pretty great, right? Lots of momentum, continuity, and focus, and no languishing over drafts for months at a time.

The down side to this sweatshop approach, however, was that my kids and husband would have to deal with an exhausted, distracted, stressed-out me every day during writing season. I was productive, but not at my best for my family.

I’ve come to the realization that if I’m going to be a writer, I should just be a writer. That sounds weird, so I’ll elaborate. Writing should be something I just do, not something that shuts my whole life down for a few months at a time. I’m a mother, I can’t afford to shortchange my kids for weeks on end every time I’m working on something new.

Just being a writer is a much slower way of doing things, but I (and my family) like it a lot better. My daily word counts are piddly (I’m lucky if I break 1,000 words a day unless it’s a Saturday) but I’m a lot happier and, to my surprise, the work is of better quality (in my humble opinion). Go figure.

I think this is the benefit of being a relatively unknown author at the moment. I have liberty to experiment with who I am as an author before the pressure of being anything bigger has a chance to set in. I may never make it as a big time author, but I’m grateful for the journey.

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