How Do You Cope with the In-betweens?

@Brian Jackson – Stock.Adobe.Com

For Indie Authors, sending off your finished manuscript to the book formatters is like bursting through the finish line after a long, arduous race.  You prop up your feet. Have a glass of champagne. Binge watch that murder mystery series you’ve heard so much about. Life is good.

Then bouts of boredom set in. A few hours of aimless wandering take you away from the next story in your queue. You begin to get a bit restless until you remember a few home improvement projects you’ve been putting off. A week goes by without one word written. You’ve entered the dreaded “In-Betweens!”

I experienced the “In-Betweens” a few weeks ago when I completed The Obsidian Gates, Book Two in my Heart of the Warrior series. Book Three is all outlined and ready for me to start writing. I just couldn’t force my brain to focus on the new story when I felt Book Two wasn’t “done” yet.

I’m happy to report the dreaded “In-Betweens” has ended and I’ve started writing Book Three in earnest. How did I kick the In-Between Blues? I’m not 100% positive how I did it. One day I woke up and was motivated to start writing again.

Here are a few possible reasons:

  • I let go of Book Two and accepted The Obsidian Gates was in someone else’s hands during this stage of the publishing process
  • I reminded my creative brain working on Book Three won’t be the same soul crushing daily drudgery as doing final edits for Book Two. We’re at the fun step – story creation
  • I gave myself permission to write a crappy draft rather than trying to force perfection. I’ll save the angst of unachievable perfection for draft four

How do you beat the In-Between Blues? Share in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you and get a few ideas!

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Note For An Absent Friend

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This wasn’t what I’d plan to post today. Death tends to derail plans and force you to think about uncomfortable life lessons. Tuesday, my team lost one of our “Thought Leaders”. I despise this trendy title, but it does suit what he was. Though we weren’t close friends, he had a great impact upon my career in innovation.

Death and its cohort, Grief, are harsh teachers. These are the life lessons I’ve remember this week (inspired by our absent friend):

  • Follow your passion, no matter who tries to blow out your candle
  • Lock your ego in a drawer and keep an open mind when trying new things
  • Always keep your sense of humor and share it with others

Innovator. Role Model. Mentor.

R.I.P.

Are You Keeping Your Mind Challenged?

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Summer is winding down. Delicate tints of Autumn colors are beginning to decorate the trees. Sandals and swimwear are being traded for text books and caffeine. It’s transition season. Wild Summer fun is over. Time to buckle down and get busy.

Drilled into my brain since kindergarten, I suppose I’ve never lost this transition mindset. The last week of August arrives. A switch flips in my brain and I’m ready to start something new. It might be another novel or some new skill I want to master.

@Chris Titze Imaging – Stock.Adobe.Com

What about you? Are you challenging yourself?

  • Start a new creative project
  • Learn a new skill
  • Learn a new language
  • Learn a musical instrument

Why Do Goal Oriented People Sometimes Procrastinate?

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You can fill a few shelves with books about procrastination. These resources are especially helpful for the chronic habitual procrastinator. What about the rest of us? Why do careful planners and goal oriented folks sometimes put things off?

Everybody procrastinates from time to time

I’m a program/ project manager. My main job duty is to make certain everything happens when it’s supposed to at the projected cost. Over the past year, my employer has asked me to create corporate project management training. Great opportunity, right? Meh. I hate writing nonfiction (respect to those of you who rock this genre). Weeks pass with no progress while the classes get uncomfortably close.

Exploring the “Why” we procrastinate

Here are my theories. Mind you, I’m not a mental health professional just an experienced observer of human behavior:

  • You don’t want to do it
  • You resent doing it
  • You don’t know how to do it and are afraid to ask for help
  • You lack the self-confidence to do it

@Anna Kutukova – Stock.Adobe.Com

Let’s take the first two bullets (they’re related) – I get it. Been there. Forced to wear the t-shirt.

“We have to tighten our belts, which means everybody has to help out by taking on more work. We just don’t have the resources, so can you squeeze it in? Oh, and I need it by Monday.”

Sound familiar? I could give you the same tired old advice to buckle down and just do it. BUT – I’m not. Rather, I’m suggesting you figure out what’s in it for YOU. Document what you’re doing and use it to get a promotion or a better job.

@aaabbc – Stock.Adobe.Com

A word about FEAR (aka the last two bullets) – Everyone experiences self-doubt when trying to do a new task. What you do with that fear defines you. Option One: Stay paralyzed with fear, don’t do the task and get in trouble or fired. Option Two: Seek out someone who can help you and be honest with them. I think you’ll find most folks are happy to give you a little help.

What if my procrastination doesn’t involve the day job? I’m experiencing the “I don’t wanna” symptoms on my creative project. My advice: This may be your subconscious trying to tell you the path you’re headed down is the wrong one. Take some time to examine what you’re doing and why.

A Creative Person’s Most Vicious Self-Sabotaging Emotions

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Inside the mind of a creative person can be a brutal place. Fear. Insecurities. Frustration. They rage in our thoughts like a violent thunderstorm. Yet from chaos comes creation. We must hold on until this piece of art/ literature/ music is complete. Walking the tightrope isn’t easy as we try to navigate through the pitfalls of self-sabotage.

Impatience and Self-Doubt

Ah impatience! You are my arch nemesis. I either rush through edits or drag my feet.

@sato00 – Stock. Adobe.Com

Miserable and negative, I begin to lose faith in my work. The result is a sloppy draft I end up spending more excruciating time on anyway.

Self-Sabotaging Inner Dialogue:

  • Screw it. This is good enough.
  • I’m bored with this manuscript. I want to move on to the next thing.

The Fix:

  • Force yourself to slow down. Take the time to be careful
  • Take a break. Time will change your perspective, so you can see your work clearly
  • Ask for help. Have someone else look at your project. Fresh eyes are a good thing

Self-doubt can kill a creative project. Frozen in fear and angst, the mind can’t focus or perform. You feel bad about yourself and want to give up. The naysayers love to help you fail. Why? Envy. You are the ONLY person who can create YOUR art. Most of the naysayers are destined to fail at what you’ve achieved.

@sato00 – Stock. Adobe.Com

Self-Sabotaging Inner Dialogue:

  • I’m not good enough.
  • People will criticize and make fun of me.

The Fix:

  • Smash those negative thoughts and focus on what YOU like about your work
  • Nobody is perfect. Development of your creative skill sets is a journey. Nobody’s born a master craftsmen. It takes work
  • Remember – sometimes people can be jerks. You can either be crushed by their opinion or rise above it and do what you need to do

 

Creation demands Endurance

@wilkat – Stock. Adobe.Com

Plodding through my current WIP for the umpteenth time, I ran across a passage about my main character’s family motto. Endurance. My character leans on this family axiom in a particularly troubling and dangerous time. His ability to endure through the most trying and painful experiences helps him to survive.

It got me thinking about editing.

Hear me out. Imagine going through the same manuscript again and again. I think I’m on either edit effort number five or six. I’ve lost track. It’s exhausting. I just want to hand the dang thing off to the next person. BUT – when you’re an Indie Publisher, there really is no “next person.” You must endure and do the work before sending it out. Line editors cost money. Most Indies don’t have a big wad of cash to blow. We must be certain the quality of our books is worth the expense. If your editor comes back with a “this isn’t ready” then you’ve just wasted hundreds of dollars.

“Find the one thing you value most and hold onto it with your very soul. How much would you endure to keep this treasure near your heart?” – excerpt from The Obsidian Gates

@gustavofrazao – Stock.Adobe.Com

What keeps me going? Passion. I love my stories and I love sharing them with my readers. Now you know my dearest treasure. My passion helps me to endure.

Sometimes You Just Need a Break!

You’ve completed your novel and have self-edited until you can’t stomach looking at the words anymore. Time to send it out into the world, right? WRONG!

This is the perfect time to lovingly put your book in a safe place with a time lock. Why? I know how you’re feeling right now. You want this book gone and off your hands. Haven’t you suffered enough over its pages?

The blush is off the rose,” “You’ve lost that loving feeling,” “If you like Piña Coladas…” I hate that song.

@mario beauregard – Stock.Adobe.Com

Let me talk you down. Impatience is the killer of quality. In your mindset right now, you don’t know for certain whether the book is ready or if you’re just being impatient. Giving your brain a chance to rest is key. You can come back in a month or so and look at your work objectively.

@Marek – Stock.Adobe.Com

What to do while you’re waiting. Hmm. You are a writer and writers write. Start a new book or a short story. You’ve got an entire month to finish an outline or first draft. Have a bit of fun by letting your creative brain engage in something new.