This might be the most important article I ever write, because it’s really relevant to me right now. It’s 7 am, and a full day is before me. A greeting card company I work with has sent me an avalanche of cards that need edits, and my ancient computer is running slower than an eleven-year-old who doesn’t want to clean his room. A review company I submitted a few books to has become a blinding success, but I’ve had to keep track of what reader wants what book format, and my head is an absolute muddle. Sales have not been the greatest this month, I have three books I need to write and edit, and oh yeah, my one-year-old is teething and I have three other children to care for.
Besides keeping up with my house and trying to keep the pile of dishes in the sink from teetering over the side, I’m working to bring in a supplemental income for our family. Every word I type has a cost.
The pressure can be overwhelming. Especially because, as most indie writers know, producing books can be expensive. Edits, covers, marketing . . . when done right, they all come with a price tag.
So how can we deal with the pressure of being parents and money-generating machines? Even without young children, the stress can become unbearable. We aren’t working for an employer with a guaranteed paycheck. Indie writing can absolutely be profitable and fulfilling, but what about when it’s not? Here are some tips to help you over the rough spots.
- Set a budget. As an indie, it’s easy to just throw money into your book and hope something sticks, but it’s also important to be realistic. Can you truly afford that 1500.00 cover? How many Kindle books would it take to sell to recoup that cost, and with the genre you are writing, will you truly make it back in a reasonable time? Plenty of great cover artists work for three hundred dollars or less.
- Be patient. It may take a few months to save up for that Bookbub ad or that copy editor. It’s really okay. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a writer is that we’re running a marathon, not a sprint.
- Find an accountability partner. This can be a spouse or perhaps another writer. Try to find someone with a practical outlook who isn’t afraid to call it like it is, but who also supports your writing dreams and understands writing comes with a cost.
- Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. Yep, there are other writers out there who will be more successful than you, and sometimes it’s hard to hear their success stories when you aren’t having the best month. But how did they get to where they’re at? Talent and hard work. And you can get there too. But jealousy doesn’t get you anything but a headache and maybe an ulcer.
- Make time for what’s most important. If your child wants something, look away from the computer and give them your full attention. No matter what deadline you have coming up, spend time with your spouse and make sure they feel loved and special. Don’t forget why you’re working so hard in the first place.
- If something’s just not working, you might have to give it a rest. Wrestling with a difficult storyline? Pouring hundreds of dollars into marketing without a single sale? Step back, re-evaluate. Talk to other authors, bounce ideas off of friends. A new perspective can take you a long way.
- Be willing to start over. If a book isn’t getting the best sales and/or reviews, it might be time to re-work something. Consider a new cover, title, blurb, or maybe all three. Save back some money for another once-over edit or maybe a few promotional sites for the following month.
- Watch your attitude. Don’t let the stress of a deadline or finances seep into your family life. If you need to, talk to a counselor, trusted friend, or pastor, but make sure you stay healthy mentally and emotionally.
- Take a hike. Get away from screens for a few hours or even a day and go to an environment you love. Botanical gardens, the zoo, even the mall.
- Don’t depend on other people to meet deadlines. If a graphic artist or editor tells you a finish by date, add a week or two on your personal schedule. Life happens, people get sick, cars break down. Remember many of these people work from home as well and may also be chasing after children. I’m not saying don’t expect people to do what they say, but give yourself extra time in case crazy hits the fan. This can also happen with supplies you’ve ordered online, etc, especially with CreateSpace. Always give extra time.
- Remember why you started writing in the first place. Writing should be an outlet, a place for creative expression. A way to detox and de-stress. Set your epic fantasy aside for a night and write a short story or a picture book. Find a literary magazine that focuses on a writing theme like Thema or The First Line and submit a piece for the newest assignment.
We all have struggles with writing from time to time. Don’t ignore stress as it comes, instead, try to find healthy ways to process it and move on.
When have you been stressed out by writing, and how did you cope? Let us know in the comments below.