I always get caught up in trying too hard. When I hear friends writing 2k words, or 5 pages a day or book after book, I feel like a slacker and so add pages, stories, words. Pretty soon, all I do is write. I burrow into my office chair and spend hours there working on story or pages or whatever. My relationships slip, after all, writing comes first, right? My housekeeping slips...write or die, right? I don't see daylight for weeks on end...don't get dressed, rarely shower(I know you're glad you're not here.) My daughter has to walk in and physically pull me from the computer. After all, I don't have a deadline. Writing more does not make writing better. But...but, I just know this next idea might be my "breakout" book... You know, breakout or not there will always be another book after it. I get caught up in the idea that if I only try harder, write faster, promote more, I'll be able to make it happen.
Um, no. Story comes from life. If you're not living it, then your stories become weak. If you sacrifice relationships then your characters lose depth. Living life in your head you lose so much and so does your writing. Writing too much is as bad as not writing enough.
Think of your writing career as a story. Stories can't be all dialog. They can't be all glorious rich description. They can't be all action. They have to be a good balance of dialog, action and description. True success comes not from trying harder, but from stepping back and figuring out how to live smarter, richer lives. Relationships add to story. Taking care of your health adds to your writing-let's face it you can't write as well if you're sick or in pain or hungry. But, you say if I live my life then there isn't room for story. Or I'll miss a trend or an opportunity. I say, so be it. Participating in 100 groups might garner you 10 sales. But at the sacrifice of real relationships. Are 10 sales worth that? Catching a trend might sell one book, but two, three, four years down the road the trend is gone and you will be scrambling again. At what cost?
So, I say, make a habit of once a month, stepping away from your writing and looking at it for balance. Am I not writing enough to meet my goals? Did I get caught up in promotion at the expense of my writing? Am I taking care of my health, my relationships? When was the last time I went outside and looked up at the night sky? My last sunrise? My last sunset? Visit my good friend and invest some time in life?
Living a life in balance is the hardest thing to do, but I believe your writing will actually benefit from it. Now, I'm off to spend the afternoon with friends. Cheers!