If you’re reading this post on the day I publish it, chances are that I’m currently unconscious or in spaced-out recuperation mode while I have minor surgery done. (I’m taking care of an infected tooth. Hopefully it’s not a big deal, but it does require general anesthesia.) Wish me luck. *smile*
Yes, that’s right. I was serious in my post about self-care for writers that I needed to take some me-time for non-fun stuff.
Other non-fun-but-important things I’ve accomplished the last week include acquiring glasses so I can see my computer screen again. Kind of important, yes? So I was able to read well enough yesterday to catch up on replies to blog comments…just in time to fall behind once more today. *sigh*
(And let’s not even talk about my apocalypse of an email inbox, which is already a disaster on the best of days. Not being able to read my screen makes it hard to get things done. Huh. Who would have guessed?)
My point—as my missed deadlines can attest—is that life happens.
No matter our intentions or plans or dedication, things will go wrong, slip from the schedule, or get missed. This doesn’t make us bad or a failure. It makes us human.
The Pressure of Advice
Everywhere we look in the publishing and writing world, we see advice to add One. More. Thing. to our to-do list.
- “Don’t forget this editing step!”
- “Here’s a new social media platform you need to be on!”
- “If you’re not using this advertising/newsletter/blog tour approach, you’re not serious enough!”
No matter how much we already have on our plate, there’s always advice that tells us we’re not doing enough. That if we fail, we have only ourselves to blame. That if we could just squeeze abc into our schedule, we’d be more successful.
So we feel guilty for not being able to do more. We feel like failures for not having time-warping superpowers or a not having a functional Time Turner necklace.
We deserve better. We deserve to not feel ashamed for not being able to do everything.
Good Intentions Get Us Only So Far
As a perfectionist, I know intentions. *smile* Heck, I have good intentions about having good intentions.
I want to respond to every email and every blog comment. I want to reply to every tweet to me.
I want to write and release multiple books a year. I want my books to go through all phases of editing and not cut corners on quality.
I want to promote my books to the level they deserve after all the work I put into them. I want to pursue review and blog tour and promo opportunities.
In other words, I intend to do all the things that I think I need to do. But the reality is that until I can afford an assistant (which won’t be in the foreseeable future), I simply don’t have time to do everything on that list.
So far, I’ve chosen to focus on the quality issues because, to my mind, that’s a harder problem to overcome later. I can always reply to email or tweets late. That’s not ideal, of course, but the impression of poor quality can’t easily be fixed.
Similarly, I can always promote previous releases later. Some promotions like BookBub actually work better after the book has been out for a while and built up reviews. While some opportunities apply only to new releases, other opportunities will still exist for us later.
Those are my choices, but others could make different choices—without guilt—because we all have different goals and situations. *smile*
The Best-Laid Plans Can’t Foresee Every Obstacle
I had plans to have my current work-in-progress sent off to my line editor by now. We’d worked out a schedule where I might be able to slide into an open editing slot early, and that would help my plans for a release date of late spring.
But then I started struggling with my vision. There were some days when I couldn’t read my screen from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed.
Some of those problems were caused by my eyes changing with age, but a big part was caused by sheer exhaustion on my part. Two weeks of 4-6 hours of sleep a night meant that my body didn’t have the energy to compensate for my ongoing eye strain, leaving me unable to physically focus on the screen at all.
(A few of you received emails from me along the lines of “Okay, I can’t really see right now, but I know I owe you an email, so I’m covering up one eye and squinting really hard.” Yes, it was that bad.)
In other words, by trying to “do it all,” I ended up being unable to do anything. I sabotaged myself (and my plans) by trying to stick to my plan and do the impossible.
Dedication Must Include Forgiveness and Balance
I was dedicated. “If I stay up another hour, I’ll be able to get abc done.” I told myself lies. “Yes, I’m tired, but it would be better to skip a nap because then I’ll have time to work on xyz.”
I wanted to do it all. I told myself I could do it all. Write, revise, blog, promote, research…not to mention day job and family. I didn’t want to make excuses for myself. I didn’t want to fail.
It’s so easy to blame ourselves:
- If I were more organized…
- If I were more focused…
- If I struggled less with procrastination…
- If I give up an hour of sleep…
- If I sacrifice my favorite TV show (or something else that gives us joy)…
But that whole concept is a lie. The truth is:
It is absolutely impossible to do it all.
Good intentions and well-thought-out plans and strong dedication cannot change how time passes. Truth: The more books we write and release in a year, the less time we have to promote them. Simple math.
Yes, it takes hard work and sacrifices to be a writer. But no amount of hard work and sacrifices will allow us to do everything we’re made to feel we should be able to do. Even if we gave up all sleep and spent 24/7 working on our writing and publishing career, we’d still run out of time to meet all the expectations we see in advice.
We shouldn’t blame ourselves for not being able to change the space-time continuum. For not being perfect. For not meeting every expectation.
It’s not failure to accept the truth about how impossible it is to do everything. It’s not failure to prioritize some of our “should do”s into “probably not going happen.” It’s not failure to recognize that we need me-time—or more importantly, that it’s possible to sacrifice too much.
I have the tendency to sacrifice one thing in my schedule and then think I’ll have the time to add in 5 other things. Others might recognize themselves in that confession—if so, know that you’re not alone. But even if that doesn’t apply to us, maybe it’s time to accept that we shouldn’t even try to Do. It. All. *smile*
Do you ever struggle with the urge or the expectation to do it all? What lies do you tell yourself that add to the pressure? Have you ever worked yourself into sickness from pushing too hard? What snapped you out of those bad habits? What signs do you look for to know when our issue is impossible expectations versus laziness, procrastination, or excuses?Pin It