Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Long Slope Called Burn-Out

I feel like I haven't been here forever! The truth is, I've been sliding down a long slope called "burn-out" and I really can't think of much to talk about that hasn't already been said a hundred times before on this blog. So, whether or not it will bore you to tears today, I'm going to talk briefly about a few things - my writing at the center of it all.

I'm published.

Does that make me a good writer?

The funny thing is that I'm SELF-published at the moment, but will be traditionally published as of September 15th of this year. Does it truly make any difference? Does it freaking matter? My conclusion is absolutely not. I wrote a book. That's what matters. In fact, I'm working on my 6th book. It's pretty awesome that I've written that many. Only one I've shelved for good.

After six books, I've finally figured out a system. Or so I think. It takes me on average 7 months to 2 years to write a book, depending on the length and complexity. For the rough draft, it takes me 3 - 5 months.

Do I outline?

You bet I outline. However, it's not what most people would really call an outline. It's more like a really long synopsis, and it's very loose. In fact, my story often cuts away from that synopsis. It always comes back, though, like a wave washing on the shore - finally ending up at that last scene I planned from the beginning.

Do I need feedback?

You bet I do. I have never been able to write a book without letting someone read parts of it as I go along. It seems to be a need, but it also seems to be waning as of late. More and more I only need 1 or 2 people to look things over. I also don't rely on them to give me feedback on prose like I used to - but more on big huge gaping holes I left lying around and somehow couldn't see. I'm kind of blind to those.

Why am I burned out?

Because marketing a book SUCKS THE LIFE OUT OF ME. I'm not kidding. Marketing my novel Monarch has left me feeling like I've been run over by a freaking truck, and despite everything I've done, I don't feel like much of it has been very productive. That's the worst part.

I feel like it's time to take one big huge break. We just got NetFlix and watching a lot of movies sounds nice. Also, I have a huge stack of books I want to read. I have a feeling my future posts are going to be about reading more than writing. After all, that's where my love of writing started.


  1. Life-sucking book marketing. Hm. Something to look forward to.

    I must say that what you said about feedback works the same with me. The longer I go at this, the less I feel the need to get people to verify if the writing itself is good or not. (Though I'm not exactly there yet - I still need to get opinions on general things like pacing and whatnot, but I suspect that will disappear in time.)

    Take your break, you deserve it after so much work.

  2. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy...

  3. Jake: Yeah, life-sucking. That's the truth. You'll get to the point where you don't need as much feedback, I'll bet. :)

    Rick: Exactly.

  4. Rick is scaring me just a little.

    Michelle, you already seem more relaxed after your first day of break. I'm really glad you're doing this. You've been talking about burnout for at least a couple of months now.

  5. I know what you mean I feel like this at the moment and it is kind of depressing. Just plod On throguh I guess...

  6. I don't have one book published and already I'm feeling the burnout. Fortunately for me, I will be traveling to where I'll have limited Internet, so that will be very good for me!

    Take the time YOU need, Michelle...

  7. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. I think it helps to know that we're not alone out here in our sometimes isolated world behind the keyboard.

    I think that taking time out to remember and experience the things we love helps us be better writers. I know it's sometimes in those other moments that I find ideas and solutions that I don't think I could find otherwise. You'll have to let us know what treasures you find in your reading escape!

  8. Michelle, you know I'm a big fan of taking breaks between projects. Take the summer off! Read, read, read. Look at sky and trees!

    Domey, Rick might seem scary, but you should look at his blog today: a bunny!

  9. Scary people always have a bunny.

    You can quote me on that.

  10. Sorry to hear you've been feeling burned-out, Michelle. But in a perverse kind of way I'm relived to hear what you said about all your marketing efforts. You see, I was feeling exactly the same way and wondering if anything I was doing was productive. I started out further down the promo pile than you because I didn't have any internet presence at all. Watching what you and JS were doing gave me some insights and helped me on my way. For that, I am hugely grateful. But soon after I started, I began to get really stressed, because I didn't have a clue if any of it was useful. It began to haunt my nights and stopped me sleeping. Luckily, I decided burning myself out over it wasn't helping, especially as Rhett and Emmaline were so relaxed. I'm glad I stepped back when I did, and now I'm doing more of what I enjoy - helping other writers by reading their work and editing. Hearing that you felt the same, when you seemed to be doing so much more than I was capable of, has eased my mind even more. So in an odd kind of way, your burn-out has helped me. Hope that makes you feel a tiny bit better!
    Go have a lovely rest. Monarch will be what it will be, and it won't suffer for you taking a holiday.
    Have fun! xx

  11. I understand. Hoo boy, do I understand.

  12. Sorry about the burnout, Michelle, and taking a break sounds like the perfect thing to do, because, as Rick reminded us, well you can read what he wrote. (Rick? All chanting and no nothing else makes Jack a crazy boy. With a bunny. Which hopefully won't end up in a boiling pot.)

    This marketing thing...*shudders*

  13. Hey, the Lord rested after 7 days. :-) And for you it's been, what--years?

    Nobody can keep going at that pace. You know I've expressed amazement at your stamina.

    Now you get to be a READER. The one thing we all need more of.

  14. I'm just beginning to experience what you've been doing for a year and a half, but I'm already feeling the burn. With me, it's more a desire to escape into writing again and forget this marketing drain.

    Watch some comedies and read what you love. I hope you're refreshed and refilled soon.

  15. Michelle, it's no wonder you're tired! You've worked so hard and accomplished so much in just the short time I've been following your career that it makes me tired just to watch! Still, you make it look easy and I know it's anything but. You're a wonder.

    It's wise to recharge. Then when Monarch comes out you'll be ready for that next huge push of marketing.

    In the meantime, take every chance you can to enjoy the show (just look out for the butter substitute on the popcorn- it is worse for you than the real thing by far!)


  16. PS Domey- scary people always have a bunny? Did Nevets tell you about the card I sent him? :~) LOL

    If not let me know I'll have to email you snapshots (yes I kept a few- I am proud of that card.) But I'm not sure the bunny shows up in the snapshots...


  17. Davin: Rick is awesome that way, hehe. Yeah, I've tried to be more relaxed lately. It's hard when I worry about everything all the time. This break should help.

    Charlee: Plod on through is right. However, I plan to stop and smell the roses. :)

    Bridget: Yeah, I think this started long before Monarch got signed. I need a cabin I can run away to!

    Eliza: Oh, you are so right about finding solutions during times you don't expect to find them. I think that might be what I encounter this time around, but I'm not counting on it. I'll just rest and see!

    Scott: Yeah, taking the summer off sounds lovely! I want to read until I'm cross-eyed!

    Davin: Look at Monty Python. :)

    Cas: Hehe, I'm glad I could be of help! Honestly, I think the internet offers so much distortion to reality that we can really lose track of where we are. You may think I'm doing more and all that, but I'm probably not. Also, we all work at different strengths, so I might be awesome in one area while you excel at another. Hope you don't get burned out!

    Tara: Yeah. I hope you're taking a break!

    Yat-Yee: Mmmm, boiled bunny. Hehehe.

    Anne: Yeah, being a reader will rock! I'll still be around here, but I don't plan on writing much.

    Linda: Yeah, I was dying to get back into writing for a long time, then I hit a wall. Contracts and deadlines kind of turned things upside down for me and I've got to sort through all of it. Hope you don't get too burned out! Just remember, there are ALWAYS readers when you come back.

    Bru: Aww, sorry to make you tired! It's amazing to think I make any of this look easy, lol. For awhile I couldn't wait for September to get here, and now I'm kind of hoping it just inches closer at a nice slow pace.

    Mmm, popcorn. Oh my gosh, I want some. Can't have any unless it's just air-popped with nothing on it. Sigh.

  18. The problem with marketing these days is that there are so many other things demanding people's attention that it's virtually impossible to grab their attention and holding it, well, just forget it. Never in my life have I felt under attack by so much information. The whole world is shouting at me, at least that's how it feels. And no sooner has one shiny thing caught my eye than there's another clamouring for my attention. It's actually worrying. Most of the time I end up with books by pure fluke; I happen to be in the right place at the right time and I grab what's in front of me. And it's only going to get worse.

  19. I feel your marketing pain. I haven't been able to make much ground either, though, if I'm honest, I've spent much more time writing than marketing. I have learnt something extremely valuable trying to market myself - I am terrible at marketing!

    If ever I manage to acquire the funds, I will have someone market for me!

    I think you deserve a good long break with a pile of books (and a large number of movies). I find reading is the quickest way to recharge the batteries.

    Best of luck to you!

  20. I'm with Yat-Yee. Marketing makes me shudder.


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