Friday, June 9, 2017

The Importance of Stepping Back

Hey lovely people! My vlog post ended up coming a week late, because I caught the flu. Sigh. Really complicated everything. It's finally done, though, so I hope you enjoy it. :-)

Going off of the comments I got last time, I decided to keep posting my script below the video for those of you who prefer to read.

And if you're not a Blogger user who somehow got to this blog, you can find this same post on Wordpress here.


I want to talk about a really understated bit of advice that can be vital to your survival as a writer. Namely: That sometimes, you just need to step back, take your foot off the gas pedal.

As you might know from my more recent vlog updates, things haven’t been going well with me lately. Basically, nothing has been quite going my way since 2014, but that was okay, because I was taught that old truism that we all get fed with mother’s milk:

If you work hard, everything will work out. 


Eh…

Turns out not so much.

See, in the years since 2014, I’d worked 16 hour days, often more in order to do more, and I’d do that until I was on the edge of breaking emotionally. I never stopped writing. Never stopped building at businesses and marketing and literally anything that I *knew* would get me ahead.

And it just kept feeling like everything was turning to dust under my feet.

The worst part? None of the hours I’d spent, of the health I’d risked, of the life I’d postponed… none of it actually meant anything.

Because there are always assholes out to get you. And they will steal your life and your hours of work and your very soul if they can, just to benefit themselves.

So yeah. After relentlessly pushing myself for almost four years, there came a point where I just…couldn’t. Not going to go into detail, but I came to the point where I was so exhausted that I couldn’t fight anymore.

I couldn’t keep acting like everything was okay and that it was business as usual, because it wasn’t.

And so, I pulled back. From as much as I could. Obviously there are some commitments you can’t avoid without incurring long-term damage, but if there was something I could leave with a cost I could tolerate, I did it.

This sadly included my writing, because the stresses of my life had basically drained my creativity. So instead of forcing myself to write, I forced myself not to. Instead, I spent my writing hours doing needlepoint or crocheting. Anything with an almost mindless, repetitive motion.

What this did was it allowed me to grieve. It allowed me to feel. It let me process my pain and frustration instead of allowing me to suppress them like I’d been doing for years. It put me in a place where I could regain some perspective. Where I could look at the problems and at least get to the point where I could see the value in the things I was doing again.

And that’s probably the most important thing about stepping back. When we’re writers, we basically take on an extra job, and when we’re published, marketing that book becomes another job. Which means that it’s go go go go all the time with no stopping, and when things aren’t going as well as they should, it’s so easy to be overwhelmed. It’s too easy to lose the meaning of what we’re doing in the mad rush to get it all done.

So it becomes imperative that we step back and breathe at least for a few days, just to regain a sense of balance before taking everything on again.

What do you do to recharge when you're pulling back? 

34 comments:

  1. We do add a ton more responsibilities and duties as authors. You're right, easy to burn out. Stepping back for me is pulling away from the Internet for a bit. It's playing my guitar or a game with my wife.

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    1. Pulling back from the Internet helps me too, but I find it's so hard to get back into the social networking groove.

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  2. I'm so grateful that I was able to hear this in your own voice, in your own words versus reading them this week. It really made it that much more powerful. My child is dealing with that kind of stress and anxiety and we are finding that they need to step back too. Unplug and learn how to live in the moment, one step, each day at a time. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Many hugs to you.

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    1. I'm glad if my vlog was of some use to you. I really hope things get better for your child.

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  3. Its all too easy to break down or burn out, so a break away will not only be beneficial but also gives room to think of new ideas. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yeah a break does just give one space to think differently. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. I embroider--cross stitch. It relaxes me, and I can do it while I watch something relaxing on TV.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Yeah needlepoint and crocheting I do while watching something. Painting I usually only do with music on.

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  5. I have stressors in real life and in writing life. When they're all going at once, it's difficult. Music helps immensely. Reading, movies, TV. I cook. I wish I could paint, but I have trouble with walls, much less anything else. Best of all is going away for even a few days and totally unplugging. It helps me to experience a much simpler life.

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    1. Yeah a simpler life makes for better rest. :-)

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  6. It's so easy to burn out as writers - we have to wear so many hats. Breaks are crucial for sanity's sake, I think. Reassessing now where I want to go as a writer. Will be taking a blog break soon. That always helps ease the schedule a bit. Take it easy and don't be too hard on yourself! :)

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    1. I hope you enjoy your blogging break. :-)

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  7. It's so nice to hear your voice. :)

    You're right; sometimes we do have to step back. Many years ago, my grandmother used to say, "If you have so many things to do that you don't know what to do first... don't do any of them." Sometimes we just have to take a breath and regroup. There are a kazillion ways to clear my mind with other creative pursuits. Sometimes, all it takes is a nice leisurely walk. Or a good book to read. Always... a good book to read.

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    1. Thanks! ^_^

      I like your grandmother's saying.

      Now you've reminded me that I really need to read some. For some reason, I basically stopped when I went through the wringer.

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  8. Always advisable to take time for recharging. Sorry about the flu, but it reminded you that your health has to come first.

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    1. That's very true. It basically hit me because I've been going to sleep late and waking up really early, which I think suppressed my immune system.

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  9. Wise words, Misha. When I need to recharge, I usually read, or go out for walks, or do something visually artistic.

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    1. Same here, although I don't take nearly enough walks. ;-)

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  10. I hear ya. I had to do this. Stepping back has made me healthier, and more vigilant about my own health and my family's. What a great post!

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    1. Thanks so much! ^_^

      My brushes with burn-outs have definitely made aware, and I think I can at least say that my burn-outs are less frequent and less severe, now.

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  11. When I finish writing a book I always step back. I couldn't imagine going from one right into another, without time away from writing to recharge my creativity in other ways. My favorite thing then is cooking. Also reading!

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    1. I'm not much of a cook, although I cook a Sunday meal about once a month and my family says I'm good at it. I *love* baking, though.

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  12. Oh, gosh, I can relate to this so well. I often push myself to the limit for my art career...then somehow find even more limits to push. One of the things I've done to scale back is put my webcomic on hiatus for a year, so I could work on it at my own pace. Has definitely helped me feel less burnt out. Glad you've found a way to step back and recharge, too! Needlepoint and crochet are wonderful hobbies to distract yourself with... ^_^

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    1. Glad to read you're feeling a bit less burnt out. ^_^

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  13. Everyone has their own path. Sometimes backing off of the path makes so much sense for success in the long run. Life throws everyone curve balls, and some are more difficult to handle than others, especially when the come in rather quick succession.

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    1. Yeah that's true. Part of the secret to happiness is knowing when to veer off into a new path, I think. :-)

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  14. I think social media overwhelms me because there are so many things people can do: blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and on and on. Sometimes I think, "Wow, I should do all this too!" But I don't really want to spend all my free time on this stuff, so I don't. I step back. When things get bleak, listening to music, reading, and bike rides or walks calm me down.

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    1. Yeah it's really tempting to pile more social networking onto my plate, but part of my stepping back and re-evaluating was all about me figuring out ways to do the things I AM doing to the best of my ability, rather than taking on more and half-assing it.

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  15. I'm sorry that things have been so difficult for you, and I do sincerely hope that they get better and easier soon. I understand your need to step back from writing for a while; I did that too this past year because it was just too hard trying to make time for it in addition to my other work. One thing that helps me de-stress is watching cute puppy videos on YouTube. I really like Ryen Lung's vlogs about his adorable corgi dog he named Gatsby; his vlog is called VlogAfterCollege.

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    1. Hehehe looks like a fun channel. Thanks for sharing. :-)

      I hope things are going better on your side too.

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  16. Hi Misha,

    BOY did your post hit home! I have stepped back for over a year and only jump in on occasion to write a post or send out a query from a former story. Nothing new for me. But today I finished a short submission for a prompt on the WEP blog hop. It's a start. I used to write for hops all the time and pulled away from everything, including blogging. I'd resurface from time to time, but nothing like my beginning years in the early 2010's. Like you I was on GO for years and accomplished very little by most successful writer's standards. Have several published things I wrote for other authors, but nothing under my name. Hopefully that will change soon. I do enjoy editing and writing blurbs for other writers, but some recognition for my own work would be amazing.... I'll get there in Time... Good things always come to those who keep trying and never give up COMPLETELY... WE all give up from time to time, but it's never forever.

    Sending you a HUGE hug and keep healing. You need this time for you.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! I'm THRILLED that you got some writing done. :-)

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