~ By Susan Meier
Note: This post originally appeared here.I have two proposals due this month, a story to write and … well, there’s a major holiday in here too. So as I mentioned last week, I skimmed all my blogs and came up with some short, but helpful things I’d said this year that bear repeating… When you are too tired to think, you can do your manuscript a great disservice. You can delete good stuff and keep bad stuff…and not even know you’re doing it. So what do you do when you’re too tired to think? 1. Step away. Get so far away from the computer that you can’t even see it! Don’t tempt yourself to work when you’re too tired. 2. Give yourself options of ways to rest your brain. Normally housekeeping is my go-to mundane activity to heal my brain. Yesterday, it wasn’t cutting it. Why? I think because it was still part of a routine. And my brain wanted something different. My something different and your something different could be two totally different things. Some people like bubble baths. Some people shop. Some people eat out. There are lots of things you can do to rest your brain. Write a list of 20, give yourself choices so you really will rest your brain. 3. Once you’ve decided what you’re going to do…throw yourself into it. Forget your book. (Buy the popcorn!) 4. Remember to move. My trainer is a very smart woman. She can take one look at me and know when I need to push physically to help myself mentally. If you don’t belong to a gym and/or don’t have lots of workout tapes, ride your bike, take a walk, run up and down your stairs! LOL Do something to get the blood flowing. And most of all #5…don’t be mad at yourself for needing a day off. I usually work six days a week. Lately, I’ve been working seven. How fair is that to my poor brain? Taking a day off rather than pushing can usually reap the reward of a fully cooperative brain the next morning. It worked for me. Don’t push yourself so much that you hit that wall that totally stops you…maybe for a long time. Happy reading…
So my husband was tapped out before I ended book one, and my vanilla friends (non-writers) are supportive but clueless. So I joined RWA, which you probably are too if you are reading this blog. Then I joined my local chapter, online chapters and a few other groups. I found critique groups and critique partners to share my journey with, and I connected with classmates from craft classes. Writers, especially romance writers, are generally very supportive. Find your people and embrace them! It gives you so much—accountability, advice, and encouragement to name a few.Reading: So I became a writer because I love books, really love books, and at some point, I became more interested in the stories in my head than the ones I was reading. But after obsessing in my writing pool a few months, I missed books. Sometimes I can’t read romance, other times I read romance for a publisher I’m trying to snag. But I read, no less than a book a week. I “read” by listening via audible.com. For me it makes driving, housework and all my tedious chores more fun. Balance. So like any newly-converted fan, I obsessed about writing at first, ignoring most things that didn’t pay the bills or bleed. But that was short-lived as my husband and kids staged an intervention (kidding about that intervention). I realized I was living with all my eggs in a single basket. Not healthy. And then there was guilt. I’m not a guilt-ridden person by default, but I knew I wasn’t doing the balancing thing. So now, I spend time playing games, hanging out, cooking, seeing vanilla friends, and I write in 30 minute chunks. I can find four to five of those chunks in my day instead of one long two-hour, don’t-interrupt-me, stretch. Find your balance, which could mean more writing time or less. Loser-free Zone: I kicked out all the losers who took up space inside my head, and they can’t come back.
- The Muse: She demanded I write on her schedule and didn’t give a diddly-damn about my schedule or my family. And I write without her, just as well, maybe better.
- The Critic: She was haughty, skeptical and laughed at every mistake. That bitch is now out and gone.
- The Doubter: This mousy girl liked to point out how she liked our writing but no one else would, ever.
- The Yes-Woman: She is the hardest to get rid of as I like to say yes to things. I like to think I’ve turned her into a Meh Woman.
Are there any songs that have taught you about craft and story-telling? Leave a comment and let us know!Susan Meier is the author of over 60 books for Harlequin and Silhouette, Entangled Indulgence, Red Hot Bliss and Bliss and one of Guideposts’ Grace Chapel Inn series books, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. In 2013 she lived one of her career-long dreams. Her book, THE TYCOON’S SECRET DAUGHER was a finalist for RWA’s highest honor, the Rita. The same year NANNY FOR THE MILLIONAIRE’S TWINS was a National Reader’s Choice finalist and won the Book Buyer’s Best Award.Susan is married with three children and is one of eleven children, which is why love and family are always part of her stories.
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done.”Guess I'll be saying no to that particular book idea, then, so I can say yes to the contemporary romances I really want to write. Yes, to the books that are close to my heart. And yes, to more chocolate, sleep and exercise. Celery sticks ... meh ... Milou Koenings is an award-winning USA Today bestselling author who writes romance because, like chocolate, stories with happy endings bring joy to the world and so make it a better place. She's lived all over the world, working as a freelance travel and technology writer, but loves to stay home with her family more than anything. You can join her newsletter at www.miloukoenings.com Milou's a proud member of Sweet Romance Reads, where she blogs monthly every 21st of the month, and you can also get to know her better here: