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Things I Learned This Year…

Today, I was told I graduated. Really, it was my last follow-up appointment for my ACL repair surgery. It’s hard to believe it’s been six months, and yet not that hard to believe. I’ve definitely come a long way in my recovery and thinking about that brings to mind the many other things I’ve learned this year regarding writing.

  • Know your audience: I blogged about this shortly after releasing Beta Test, but it bears repeating (even if only for myself). The dedicated motorcycle club romance reader is not likely to dig an easy-going beta male. Lesson learned…but I will write another Beta novel because Bobby has a story to be told. Plus, his woman has quite the story as well!

 

  • My view of writer’s block has definitely changed! It’s one of the many things I learned thanks to my ACL injury and surgery. Someone said to me, “Well, at least you didn’t break your arm. Then you wouldn’t be able to write.” That’s true physically, but so much of writing is mental. Of all the people who talked to me, asked what happened, and so forth only one woman asked me if my injury impacted me mentally. It absolutely hit me mentally. I was in the midst of writing Foolish Riot when it happened, and everything came to a screeching halt.

Honestly, I should’ve seen the writer’s block coming. Mainly, this is because of an interview of Daniel Negreanu I saw years ago. Someone asked him how he maintains his mental stamina for the World Series of Poker. If you’re not aware, the W.S.O.P. Events kick off in the mornings and will run until the wee hours of the night. So, it’s not unheard of for a player to be at the table for fourteen hours or more in the day. Negreanu mentioned that regular exercise helps one have better focus at the table. Like poker, writing is a sedentary activity. Unlike poker, it’s also very solitary, so that physical activity link with mental health is key. When I was relegated to hobbling around on crutches and in pain, it never should have surprised me for writer’s block to set in.

Luckily, I had snagged the 2018 Romance Writers of America recordings from my local chapter and there were two sessions that helped immensely. The first recommended a 20-minute rule to get back into the swing of my story. The other session featured another writer’s personal story of struggle. That story reminded me of one of my first bosses who sadly passed away twenty years ago. She always said to me, “Karen, we have no problems.” No matter what stressful, problem-riddled situation we were dealing with, she forced me to keep that perspective. Listening to this other writer’s struggle made me think of Babs and keep in mind, I “had no problems.” The story I was working on seemed to have dried up, but it eventually came back.

So, writer’s block is a real thing, but I got through it. Hence, my view of ‘not believing’ in writer’s block has changed. It exists, but like any other challenge in life, it has to be dealt with and I learned or re-learned some tools for defeating it.

  • I’ve learned not to be afraid of “Free.” It was terribly uncomfortable to run a “Free” offer on Unforeseen Riot this past August, but I learned quite a bit from doing it. Of the four thousand free downloads in August, I don’t know how many were actually read, but I know it seems to have resulted in more readers for the other books.

 

  • Kindle Unlimited has value. But, I’m still debating taking the Riot series wide again, but right now it’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

 

  • I’m still not a plotter, and I have to stop second guessing myself or presuming plotters have it better. I have to embrace the speed bump or the long pause when I know the story is at the turning point or any turning point.

 

  • Another big lesson I learned is not to wait so long before getting to characters…but time will tell if I’ve really learned from this or not. However, with Foolish Riot and Respectable Riot I had pages and pages of notes and at least four scenes that didn’t get into either story because those scenes hit me two years ago and the stories were headed in other directions. It kills me that nobody will read about Trixie going to a Zumba class or Janie sitting in a sauna being called out by a fitness instructor about what’s got her in a funk; but when things don’t fit, they don’t fit.

I think that sums up what I’ve learned this year. Stay tuned for my 2020 goals blog post. That will come soon since the bloody year will be over soon! One thing is for sure. My goals for next year won’t be word oriented.