I write as a hobby.
Spend enough time around authors who do this for a living, or ones who are working on doing this for a living, and this phrase starts to sound like something I wouldn’t want to admit… but it’s actually critical to avoiding burnout.
For those of you looking askance at me and going “You’re on MGC, you’re putting out books yearly, you’ve been writing blurbs and working on learning the publishing industry since KDP existed, go to conferences… as a hobby?” In large part, much of that is to support my husband’s writing career. The rest? Well, I may have problems doing anything, even hobbies, at less than full throttle and aiming for perfection.
I remind myself that it’s a hobby to give myself permission to ease the throttle back to maneuvering speed when encountering turbulence.
Brian Cohen, who does awesome Amazon Ads Courses I highly recommend, also had a note on defining success in self-publishing that I keep as a reminder. It breaks our writing down into three things – no, not beginning, middle, and end, but Goals, Process, and Passion. (I think he called it something else, but this is how I wrote my note to self.)
The Passion – What is your dream, your end state? What do you get out of writing? Why did you get into this in the first place? What gives you energy and joy?
The Goals – What milestones have you developed to get to your end state? Where do you want to be in 1-5 years, writing-wise?
You have to know what you want out of this in order to measure if you’re making progress, and whether it’s in the right direction.
Passion drives Goals.
Goals drive Process.
If my goal was to make $20K/yr, then my process would have to be very different from my current goal to enjoy this hobby, and continue to learn about the business while supporting my husband & writing friends.
Right now, if I get stuck on a chapter for a week, it’s mildly annoying, like getting stuck on at a weight on bench press. Both are problems that require figuring out what’s not working, but neither responds well to stressing and trying to brute-force it. (In fact, weightlifting is very, very honest about either you can do it with good form, or you can’t. Trying to cheat that will injure yourself, so don’t try.)
However, as a hobby, I don’t have to stress about falling behind in a production schedule, and how that’ll impact my bottom line or cascade to push back plans for pre-orders and releases down the road. If my goal was to do this professionally? Not working for a week is a big deal.
Process will always keep changing, as life changes and as your skills, time, and availability change. You still have to have one, though, if you want to get anything done. That said, it’s easy to get focused on process, and lose sight of goals, or let your goals and your pursuit of them with the process go astray from your passion.
What happens if you only have 2 out of 3?
Process + Passion – Goals = Comparisonitis (and Goalpost Shifting)
Goals + Passion – Process = Shiny Object Syndrome
Goals + Process – Passion = Burnout
Goals + Process + Passion = Focus and Progress
…And that’s why I’m mildly frustrated at my own pace on this WIP, but ultimately okay with only getting one book out in 2022.