Friday, April 12, 2013

Burnout is not just a Playstation game

 My life has been crazy lately. Work, coupled with family and trying to write got me to a point where I despised even looking at someone else’s book. I have been working on a few short stories for a collection and, even when I got positive feedback, I would tell the person that they were crazy because the writing was terrible. Nothing I was producing made me happy. Everything seemed like it was being written by a six year old. All the plot twists seemed obvious, even when I was told that readers did not see it coming.

Then it happened. I had a complete meltdown about writing. I decided that my blog tour was the dumbest thing I had ever done (mostly because I didn't sell five-hundred books the first day) and that my book must be a pile of crap because no one bothered to review it on Amazon. “That’s it. I’m done.” kept racing through my mind until I couldn't take it anymore (my close friends will recognize this as my response to getting destroyed by my wife and her team at a board game at one in the morning).

I stopped writing almost immediately. I posted one last time on my blog (the post that is going around on my blog tour, not even new content) and decided that was it. I wasn't going to do it anymore. I quit writing the short stories right in the middle of one of the stories, which incidentally might be the best of the lot, and decided writing wasn't for me. This is very out of character for me. I usually don’t quit things no matter how hard they get. Now my parents might tell you stories about me quitting guitar lessons when I was seven or how they put me in numerous activities until they forced me to continue bowling every Saturday morning until I was 10. Needless to say, I still hate bowling with a passion, but I digress.

I had a discussion with my wife and an email with my editor (another shameless plug for It was then that I realized how burned out I truly was. I wrote the first draft of The Hunter’s Son in around 65 days. It was 84,000 words in it’s original draft. 1200 works a day does not seem like a lot, but I work full-time, volunteer with different organizations and help my wife out with extra stuff for her band program. I then launched into a full edit of the material. Three or four rewrites and numerous proof reads happened over the next few months. The only break I took was from May 2012 through August when I ran for a local political office which took up any remaining time I had.

My additional free time was spent researching publishing options, cover artists, formatters and the like. These things, initially, I decided to do all by myself. I got to the end of the process, launched The Hunter’s Son and began writing the sequel the next day. I pushed through 17,000 words before I got so sick of the whole universe that I quit writing it and decided I would tell my wife how the series ends and be done. She, needless to say, refused to listen. Instead of taking a break from writing, I decided to pump out a short story collection. I figured I could do five or six small stories around 2,000-3,000 words each and have the whole collection out in a month. Never once did I stop to think if I was putting too much pressure on myself. Working ten hour days, coming home and writing for two or three hours before bed, while fitting in dinner, time with my wife and friends, blogging and promotion was just the routine. A routine that was simply not working for my life style.

This has led me to a more normal pace. I am still shooting for 7,000 words a week but am okay if I do not meet that goal. I am still hoping to have The Hunter's Vengeance out by early next year and a short story collection out by mid-summer. If those things do not happen, it won't be the end of the world, but I am going to try. I hope it happens and I am going to work hard to make sure it does.

I guess, after all this I want to say a few things to those of you reading. If you were enjoying the blog posts and updates, sorry. Sorry to my wife and friends for having to put up with crabby Ben for a few weeks. Sorry I did not pace myself. Sorry I did not realize what I was doing to myself. Sorry if anyone was let down by the lack of content. I may have hurt my “brand” by disappearing for a few weeks, but I needed it. Everything was starting to suffer, not just my work, but my attitude in general.

Moral of the story: Take your time. Pace yourself. Your true fans will stick around. It is okay if you don’t sell 500 books right away. If you want writing to become your job, don’t make it too much work, just work hard.

Common sense, right? Well, tell that to the version of me three weeks ago.

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