Sometimes You Just Are Who You Are

I know by now how to be a successful indie: Write under one pen name, ideally in one series of novels, hits the needs of a target market that is large enough to make a living, and publish on a regular schedule (four books a year or more)

But it’s not me.

This year I have written and published one YA fantasy, one contemporary romance bordering on women’s fiction, one dating advice book for men, three books for self-publishers (one on AMS, one on ACX, one on CreateSpace), four books on Microsoft Excel, two holiday romance short stories, and also revised and republished a series of seven erom short stories.

That adds up to 365,000 words so far and the year isn’t done. I still expect to publish at least two more non-fiction titles before the year is out.

Even though I’ve been seeing steady improvement in sales and income year-to year, my failure to just pick a direction and stick with it has been bugging the shit out of me. I mentally beat up on myself on a regular basis for what I’ve viewed as a failure to focus. It’s one thing to not know how to succeed (which was me for the first couple years). But to see how it’s done and still not do it? I mean, what the hell?

Turns out, though, that my writing across a ton of subjects and genres is actually just part of who I am.

I think I’d mentioned already that I took a course this month called Write Better Faster that’s offered through the Lawson Writer’s Academy ( The course uses a variety of personality tests to see what kind of person you are and then talks about the best way for you to write or edit or plan, etc. based on your type.

Part of being me, for example, is being a pantser. And being an emotions-based writer. And needing my own workspace. And getting stuck in loops where I check on sales, internet, FB, sales, etc. and get nothing done.

But another part of being me is being a Strategic-Learner personality. (Strengthsfinder: And part of that is a desire to keep learning new things.

With my writing that’s manifested as wanting to learn something new (like AMS ads), writing about it once I feel I have, and then wanting to move on to something else.

(It also explains why some day jobs have been horrendous fits for me even though the pay was good.)

Does a part of me wish I were that single-minded writer? Oh, absolutely. Can you imagine publishing 365,000 words a year in a successful series?

But it’s not me and it’s not what interests me about writing. I like the challenge of writing and creating a world that works. Or of finding a way to take the knowledge in my head and put it in a form that others can understand and learn from.

Ideally, I’ll get to the point where I can be me as a writer and make enough to not stress about money, but it’s a relief to realize or reaffirm who I am and how I experience my world. Next step is to give some thought to how I use what I now know about myself to move up to that next level.

So that’s where I am today. Accepting who I am and what I need from my work to be happy.

(And I cannot recommend this class highly enough. Seriously. If you get a chance, take it. It is well worth it.)

Halfway Through Nano

So it’s November 15th. Which means we’re halfway through Nano. I have never actually done Nano myself. It’s not something that would work for me. (Although I have written 20,000 words or so so far this month so may actually hit the Nano goal. But when you self-publish, most months are Nano-style months. Or at least you wish they were.)

And I suspect at this point that there are some folks out there that have maybe decided that Nano isn’t for them either. If you’re one of those people, that’s OKAY. One of the joys and frustrations of being a writer is that there’s no clear path that we all need to follow. It’s like a million streams rolling down a hill, each one taking it’s own unique approach. So Nano didn’t do it for you? That’s fine. Just keep writing when you can and at your own pace.

I’m taking a great class right now called Write Better Faster ( that delves into how different personality types approach writing and how they encounter different issues with their writing because of it. Today’s lecture reminded me why one of my best writer-friends routinely does all her writing in a bar and why I have to do my writing in a dedicated home office. And why I would probably be miserable trying to write in a bar and she’d be miserable writing at home.

We’re all different. So if one approach isn’t working for you, don’t beat yourself up or think that means you can’t do this. It just means you need to take a different approach– one that works for you. Along those lines, Patricia C. Wrede had a great post up today: Pavement Conditions. As someone who cusses out the California drivers every year the first snow falls in Colorado and who grew up in the mountains, I found her analogy here very apt.

You have to know where you are and what will work under those conditions. And realize that sometimes what worked before isn’t going to work now. The key is to just keep trying and moving forward.

(And if you find that you’re sort of kind of done with Nano at this point but still committed to writing, might I suggest you take a look at the NaNoWriMo StoryBundle. There may just be a book in there that speaks to you…)