Friday, November 30, 2012

On productivity, burn-out, and keeping the brain minty fresh.

I sat down yesterday and did a quick couple of calculations. I've had 19 releases with Siren-BookStrand this year, of which 9 were "new" books as opposed to re-releases I gave to Siren when I got the rights back.

Plus two self-releases (one fiction, one non-fic).

Plus one manuscript I'm turning in to Siren today.

So this year, I've churned out 12 "new" books, making approximately a book a month. Now, to be fair, on some of the manuscripts I'd already written parts of them, say anywhere from 1-10k words on them. Some were manuscripts I sat down cold at the trusty Toshiba Satellite and started from scratch. Not all of them were huge, some were a little over 30k long, while some were in the 60-70k range.

Yes, I write full-time as my evil day job (EDJ). Yes, I am a touch typist since 7th grade when the Hillsborough County School system saw fit to give me typing instead of band (which I'd wanted). (And thank you, nameless school administration wonks for that, even though I hated you at the time.)

Yes, I have a hubby who is retired and has, literally, taken over all the day-to-day chores and animal care and all that stuff. (Hey, the care and feeding of a writer is no easy task either, let me tell you.)

I also have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, in addition to arthritis.

I have to do edits on my books when they're sent to me by my publisher, I have to do blog posts like this one, I have to self-promote.

I also have to come up with new things to write and avoid burn-out at the same time.

There are plenty of days where I just cannot write, where sitting in a chair at my computer is physically impossible. So take away a third of my time for that right off the bat. Not to mention, I'm human, not a robot. I need time to recharge and relax or I cannot write. So take away that time. I have family obligations. I have things around the house I either have to do or have to help Hubby do because he either can't do them or doesn't know how to do them.

There have been plenty of deadlines where my work week ahead of time has been a death-defying crunch of writing frenzy to make sure the book is in. Literally at the last minute, but it's in.

This is a definite recipe for burn-out, to be sure. One of the best ways for me to avoid that is to either read or write or watch something totally out of the genre I'm currently working on. For example, I was a recent convert to The Walking Dead and in the space of one weekend where I felt like crap, I caught up on the entire show between Netflix and On Demand. I've also read some of the graphic novels and related books.

Nothing romantic about that show, let me tell you what. But I do have plans for a post-apocalyptic kind of series, so I drew ideas and pointers from TWD.

There are times when my brain is fried for the day, I'll sit on the couch and watch TV with Hubby and, if my hands allow it, I'll crochet. It's a way to help turn off the "thinking" part of my brain and turn on the "doing" part of it.

There are days, even if I feel physically good enough to sit in front of the computer, that I will force myself to take a mental health day. (I will work seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day, if I don't make myself stop.) On those kinds of days, I'll read, play games on my iPad, catch up on anime, or whatever, to just generally screw around. A day off. I also shoot skeet with Sir (when my body feels up to it) once a week. (Although those times I work into my schedule, forcing me to cut a work day short.) I also hash when I feel up to it (mix jogging/walking with the Rocky Horror Picture Show and a human hare/hound hunt and add beer -- although I don't drink -- and drunken raunchy songs, and that's hashing).

All this is necessary. Otherwise, I would be sitting in front of my laptop looking like a TWD cast extra and drooling and moaning, "Iddeeaaazzz..."

As a writer, you have to get out in the world, even if it's just away from your desk for a while. Yes, you need to have self-discipline to make yourself write, especially if you have an EDJ that pays your bills. Find time to scribble during your commutes, or if you drive, use a digital voice recorder to dictate ideas and transcribe them later. Snatch those parcels of time for yourself. And just because you're not "writing," use the time to work on plots or characters in your head. Carry a notebook with you everywhere to scribble down ideas because, yes, you WILL forget them if you don't.

And then take a look at your schedule and see where you can trim away useless stuff that isn't serving your writing. Is there a show on TV you can DVR and watch later instead of sitting down then and watching it?

But likewise, don't be so driven that every spare moment is devoted to writing without thought to keeping your brain refreshed. Your brain is your writing muscle. You have to care for it every bit as much as you do your body.

* * *

Annnd on to other news...

*Snoopy dancing* It's release day for "Out of Bight, Out of Mind," the fourth (but not the last) installment in my Deep Space Mission Corps series from Siren-BookStrand. When I wrote the first book in the series back in 2009, I actually had to compose the manuscript on a teeny tiny little netbook, using a USB mouse and keyboard attached to it, because the screen on my main laptop died and had to get fixed. LOL

Now that's perseverance. LOL


[Siren Ménage Everlasting: Erotic Futuristic Sci-Fi Ménage a Quatre Romance, M/M/M/F, HEA]

Emi Hypatia loves her job exploring the galaxy with her three husbands, Aaron Lucio, Caph Bates, and Ford Caliban. When a nonhuman crewman is temporarily assigned to the Tamora Bight for a mission, Emi hates and mistrusts him at first sight due to what her empath training tells her.

Aaron, Caph, and Ford know Emi can't help what she feels about their temporary crewmate, Kayehalau. But they don't know if it's just the jump engines wigging her out, residual nerves from her fight on Kal'moran, or something else. They feel badly Kayehalau's presence on board makes her nervous, but orders are orders.

Emi knows Kayehalau is up to no good. She just has to prove it. It's soon apparent he wants to use her for a nefarious purpose. She turns the tables, but only after she's out of harm's way does her larger problem become apparent. Can Aaron, Caph, and Ford rescue her when she's left Out of Bight, Out of Mind?

A Siren Erotic Romance

Tymber Dalton is a Siren-exclusive author.


The correct reading order is:

1) Love at First Bight
2) Bightmares
3) Spider Bight
4) Out of Bight, Out of Mind

You can find all my Siren releases as Tymber Dalton, Lesli Richardson, Macy Largo, and Tessa Monroe on my Siren page at:


Mia Downing said...

Congrats on the release! I hear you on filling the well in different ways. I often read out of genre or opposite of what I'm writing. If I'm writing m/f, I'll read m/m, or go extreme and do YA or fantasy. I'm glad you're finding the right balance for you!

J Lilley said...

I have fibro and arthritis, though not too bad at the moment. I write when I can, plot in my head when I can't. (and usually forget what i've plotted) I read and walk and put the world to rights with a friend on those walks.
otherwise you'd need to prise me off the lap top...

Tymber Dalton said...

@Mia - Thanks!:)

@J Lilley - If you have a smart phone, there are a lot of free voice recorder apps you can get, so you could always record while on your walks.