What is the biggest physical challenge of being a writer?
I’m going to say maintaining spiritual wellness.
I know, it’s not really a physical challenge, except that it is. In a way.
Spiritual Wellness Encourages Physical Wellness
As writers, we have to create that bubble of energy to keep ourselves motivated and on track, and sometimes, that leads to being alone most of the time.
With the alone-ness comes the other by-products of creativity, which include a sedentary lifestyle, the tendency to eat (or not eat) when we’re living on another plane of existence, and the plain and simple disconnection with the world as we are composing.
Sometimes I don’t even feel the pain of a 12-hour marathon until I stop! And then, if I am hungry, I am REALLY hungry and certainly not reaching for veggies!
If we remember to keep ourselves spiritually well, it’s easier to remember to take care of our bodies and our mental state, because we have a higher view of our true purpose.
How a Low-Carb Diet Helped Ease My Pain
Last Christmas, my husband and I bought each other a treadmill with a desk. The thought was I would work out while I worked.
It’s October and I’ve used it….um…never.
That’s not to say it was a bad idea. It was a great idea, just underused.
As a result of this poor choice (and others in my life), I have had to deal with pain and inflammation this year.
Naturally, my friends and doctors are full of suggestions. My MD gave me a list of simple back exercises, others suggested turmeric as a natural inflammatory, and some even suggested setting a time to remind me to get up and walk around while I’m working.
As far as food choices go, I have to say that authors who are suffering from pain related to inflammation should consider avoiding carbs. Last year I went on a low-carb diet (almost a no-carb diet) and not only did my pain melt away, my brain was sharper and writing came more easily to me.
It also made it a lot easier to keep the weight off while sitting 12-14 hours a day.
I wish I could say I always follow my own advice, but maybe it’s more powerful to hear this from someone who is NOT behaving, and feeling the pain of it.
We Cannot Compare Ourselves to Other Authors
No matter how well we do, there is always someone doing better, which leads to this sense that maybe I should be doing better.
Ergo: I am a failure.
The fact of the matter is, we cannot compare ourselves to other authors.
I recently had a conversation with an author friend and we talked about this. What does success look like? When do you know you’ve “made it?”
The answer is, it depends.
It depends on why you write and what you are trying to achieve.
Financial Success Has Nothing to Do with the Quality of Our Work
Many people think that financial success is all that matters, but in our business, our financial success may have little to nothing to do with the quality of our work.
If you’ve ever read a terrible book that was a bestseller, you know what I mean. The same holds true for excellent books that never get traction.
Beyond that, we don’t always control so many elements of our financial success. Sad to say, many break out books are beneficiaries of some obscure algorithm no one can understand or impact.
I try to remember that my goal in writing is to consistently create quality books that touch readers, and I allow my relationships with those readers define my success.
It’s so easy to allow depression to silence the muse and when that happens, no one wins!
Each of Our Challenges Teaches Us Something
My philosophies of life help me deal with issues of ego and ambition and other issues that can either spur me on or get in the way.
I believe that life is like a classroom and we learn through our experiences. Therefore, I try to see the lesson in each of my challenges. This helps put things into perspective.
I love reading philosophical and spiritual books to keep me on track and remembering who I am and why I am here. Which is to serve.
I also am a firm proponent of the power of relationships. I spend a lot of my time developing or nurturing relationships with authors, readers and industry professionals. Not only does this help ease the pain of isolation, it’s a great tool for navigating the shallows of the publishing industry.
If I need help, there is always someone there for me, and vice versa.
Beyond that, what do we truly take with us when we shake off this mortal coil? It’s not the stuff we’ve collected. It’s the memories and the experiences we’ve shared with others.
My life has been enriched because of the friends I’ve made on this journey. And I hope I have enriched them too.
How to Deal with Bad Reviews: Promote Others
There have been many [darkest moments], I am sad to say, but let’s look at an early instance.
I was a new author and hoping to see good reviews of my first book. At the time, my publisher would send out a list of all the reviews written for their books. When the list came out each week, I would scan it for my name and when it wasn’t there, my spirits would tank.
I realized I had a choice here. I could be dismal and negative, or I could suck it up and quit whining.
Then I did something that changed everything. In addition to sucking it up and stopping with the whining, I took it a step further. I searched the list for my author friends and when I found their reviews, I shared them on social media.
This made me feel better. At least I was doing something positive with my energies.
I never realized that this simple act would become a cornerstone of my platform. These simple shares helped me build relationships with these other authors, some of whom went on to become superstars. Many of them turned around and gave me a hand up. Invited me to be in collections with them, attend conference with them and more.
I never expected anything in return. I did what I did out of purely selfish “I want to feel better about myself” motivation, but it had a much more powerful effect.
I still share my friends’ successes, because it makes me feel good. This is the purest form of generosity, I think, and whether or not anyone ever expresses their thanks, I have given myself a wonderful gift.
I Write for Readers, Not My Big Fat Ego
When I get off track, it’s usually because I let my ego get too big for its britches.
Have you ever met an author who has bought into her own PR? It’s not pretty. I see this as a danger zone because not only is it a false sense of value, it will taint the muse and sour relationships with others.
I deliberately work to remain humble, to remember who I work for, and it’s not my big fat ego. I write for my readers, for those ladies who love my books, for the people who feel my soul when reading them. Most especially for those who get my quirky sense of humor.
My friends and family really help in keeping my feet on the ground. True story: A couple months after I hit the New York Times bestseller list (several years into my writing career), my hubby asked: “What’s your pen name again?”
Yeah. Friends and family are great at reminding you who you really are.
Also, my dog loves me no matter how my books do. In fact, I suspect she’s never even read one.
Advice for a Young Writer: Do What You Love for the Joy of It
The hardest part of creation is that not everyone will see your light shining through your work. Some people will be apathetic and some downright mean.
Do not let them silence your voice. Do what you do for the pure love of it. Focus on the beauty and the soul of your art and allow that to be your motivation, your purpose your, your reward.
They say “Follow your heart and the money will follow,” and it’s true. It just might take a while.
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Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of hot, humorous romances. Her titles range from sweet & snarky to scorching romance in historical, contemporary and fantasy sub-genres. Represented by Nicole Rescinti at the Seymour Agency.
Cowboy to Command: Just south of Fort Worth, Texas, you’ll find a little ranch where the hot, toned cowboys are ready and eager to take it all off and make your naughtiest fantasies come true…
Satisfaction is the name of the game at the Double S Ranch, where the men are more than willing to play. They come from all walks of life, and each has their own reason for dancing for a lady’s pleasure.
A former Navy SEAL, Brandon Stewart started dancing after an injury in the field put him out of commission. The power he commands when a woman’s eyes are locked on him makes Brandon feel like the man he used to be. But when he meets Porsche, Brandon has never felt more stripped bare.
The spirited beauty needs a handsome fake boyfriend to make another man jealous. But Brandon is determined to prove to Porsche that pretending with him is nothing compared to the real thing…
Available at Amazon.
Sabrina’s thoughts on this book: “In Cowboy to Command, my hero has a lot to deal with. He’s a former SEAL who’s been injured to the point he has a hard time seeing himself as a real man. He finds redemption and peace through his relationship with the heroine who, frankly, won’t allow a pity party. Aside from that, she has issues of her own he helps her deal with. It was a challenge for me to tackle such a deeply wounded hero, but I have to say, Brandon is one of my favorites now.