Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Writing 101: Can You Be Too Disciplined?

When you are a self-published author, you've got to be your own boss. That meas being hard on yourself, sometimes. You've got to tell yourself to get to work when that great movie is on cable, say "thanks but no thanks" to certain social outings in order to get more done, sit at the computer screen to write when you'd rather be on Twitter. But it is possible to be too hard on yourself. Can you be too disciplined?


The indie author game moves quickly. New books are published every single day, and new authors are appearing on Twitter like an ever-recycling magic trick. You've got to keep tweeting, keep blogging, keep publishing and keep staying active if you want to stay in the game. And when you also have to work a full-time job, maintain a social life, keep up some degree of a family life and still take care of yourself, you've got to be driven. You've got to stay motivated. You've got to keep working. 

Because you've got to do all this, you can start driving yourself a little too hard to get it all done. And I ought to know. You can be too disciplined. I know, because I am.

I'm officially a terrible boss. I've been this way for a while (I've even blogged about it before), so this is not behavior that I've managed to correct. The problem is that I tend to be too disciplined, and believe me that's not a positive attribute that I'm trying to pretend is a flaw. It's a genuine flaw, and you may have it, too. 

I know I'm too disciplined, because I only get more than 5 hours of sleep a night on Saturdays (when I get 7). Some days, I only sleep for 4 hours. It's not because I'm awake all hours having a good time. I'm awake writing, and blogging, and tweeting and doing all the stuff that indie authors have to fit in around the periphery of their day-to-day lives. 

And frankly, I'm exhausted. My judgement is so impaired when it comes to my newest book project that it's been finished for weeks and I can't decide whether or not to even release it. My thoughts are so scattered that I've been holding entire conversations with people and forgetting them 5 minutes later. Other people watch TV around me, and I have no idea what's been on the screen for three hours.

I'm getting a lot of stuff done, but I'm not getting a whole lot out of it. That's too disciplined, and any indie author can get to this point. Any self-published author can take on too many tasks and then convince themselves they've got to complete them all. 

But you can't drive yourself that hard all the time, and I'm not going to, either. I'm taking a small vacation later this month and taking a long weekend off, because I drive myself to work all the time. And anyone can drive themselves mad if they work too hard, even an indie author. So take a break, take a breath, and don't forget that your favorite employee needs some down time, too.

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