The Virtues of a Soft Reboot

While the phrase originated in computer jargon, we hear about “soft reboots” much more when it comes to movies and television shows these days. A soft reboot resets a property while trying not to change it too much–just like what I’m here once more to do with my blog.

All the way back in the misty days of 2014, the original 30 Days Experiment taught me a lot about my abilities as both a novelist and a blogger. At the time, I hadn’t even come close to writing a novel before, though I’d been mentally playing with the same story idea for more than a decade. That first fateful Camp NaNoWriMo was a lark for me. I went into it thinking, “Sure, I’ll probably fail, but what have I got to lose?” and ended up with a terribly rough but finished draft. I experienced the rush of writing a story that comes together at the climax seemingly by magic. I was hooked.

And now it’s 2017, more than a year since I last stopped by for even a token update. In the years since, I’ve continued writing–in my scattered fashion–and even took one novel through the process of revision and temporary ebook publishing.

However, life outside the noveling game has been rough at times. I’ve been dealing with physical health issues that cause fatigue and mental health issues that impede my focus, plus my family’s struggle to survive financially. 2016 was an especially tough year, piling hunger and stress on top of my four separate mental disorders. I didn’t get very much done; what I did accomplish was usually more unfinished first-drafting. It’s always easier and more fun to chase a new, shiny idea.

To be quite honest, life is just as stressful right now as it was last year. My family’s still struggling to afford food, I’m still battling my ADHD and bipolar symptoms among other disorders, and I was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism. On top of all that, we may be moving soon, and a lot of the prep for that will fall to me. A reasonable person might ask: why am I rebooting my blog in the middle of this chaos?

Beyond the fact that a large part of me thrives in chaos, the main reason is that being so sick lately, so unable to do more than think about the writing work I wasn’t doing, left me with plenty of time to remember why I write in the first place, and why I used to enjoy it more than I do now.

One of the most important lessons I learned in 2014 was that updating daily about my work kept me on track–but that doing so while also writing a novel each day was unsustainable in the long term. Sure, I could do it for a thirty-day mad dash, but I couldn’t extend that to another mad dash the next month, and the one after that. However, sharing snippets of my work helped remind me of its value, and posts about my process kept me invested–the blog fed the work even though it was tiring sometimes.

Since then, the most important thing I’ve learned is that I have great capacity for working hard with little to show for it. While in the last three years I’ve begun no less than eight more novels, only twice have I completed a draft and only once moved to the revision stage. I didn’t realize it back during those first 30 days, but it turns out that diving into a badly written first draft is actually the addictive, fun part for me.

My spouse is incredibly supportive, and doesn’t care whether I’m selling erotica under a pseudonym, searching for a literary agent, or plugging away at the same series for years, as long as I keep trying–but with our financial troubles and my hummingbird-style attention span, I lost sight of what I’ve wanted all along. The Dream, that wonderful mental image of my book on a shelf, paper pages I can flip through with my name on the cover, requires that I edit the book I already wrote, rather than getting lost in all the books not yet written.

So when it comes down to it, the rest is all distractions. Whether it’s working on other peoples’ books for money, trying my hand at different genres for a challenge, writing fanfic to stay sharp, or chasing more “marketable” ideas in every new draft…it’s all secretly procrastination, which I am an expert at.

It’s time that stops.

I hereby declare June 2017 to be the soft reboot of my blog. For the next few weeks, life events have to take precedent over any organized writing, so I have no idea what I’ll be working on. But I am using my time to sort out my novel in my head, the revisions it needs, the questions I haven’t answered–which will give me plenty to discuss here. And my very first novel, the one closest to my heart, will be my main focus until I’ve actually gotten it to where it needs to be.

Going forward, my goal is to offer several posts per week, each including a sample of what I’ve been working on recently, as a way to stay enthused and connected–not just to my inner writing world, but to all of you. 🙂 Welcome back, and thanks for reading!

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The Virtues of a Soft Reboot

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