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“Well, I’m back,” I say, quoting the immortal words of Samwise Gamgee–and after the hustle and bustle of finally getting Operation Lionhearted* out into the world, I can also say that it’s very good to be back. My novel’s launch day was a beautiful one, made even more wonderful by a surprise from my family that evening:
I had handbell rehearsal that evening–something I’ve finally been able to return to after my accident–but I had no idea that my mom and sisters had planned an entire “Book Birthday Feast.” When I got home, the house was strangely quiet, and as I stepped into the kitchen I found the table laid out with my mom’s fine china, a vase of flowers, and champagne glasses. I barely had time to let out a startled “Oh!” when my parents and siblings burst out of hiding and yelled “SURPRISE!!!”
I’m rarely so thoroughly surprised; I’m usually pretty alert to everything that’s going on in our house! But I was also very, very blessed by the fact that they’d celebrate like that with and for me. I might’ve even cried a bit. It was really special.
Last week was an adjustment period, though. I mailed out a couple of copies for two different giveaways (the one here on my blog, plus the one on Instagram that I did with several other indie authors), and I received a big box of author copies on Friday. I also kept very busy with helping my mom plant our autumn garden, baked an eggnog cake for my sister Katie’s 19th birthday (recipe here), and wrote the first draft of my next article for Cultivating.
But not having Operation Lionhearted* as a crucial part of my daily schedule was definitely a bit strange…and the odd combo of relief and sadness confirmed for me that it’s time to “check myself into Writer Rehab.”
I’ve done this once before: at the end of 2019, on the advice of a writing teacher I met at that writing conference I attended in Nashville. I was mentally exhausted after completing Operation Lionhearted‘s sixth draft, and I told him so. He recommended I take a break from trying to create a different, original novel and refill my creative well instead. I gladly took this advice, rested for about a month and a half…and right after Christmas, I saw The Rise of Skywalker and immediately started writing fanfiction like I was running out of time 😉
No, those stories didn’t classify as “original novels”–but they got me writing again. Which is the whole point.
Fast forward to October 2021 and I’m once again a tired little peep. My writer friends tell me that feeling deflated after publishing a novel is very normal. But some of my non-writing priorities and obligations are also shifting and changing, and the busy holiday season is almost upon us…so I’m thinking the timing probably isn’t right for me to begin my next novel just yet. The ideas are there, but neither they nor I are quite ready.
(Of course, some movie or book could set my imagination on fire between now and Christmas. You never know.)
So what does Writer Rehab look like for me? It means…
- Not pressuring myself to write anything fictional if I don’t have the mental energy for it…
- …but also taking notes for anything that pops into my brain, whether it’s a character, a setting, or a scene.
- READING, READING, READING. I’m working my way through re-reads of To Kill a Mockingbird* and The Silmarillion*. (Yeah, they’re very different–but one is character-driven and the other is full of the adventure and high beauty I love so much!)
- Focusing on other projects: writing my Cultivating article, planning blog posts (including an important book review!) for the remainder of the year, working in our autumn garden, promoting Operation Lionhearted, and preparing for a part-time, remote job I can do right here at my writing desk.
‘Tis the cozy season, and I’m really leaning into it this year. The cold fronts are coming through every week or so at this point, and even though they leave my elbow aching and stiff, the fresh, crisp air they bring always leaves me invigorated. I’m far more likely to get excited about new beginnings and adventures in October and November than I am in the springtime. This year is no different, especially as I really am entering a slightly terrifying but truly exciting new period in my life.
What does your cozy season look like? Are you having fun with any new (or old) projects? Are you getting cooler weather yet? Let’s chat in the comments!