This is going to be a pretty long post, fair warning. First of all, let’s talk about decluttering your life. This isn’t so much about real world stuff. I actually don’t have all that much crap, I got rid of physical media years ago (yay, digital… ripped from physical, because I don’t trust streaming services) and only have what I absolutely need as far as everything else goes. No problem.
No, my issue is digital crap. Images, music, video, all that stuff. And I have OCD as well, which doesn’t help my situation at all. In the real world I don’t give a crap about clutter really, I don’t have any compulsions about lining things up or cleaning or any of the other things OCD sufferers deal with. Thankfully.
But on my PC? Jeez, it’s a nightmare, lol. If I have clutter, like images saved from the net that aren’t sorted in some way, or music that hasn’t been sorted into appropriate subfolders, it’s one of those things that niggles at the back of my mind until I do it. Some people compulsively wash themselves (why can I not get rid of this blood? It’s like sand, it gets everywhere… wait, I think I’m mixing my references), I compulsively tidy my PC. It’s the worst, heh.
I’ve actually done a bit of Googling on this, but apparently digital OCD isn’t really recognised as a specific thing, it’s just one of many forms OCD can take. This annoys me, because now I don’t feel special. This also ties into the concept of hoarding, something else I’m prone to… which then means I have to sort all that shit I just hoarded, making the whole thing even worse. *sigh*
Anyway, that’s where the concept of decluttering comes in. I was reading a book by Jeff Goins a couple of days ago, great guy if you’re at all creative and want to be more efficient. Seriously, read his books, they’ll help. The one I was reading was mostly on blogging, titled ‘Your Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One)’, though a lot of the advice works for fiction as well, but mostly there was one little thing that stood out to me; he talked about decluttering your life.
Just swap out social media for digital hoarding and OCD-fuelled cleaning and you basically have me. As much as I dislike not actively writing, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and get on with other necessities. That said, I’ve actually been taking his advice and decluttering my PC. Thousands of images I never look at? Gone. About 1000 songs I basically never listen to? Gone. Videos and other distractions? Also gone.
It’s an oddly dichotomous feeling, lol. On the one hand it feels good to be rid of all that crap. On the other hand it feels bad getting rid of stuff I’ve been hoarding for months or years. But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? It just sits there doing nothing useful, and causes me bother in the process. So yeah, all gone 🙂
I even got rid of (or consolidated) a bunch of story ideas. Nothing especially important, just some random junk I’d never be likely to write since I already have so much else of higher importance to be getting on with. That helped as well, as it means less stuff in my ideas folder tempting me away from what I’m already working on.
Now, for the other issue, the considerably more important one revolving around my passion for writing. More specifically, my recent lack of passion. It’s been a chore to write for a while now. Even when I managed to get a few thousand words done, it didn’t feel like very good content to me. It had been bugging the shit out of me, frankly.
Thankfully, I’ve figured out my problem: writing so I can make money instead of writing because I love doing it. Now, this isn’t to say money isn’t important, especially given my less than ideal personal situation right now. Regular work is pretty much a big fat nope at this point, due to both physical and mental health conditions. So I need to be making money from my writing, no getting around it.
But in recent months I’ve found myself thinking about it the wrong way. Let’s take a quick tangent to talk about an old game studio I used to be fond of until they went to complete and utter shite: Bioware.
This company was founded by three guys fresh out of med school. They pooled $100,000 between them in the 90s and started their company because they wanted to make games. After learning to be doctors. Crazy, right? Anyway, their thinking followed this simple formula: we want to make games, ergo we need to make money.
Now let’s look at the corporate behemoth that ended up purchasing Bioware (coincidentally, it wasn’t long after this that they went downhill, hmmm): Electronic Arts. As a corporation, all they care about is more and more money, through increasingly nastier and more anti-consumer means (hi, Loot Boxes). For a garbage corporation like them the formula looks more like this: we want to make all the money, therefore we’ll make games (and then ruin them with tedious grind, godawful monetisation schemes, and shitty, casual, and gimped gameplay).
Pretty opposed stances, aren’t they? That’s the difference between an artist and a businessman, basically. But as an indie author, I need to be both of those things if I want to see success and support myself. Indie authors who suck at business never make any money and end up quitting because they can’t afford to live from their work.
Likewise, a pure businessman tends to fuck up art because they don’t understand it. Just look at what EA’s done in the last decade, hoovering up once-great studios, having them poop out terrible games that are well outside of their comfort zone, then shutting them down when the game inevitably fails (Anthem says hi, but it’s by no means the only example).
Anyway, I’ve been leaning too heavily towards the ‘I need to make money’ side of things, and in so doing I forgot the most important tenet of making money: your product needs to be stellar (or you need to be incredibly good at lying and have millions to pump into shiny crap that fools people into thinking it’s good. Oh, hi, Hollywood, didn’t see you there…). Due to my money situation, I’ve been looking for ways to make money instead of just making a kickass product.
That brings me to where I am now, and the state of this site (no new content in months… yeah, that’s not great, huh?). My main passion project, An Idol Romance, took probably the biggest battering due to my general lack of focus, and when I have focused on something, it’s been the wrong thing (rushing to get things published in hopes of making some money, for example).
An Idol Romance is important for a few reasons:
One, it’s my baby, a true passion project before all else. I’ve spoken about this with my patrons before, about how I basically screwed up my own chances years ago, by not considering a market for this series before writing it (protip: market research is an important part of running a business), but this is the first time I’ve really mentioned it openly.
Most artists dislike talking about financials for good reason, and I’m no different. But when it comes to my patrons? Yeah, they get a lot of behind the scenes content like that, so hey, if you happen to enjoy my writing already and are interested in that sort of extra content, maybe consider supporting [/ShamelessPlug].
Two, it’s a great experiment in tying together a massive series, providing me with experience and a whole shitload of frustration, lol. Series are the way to go these days, it’s not like ye olden times when a tradpub (traditionally published) author might put out maybe one book a year. No, it’s all about regular releases in the indie space, and a series is a challenge to write. A very enjoyable challenge, but a challenge nonetheless.
Which brings me to three, the existence of Kindle Unlimited. Page reads are the only metric that really matters here, and a series of novels is obviously the very best thing you can do if you’re targeting KU… which I am with some of my books. Pretty easy to see why I’d want a long series like An Idol Romance published and in KU; a single person reading the whole thing would actually net me more money through page reads than half a dozen direct sales would.
See how easy it is to fall back into talking about money? An Idol Romance is important to me in various ways, but number one was always my passion for writing it. Over the last couple of months I’ve been making changes to how I think about and do things, and I’m finally ready to get back into doing what I love.
Well… technically I’ve been back into it already, but mostly I’ve been talking to my patrons for the last couple of months and working hard to get some new content finished for them. On that subject, if you direct your eyes to the side bar, you’ll see a pre-order for books 6-10 of An Idol Romance. Which, it logically follows, means Books 1-5 are complete (you probably already figured that out from the cover I added to this post…).
I probably don’t need to state it, but… yeah, I rediscovered my passion 🙂
The first five books (all novella length, not full novels) in the series were published at the start of October as a big collection, though patrons get them as they’re completed instead of having to wait for the whole collection each time. The next five are coming this Friday, the… 13th. Huh. Unlucky for some. Hopefully not for me. Books 11-15 are then slated for the new year.
In addition to getting a load of good work finished on my fiction projects, I’m also working hard on some new site content, something a bit more regular. I started a mini-series a few months back talking about an anime called Release the Spyce, which didn’t get past the second post. Partly that was because of the aforementioned issues of losing my passion, but I also went about it in the wrong way.
I’m going to rewrite the whole thing and do more of a deep dive, talking about each episode and giving readers a proper idea of the plot for each before talking about story structure and other problems. If I’m going to do it, might as well do it thoroughly, right?
So that will be part of what I’m intending to write for the site; long-form deep dives into things I enjoyed or things I found lacking, across multiple mediums. Especially anime, as that’s a riiiiiiich vein to mine for both positive and negative critique, heh (a full post on that coming after this one, incidentally!). I’ll probably lean towards having one series of positive posts alongside a negative series to maintain an appropriate balance.
I also want to drive some traffic to other creators in the form of reviews and critiques. What goes around comes around, and I’ve received some good help from other people that I want to return. Maybe not directly to the same people, that’s not always possible, but certainly to the creator community as a whole.
And we’re done! I’ve had some pretty meh months this year, with a total lack of real motivation or passion, a bunch of life issues to deal with, and other things getting in the way of writing. But I finally feel like I’ve got back to a point where I can get on with what’s important to me again. The progress I’ve been making on An Idol Romance is testament to that.
That’s all for today, but certainly not all I have planned. Stay tuned!
Oh… actually, one last thing before I forget: I use a few pen names for different types of content, but for the site here I’m going to be going by the main one, Lily Lancaster. Keeps things simpler, then. The only exception to this is for actual releases, where I’ll use the name I’m releasing under.