Self doubt sucks. And it serves very little point other than to spoil productivity. Now, there is the obvious kind of self doubt, the self doubt that says “you are a terrible artist and everyone thinks your work is crap.” I’m sure all independent artists have to put up with that little voice and we all have different little ways of putting it to bed. That kind of doubt and me are old friends so it doesn’t really get in the way much anymore.
The type of doubt that tends to trip me up fall into the category that I like to think about as Book Math. There are all kinds of Book Math. Very few of them actually put me in a creative frame of mind and yet Book Math keeps popping into my head.
Let’s start with the “how long is this going to take me” Book Math.
Right now I have about two solid weeks until I finish summer break and go back to my normal day job. Naturally, this means this is my big chance to get some pages under my belt on the sequel, which I am behind on. This is all a positive. Until I start thinking in Book Math terms. Rather than just letting myself have the free time to write I have to let myself turn it into an impossible competition with an imaginary deadline.
I’ll explain. I have X amount of days to write, so if I write Y words in those X days then I can finish the rough draft. Y is just out of my comfort zone for daily writing. So, rather than taking advantage of the time I have I am currently in lamenting that I am can’t finish everything in 15 days. Because taking 21 days is horrible or something. Obviously writing any amount of words is better than writing 0 words, but here I am at almost noon accomplishing so many things that aren’t writing. Book Math.
And then there another type of Book Math. The “how much is this going to cost me” Book Math. Last year I raised around $3000 dollars to make a print run of Deadly Troubadours. I learned a lot from that experience and am looking to do the same thing for the Sequel. But as I think about it, all my worries of getting funded come back. People helped fund the first one because it was a first book. Will they help with the second? What about those seven orders I still have open that haven’t shipped? How can I think about funding a second novel when all my copies of the first haven’t been delivered? (Some are schedule problems, others are slow art. I love my artist, but she suffers from deadline withdrawal.)
I think about the hustle and money that it takes to print a book and it makes me pause. Is this the right way to go down? Maybe I should be looking into another method of getting my writing out there. Let that lay some eggs in your brain and *bam* a whole day of writing can go down the poop chute.
And then there is all the self doubt wrapped into “how many people are reading my book” Book Math. Being a complete independent all I really got going for me to get my book into peoples hands is charm and pressure. But even when I do succeed in getting the book into peoples hands getting them to read it is another story. I feel like I’ve sold roughly a couple hundred copies all told. Of those I’ve gotten about 30 confirmed reads. So, likely a read rate of 10-15%. Now that is a Book Math that sticks in the head. Why am I writing if no one is reading?
The review Book Math is kind of a cousin. It is basically the “how do I get more reviews?” Still working on this.
Not only do all of these Book Maths tend to kill my motivation for getting into the creative side of the day, but spending time on solving those issues takes time from actually writing. I know that the best way to finish a book is to write a book. The best way to get more readers is to write more books. Same for more reviews. Sure, there are methods that enhance and help, but actually writing is the main ingredient. Still, I can get lost in the side problems of Book Math rather than actually writing. And so far the only actual cure I have found for Book Math problems is just to ignore, push through and keep on writing.
Which is what I need to go do right now.