I was IMing with a friend this week and the subject of pressure came up. The pressure we put on ourselves so that it’s never enough.

I was saying that I look at multiple book deals like hers and I feel like my novella sale isn’t good enough when measured against that. I see that kind of success in people whose work I adore, friends who I’ve seen work hard and struggle and I don’t resent it or begrudge it, I celebrate that. But I also feel this pressure to measure myself against it and then I find myself lacking.

Funny, she said she looked at how fast I worked and felt like she wasn’t measuring up. (and hello, her writing is outrageously good)

It’s odd to me how hard we can be on ourselves. The pressure to produce and keep out there comes from a good place – readers who want more and publishers who want more. These are good things! But at the same time, it creates pressure.

Most of the time, I find myself in a groove. I work every day. It’s okay, that’s who I am. I’m not vain when I say I work damned hard. I do. I give up sleep to do this but I love it and I’m blessed to be able to live my dream. Anyway, I have my groove and I work on multiple projects and keep moving forward. If I do this, I usually have projects at different places in the chain of release so I can break up my schedule with edits, revisions, writing manuscripts of a few different genres. It keeps things interesting for me and usually I don’t have time for the doubts and the stress.

But every once in a while if things get quiet for five minutes I start to feel the stress of it all. Wondering if I’ll ever make another NY sale. Wondering if the next time I try to write I’ll end up dry.

I read Alison Kent’s blog earlier this week and saw her talking about producing as well – as in the time we spend on our books and not having the time we need because of the need to get more books out there in a year.

Generally, I feel like I give the time to get the backstory right. Too much time sometimes when I obsess about small details (maps are my obsession). It would be nice to put out a book a year so I could spend more time on the obsessive details and not have the pressure to produce more. But you know, I put out nine books in 2007, wrote five of those in the calendar year and another five, a novella, and two partials. That’s damned productive and I think they’re all fine books with good plotting, story and writing. But I still feel like I haven’t done enough and I wonder if it’s just a matter of personality or what.

This sort of touches on something Jordan said at her blog about goals. I keep a list of goals but I try to be general. I used to be very specific but found that I got all bogged down in the details when it’s not the details of title and which story, but the follow through with the overall goals of writing and completing projects, editing, seeking new markets, etc.

So why don’t we give ourselves a break? Maybe people do. Maybe I’m the only one who feels like if if I don’t do it NOW, I’ll never do it. I’ll fail or not measure up, or one of a dozen other things that plagues your sanity and turns a confident person into a mass of insecurity at least for a few days each month.

4 comments to “Pressure”

  1. Kathy Wheatley
    December 18th, 2006 at 5:51 am · Link

    Lauren, Since I bought just about every story you wrote this year, I say you did great, and you don’t have to feel the need to top 2006! I loved all the stories, and have re-read them all.

    My self-pressure has to do with the fact I promised my grandchildren homemade doll clothes. My sewing room is covered with fabric bits right now. The 2 older grands have a six-month old baby-girl cousin. The middle grand 4 year-old , Paige, asked me to make cloth diapers for her Baby Alive…like her cousin, Abby, wears, with diaper covers!!
    Heh, my “green” grandchildren…but hold on, Baby Alive pees and poops, so, who is going to wash these diapers, hum?

    Relax, Lauren, and enjoy the Holidays!

  2. Jordan Summers
    December 18th, 2006 at 2:19 pm · Link

    You’re definitely not alone. The pressure I feel is both external and internal. I take note of the deals being made by other authors and the amount of books they put out a year, which is honestly not helpful. I also ‘feel’ like since I didn’t get started in writing professionally as early as I would’ve liked that I’m in continuous catch-up mode.

  3. Jodi Lynn Copeland
    December 20th, 2006 at 12:40 pm · Link

    You are so not alone, Lauren! I try not to look at other’s sales and let them effect me, but they do a lot. This last year has been really good for me, but also really bad. I took off about six months from writing after the baby was born and I have a huge gap in releases because of it. I hate that huge gap. I feel like I totally slacked off and let my readers down. Now I am writing again, but my productivity level is down and I feel myself reading and rereading and rereading and rereading every single word as I feel so pressured to get the story right and deliver the best product I can. This is a great job to have, but it is one that certainly comes with stress and often professional jealously, despite our best attempts not to be.

  4. N.J. Walters
    December 20th, 2006 at 4:31 pm · Link

    You are so not alone, Lauren. I know I’m constant feeling as if I’m not doing enough. I came to writing later in my life and feel as if I’m struggling to catch up. I always feel like I should be doing more. I see fellow authors (yourself included) getting NY contracts and am so proud of all of you and want to celebrate your success. But at the same time, I wonder if it will ever be me. Then I tell myself that I’m so very lucky to be publishing with two fabulous companies. I love what I do and I’ll keep doing it as long as someone will buy my books. And, in the end, that’s what it’s all about.