Guest Post: Terri Herman–Poncé

How Book Marketing Rejuvenated My Writing Spirit

Marketing. It’s the ugliest, dirtiest word an author can probably think of. It’s something most of us avoid with every possible effort— even me, a degreed marketer — and yet it’s something we can’t live without.

There is a point to my bringing up this very sore subject, but I have to backtrack a bit first. When I released my latest book in December, I spent most of my days plugging forward, trying to market the release, trying to find traction, and trying to get noticed. Yeah, that other ugly word known as “discoverability”. Then I got bogged down with the holidays, the New Year, and other real life situations that sucked the momentum and the motivation out of me. After I released that book late last year, I used all of those circumstances as excuses not to start writing my next story. I told myself that I’d start writing after the craziness subsided. After I felt more settled. After I could catch my breath. But with every excuse I found not to write there was another excuse right on its heels, fueling my non-momentum.

And yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it all before, just like you. “The only way to write is to sit down and write.” Well, um, that’s kinda hard to do when your focus is pulled in way too many directions (including a day job and a family). And it’s even harder when you realize that the phrase “the only way to write is to sit down and write” is, at times, a bunch of bull.

There is this thing called giving yourself a break. More than that, there is this thing called sanity, and often the only way to find it is to pull back, full force, and let your mind and body and emotions heal from whatever’s taken you away from your writing.

So now let’s fast-forward to February (when I’m actually writing this blog). When I finally accepted that giving myself time off was Okay (yes, with a capital ‘O’), I allowed myself the luxury of not thinking about any particular storyline. I had one started already. A few chapters, in fact. But it wasn’t wooing me or wowing me. So I let my mind wander and one day, on the train home from work in New York City, an idea struck like a thunderbolt. I swore I had the Next Best Story Idea. I wrote it down feverishly (all 150 words of it) and then wrote some more the next day (another 600 words), and then…pfft. The idea fizzled. I just couldn’t get going again. No matter how I tried, I just couldn’t do it. So I started making more excuses. Sensing a pattern here? I knew something was wrong, but yet I refused (refused!) to allow myself feel guilty over it. So I quietly stuck the new story idea away with some others sitting on my flash drive, forgave myself for the slip, and settled back into the “I’m not motivated and I’m not going to write” mindset.

That lasted another week until I happened on an author marketing blog, where something magical happened. I started reading about tactics to engage readers. How to make book marketing fun again. How to share your excitement with others. Oh, the ideas weren’t anything new, but the blogger was a cheerleader. He had ideas, he shared his ups and downs with his audience (with compete honesty), and he was willing to share what he learned. And the more I read his blog, the more excited I became over possibilities. My possibilities.

That very night the writing ideas sparked to life in my head. The stagnant story sitting on my flash drive, the latest love of my life that I was ready to divorce, came back to my creative front door and I accepted it with open arms. And I started writing again.

Maybe I just needed to use a different part of my brain. Maybe I really did need a mental and emotional break. Maybe it was something else that I’ll never quite figure out. Whatever the case, an energetic blog about book marketing turned out to be the impetus I needed to get my writing butt in gear and I’m all charged up now for the next book. More than that, I’ve got a new focus on my own marketing plan that was, dare I admit, gathering way too much dust in my saved files just like my started-and-stopped storylines.

The moral of the story here? It’s okay to not write every day. It’s okay to take breaks (even long ones, if you really need it). It’s okay to not feel guilty over the hiatus, because sometimes a sanity-pause is in order. And it’s okay to let yourself go and be free from worrying about it. But most importantly? Know that in some way you will eventually find your way back to writing. You’ll find that passion again. And in the process, you just may learn something new about you, and your next book, along the way.

***

Terri looks for any opportunity to make stuff up. She thinks anything that can’t so easily be explained is worth an extra look and often makes a great story. She loves red wine, scotch, sunrises, Ancient Egypt, the beach—and a host of other stuff that would take too much real estate to talk about. The youngest of five children, Terri lives with her husband and son on Long Island. And, in her next life, if she hasn’t moved on to somewhere else, she wants to be an astronomer. Terri’s fascinated with the night skies almost as much as she’s fascinated with ancient Egypt.

Terri is a member of member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and you can read about her at http://terriponce.com/.

If you love social media, you can also find Terri on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Terri.Ponce.Author and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TerriPonce. Come visit. She’d love to hear from you!Facebook Banner_2

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29 thoughts on “Guest Post: Terri Herman–Poncé”

  1. Thanks for visiting, Terri. Yes, sanity is important. Writing every day energizes me, but I admit I took a long break over the holidays and it felt good. And I think I need that blog address – marketing and discoverability ARE dirty words! LOL

  2. This resonates. Love the idea that there’s something about walking away that can bring us right where we need to be. What a cool post–I feel inspired. Thanks, Terri!

  3. Thanks Terri – please let us know that blog address. Sounds like the perfect motivator. And thank you for the validation. I sent my latest off to beta readers last night and I decided to take a break (from novel writing) until the end of this month. Guilt immediately ensued. Now I feel better about the decision.

  4. Terri, Yes, sometimes we have to walk away before we can come back to a project. In 2013, I tried my first NaNoWriMo. I made it 36K words before I turned my attention to other things, and that half manuscript sat for months. I came back to it in May 2014 and was energized with where the story could go. I wrote the second half that month. It wouldn’t have been the same book if I’d powered through in November, and it’s a much better book because of it!

  5. Hello, everyone, and thanks for having me here today! I love this group and I adore this blog, and I’m hoping we can have some fun hanging out together. What a treat for this Friday!

  6. Mary – I don’t know why we put so much pressure on ourselves that we have to produce every day. I think there’s something very important about taking time off and rejuvenating the self and the soul and the spirit. In the end, it’s good to refocus.

  7. Guilt is horrible, isn’t it Kait? What an unproductive emotion. But when faced properly, when we realize it’s okay to step back and take time for ourselves, it disappears and frees us up to do what’s most important for us.

  8. Diane, I think NaNoWriMo can definitely spark some creative writing, but burnout is one of the big reasons I stay away from doing it. I’m one of those people who has to let a story percolate for a while. Looks like stepping back worked for you as well, and I’m wishing you the best of luck with that resurrected manuscript.

  9. Theresa, what a lovely and absolutely perfect analogy. So poetic, and so true. Sometimes the best things that grow are those that have the time to properly take root.

  10. Oh lordie, I should have expected you guys would ask for that website about marketing. I’ll try to dig it up, but I think it was related to an author marketing course I took that led me to dig through more and more websites. And then I fell down the rabbit hole and happened on that blog referenced here. If I can find which specific one it was, I’ll share it.

  11. We have nothing to write about if we don’t take the time to refill the well. How interesting that it took marketing to help you find your way back! Thanks for your post!

  12. Oh yikes! I marketed two books hard last fall, an anthology every now and again, and back to one of the first books. It’s so much. I wish I had more discoverability. Sigh. Marketing is a dirty word.

  13. I firmly believe, be gentle with yourself and your *inner self* will reward you back, give you not only what you need, but what you want. Who else knows you better? I love reading you when you are at your most honest too, like that cheerleader blogger. Honest people resonate, others merely rise high and fall hard.

  14. Oh, how I needed this, Terri. I’ve been beating myself up over the health issues sidelining me, trying to do more and and yet accomplishing less–this makes such sense. I’ll probably print it out and hang it next to my desk.

  15. Great post! I had the same experience. Two books out within a week of each other, marketing like crazy, added to holiday stress, busy day job, tax preparation. The stress about drove me around the bend. I too finally gave myself permission to step back a little and just live. A much needed break! Would love to read that inspiring blog post also, though I know different things move different people. Thanks so much for sharing, everyone!

  16. You’re right about using another part of your brain can spur your writing–at least, my experience tracks with yours. When I’m stuck in my writing, I go play with heat and pieces of glass. I get to focus on my art glass while my subconscious works on my writing. Works every time–so far, anyway.

  17. Terri,
    Awesome post, seriously! I’ve been where you are and it’s so hard to just give it a rest. There are so many pressures in this crazy publishing business that sometimes it sucks the very life out of me. You are spot-on that it’s OKAY to not write every day. I have begun to take weekends off and just enjoy whatever comes naturally.I wish I had Peggy’s glass work talent. Maybe I should find something like that to enjoy when the words just won’t come.

  18. Penn – you know the secret to my heart. Being gentle with myself, or anyone who could be more gentle with themselves, is not always an easy choice. But it IS a choice, and a good one for our soul.

  19. Wow, Leslie, I’m so happy to hear that my post inspired you to take a break. Why do we demand so much of ourselves? I have no idea, but being overwhelmed certainly isn’t good. Life is too short to waste on worrying about things like this. Nurturing the soul and giving us time to do what we need to feel whole again should be our number one priority. Always. 🙂

  20. Naomi, isn’t it amazing how similar we all are in what we have to deal with in day to day stresses? For writers, it can be harder because only another writer can truly understand how lonely life can feel when you’re holed up with your computer and your alternate reality.

  21. Peggy, isn’t it wonderful when we decide to step back and find another passion to give us focus? If it refreshes, it’s always a good thing. 🙂

  22. Nancy, maybe that’s part of the fun. Of giving yourself the moments to find another passion, or another way of spending a day, or an hour, or a week. We are driven, as a society, to always produce. Well, solitude or silence or serenity are also very productive but those truths aren’t given nearly as much importance as they deserve.

  23. What an inspirational post! Right at the moment I’m in the same place the author was a year ago and it’s good to know so many writers need to take some time off, yet struggle not to feel guilty about it! Feeling rejuvenated already. Thanks Terri Herman-Ponce.

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