growing by subtracting

personal growth by shedding old habits that no longer serve me

growing by subtracting
Photo by Mehdi MeSSrro on Unsplash

I'm in the throes of a strange illness — there's a lot of fatigue and body ache, weakness and chills, but no fever that I could tame with Tylenol or Advil — so what I wish to write feels raw and true to me.

I want to add a disclaimer that I may feel differently tomorrow, but I think that's just out of habit, out of years of doubting my own wisdom, because it is at times like these, unencumbered by the noise of the world outside that my heart speaks its truth loud and clear.

So here are the things I wish to drop from my daily habits, from my life in general.

tracking my daily word count

I no longer write to a set word count goal. I've moved to a time-block goal, aiming to sit at the desk for 2—4 manuscript time blocks (30 minutes of spending time in the manuscript, as author coach Becca Syme puts it) on work days i.e., days when little D is at school.

I do check my word count achieved at the end of it and note it down on a lovely printable monthly calendar from BigLifeJournal. On days when I haven't written, I give myself a heart sticker instead, reminding myself to be kind about it all.

I don't anything with this data, though. I rarely ever go back and map that data to see how I can improve and where. I already know what my writing process is like; I just have to accept that I am indeed conscientious enough to sit down and write on days that I can and that it's ok to have days when I'm not able to write.

So there really is no point tracking my word count.

buying more and more books on StoryBundle or on Kickstarter, or even downloading free books!

Sometimes I go crazy and just buy books from other indie authors in the spirit of supporting them. But I don't actually get around to reading them. What I read are the books I bring back home from the library. Paperbacks and hardbacks.

Indie writing off late seems to have completely moved in the direction of fast-paced and wildly entertaining tales. While these are great, I also love the slow, meandering works I often pick up from the library.

Still ... I rarely ever go back and re-read a book. And the ones I have on my Kindle from wherever I may have accumulated them, mostly sit unread. I download a bunch of them, without even really knowing the title or the author, and they disappear into some sort of an oblivion on the device.

I have access to a lot of books already. I don't need to stockpile more. There will always be plenty of books to read.

putting my books out there for free

I'm currently participating in two promotions — one is The Hero's Dilemma to build my newsletter over on BookFunnel throughout this month, and another is one being run by IASFA for 5 days later this month.

I'm not really sure of the merit of giving away my books for free. I read in some other writer's blog about how we indie authors pay for services to give our books away for free in order to find potentially new readers.

Is that a good strategy? I don't know. I don't think so. Not in the long run, at least. When I see how I treat the books that I download via free promos (basically forgetting their individual existence and not ever getting around to reading them), I don't think this is a good strategy for me to follow.

So anyhoo, after these two promotions, I'll focus on writing and publishing my works instead of announcing too many free promotions in a year.

taking workshops on the craft of writing

I'm an intuitive writer. I can't explain to you my process. Nor can I dissect another writer's process or plot and map how they followed a particular structure or didn't. All of that goes over my head and simply makes me worry that I'll never be able to get the hang of this writing thing.

Besides, every time I learn about a 'rule', I find a book that simply flouts all rules and still grasps my attention and interest.

Anyone trying to teach writing is essentially teaching how they have understood it. It need not necessarily be the way I understand or appreciate it.

Instead of trying to force-fit others' teachings into my brain, which simply seems to want to reject all of these, I think I'd learn a lot more if only I wrote a lot more.

worrying about making money from my writings

This is probably the most important one.

I was thinking back to the time when I got into writing, inspired by the writings of Neil Gaiman and Erin Morgenstern. Making money was never the objective. Just as how reading their tales touched something deep inside my soul, I too wanted to tell tales that would touch the hearts and souls of many readers.

I came to it from a spirit of service, of sharing. Of creating tales and delighting readers.

Money, fame, status ... those were hardly in the picture back then.

Somehow trying to chase that by looking at this writing journey as a business has been very difficult. It has come at the expense of joy and delight in writing. It has come at the expense of writing itself.

How many days have I lost to cursing this endeavour as a waste of time simply because it didn't show any promise of yielding riches in a timeframe that was convenient to me?!

Every time I turn around and ask KrA, "Is it alright if I never make money from my writing?", he gives me the same, steadfast answer. "Of course," he says with a wide, compassionate smile on his face.

So there ... I am indeed very lucky that we have been able to pare down our needs and simplify our life enough to make do with KrA's salary, giving me the freedom to write and publish.

Let me not ruin it by demanding it make me money or by imprisoning myself into some made-up rules of productivity and output.

One thing I'd do well to remember is that quote from the Bhagavad Gita: You are entitled to your actions, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your labour.

Just because I spend time and effort writing stories doesn't mean the world owes me a dime.

The act of writing is its own reward. That was true in the beginning. I've somehow strayed from this truth along the way. I'm now finding my way back to the only nugget of wisdom that matters.

So much in this industry is out of my control that I'm better off writing, publishing and investing a certain amount of time and effort to expand my audience without devaluing my work.

other things I've already let go of: social media and trying to submit short stories to magazines

Both are too time-consuming to justify the (lack of) results/rewards at this point in time.

I'm a hard worker, I know that. I also know that I will not work when D is at home; he's this young for only a certain number of years, and I don't wish to look back and feel that I spent all that time away from him.

When he's around, I love spending time with him and I feel so lucky that I am indeed able to do so. I cherish these slow, relaxed days, which do us both a world of good.

So here's to letting go of the above-mentioned un-necessities from my days and from my life. May this pave the path for more writing and more publishing and more family time, the only three things that matter to me.