After a period of distraction where I changed my living arrangements by moving in with an old friend (male), revised and re-published older works, and, oh, turned eighty years old, I find that, as a writer, I must start all over again to do an original start-from-scratch story.

I didn’t realize that it would be so difficult. I paced the floor, slept fitfully, got two colds in a row, and began to read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Nothing helped until I reverted to an old technique of mine: brainstorming.

The brainstorming sheet that got me going again. It's simple enough to not overwhelm me with the details that I know are behind every scribble. I'll deal with the details as I address each entry.
The brainstorming sheet that got me going again. It’s simple enough to not overwhelm me with the details that I know are behind every scribble. I’ll deal with the details later.

My way of brainstorming is to take a blank sheet of paper and write down things that I have been neglecting, things that I know I must do, and also those things that I want to do. I list some potential story ideas, add current and potential marketing/promotion ideas, and whisper to myself: “career-career-career.”

I scribbled words every which way on the paper so that they didn’t interfere with each other in terms of sequence, because this was not the place to worry about that. Down in the lower left corner I drew a box around “One at a time” to remind myself not to get confused and overwhelmed by doing too many things at once.

Since I had been lying awake at night concerned about my poor financial records, I picked that one first, and took a look at Quicken. About a year ago I had set up my accounts in Quicken and tried to make it as automatic as possible, linking it to various venders and accounts hoping that it would work by itself. Now, a year later, I find that it’s a mess. Since my live-in companion at eighty-four years of age has a long professional history in technology and investing and numbers etc., I asked him sweetly, if he would mind taking a look at it. He did, and came back with, “This is the basis for a LONG discussion.”  I crossed Financial Reports off the brainstorm sheet and moved on for now.

Next, I tackled “Blog.” It’s been seven months since I last wrote on this blog. Seven months!!! It was an unconscionable neglect of my writing career-career-career! So I am writing this post and will publish it before I get up from this chair. Then I can have the joy of crossing it off the brainstorm list.

Will I write another blog entry soon? Yes. How do I know? Because my mantra “career-career-career” is driving me crazy. It has planted itself somewhere in my brain and isn’t turning itself off. It’s giving me nervous energy. I must write the next story, and I even know what it will be.

I worry a bit that my stories are too dark. My son, the psychologist, tells me that it’s because I’m Norwegian American. “We’re all that way,” he says. “It’s what makes us unique.”

Really?

So, off to the pencil and paper now. I shall be back soon.

In the meantime, I’d like to hear how you got back into writing after a period of neglecting it. Are you still enthusiastic? Or was it just too demanding? Let me know. Let’s help each other. Leave a comment here or on my Facebook or Twitter page. Thanks so much.

RZH

4 thoughts on “Starting Again as a Writer

  1. Hi RZ:
    I stumbled onto you while looking for a publicist and read your 2014 post about the nastier side of book promotions, which then led me to your other posts. I’m 60 and just had my first contemporary romance published by Kensington (writing isn’t my first career, obviously). I’m a true introvert and I’m struggling with all the typical social media avenues for book promotion, and I’m thinking I need help but your posts are really thought-provoking. My pub doesn’t do much promoting of debut authors–I feel like it’s either sink or swim (and I’m probably sinking). But after reading your post I’m now wondering what’s the best direction. I’m inspired that you’re 80 and still coherent! Thanks for your thoughts.

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    1. Thanks for writing Maggie. Book promotion and marketing are very difficult, and is a study in how-to-do-it in and of itself. What you have going for you is that the genre Romance is the most-read category right now, and lots of readers enjoy it. Take an objective look at your story and try to determine what jumps out at you that might be a little different from all the rest of the Romance books. Ask yourself what do readers want to FEEL that your story can fulfill in giving them that feeling. Combine that with a short summary of the story-line without giving away the ending, and publicize it on all social media outlets, among friends, family, and acquaintances, and check into the paid resources such as Netgalley.com and IBPA-online.org. Ask Kensington if they have any resources or suggestions for you; they might. We are on our own in building a platform as an author, as most publishers only promote books and authors that they are sure will become bestsellers, thereby enhancing their own bottom line. Marketing your own book takes lots of work and dedication, but you CAN do it. I wish you the best.

      I had to laugh that you’re inspired by my coherence at age 80. I live in a retirement home with people in their 70s, 80s, 90s, and over 100. A close friend just passed away after his 102nd birthday and he was as sharp as you and me. There are a LOT of inspiring people here who have lived interesting lives and who are keeping their minds sharp. You can too. Just take care of your physical health, do lots of interesting and stimulating activities, and keep on writing.

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  2. Welcome back to blogging. It is definitely a lot of work but so worthwhile. I started recently and I had never even been on facebook, so it was a big change for me. I like your brainstorming idea. I write lists. The problem is, they are in different notebooks all over the house! Organized, I am not.

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    1. Thanks for writing. I struggle always with organization even though I am a pretty good organizer. My biggest problem is that I always see a “better” way, so I change things constantly.

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