On Writing,  publishing

The Normal Nature of Being Behind in This New World

I Love Being Behind…

In indie publishing, what I hear over and over from indie writers everywhere is that they are behind. Always behind.

A simple reason for this. There is too much we all want to do, need to do, feel we MUST do.

And we have to have it done YESTERDAY.

I am no exception to this. I always have more things that need to be done than I can cram into a single day. Always.

And I honestly am coming to love that.

Am I Nuts?

I have strong memories of the alternate road. There were times in traditional publishing I didn’t have enough to do and many times I had no projects under contract, no stories needing to be written, nothing.

I love being overwhelmed and busy a ton more, because to me that means things are happening.

In this new world of publishing, I am learning my new yearly patterns. I tend to not do much writing in the dead of winter months. I have no idea why. Haven’t figured that out yet, but now for three years I have gone into the spring of a new year behind on my Smith’s Monthly Magazine. 

This year is no different. But I am excited this year to get to the writing soon, to really get powering on both short fiction and novels. So the feeling of being behind isn’t worrying me, but instead pushing me to make the writing a focus.

So Being Behind Pushes Me

I have developed some methods of dealing with the overwhelming feeling of being behind. A method of getting more focussed.

— I make lists and prioritize the list. What is important, what can wait a little longer or not get done at all. Heck, it took me a year to get around to doing a newsletter and then it got messed up. (grin) That was clearly down my list.

— I trim the list of things that really aren’t important. To me, what is important is Kris first, writing second, keeping the business going third, learning fourth. I need to bring exercise onto that list again shortly and will be doing that and putting it right above learning in the 4th position. At my age I have no choice there if I want to stay full of energy every day. Notice sales and promotion don’t seem to hit the top of the list. They are down a ways.

— In each major area of my list I make a sub-list. So for writing I make lists of things that need to be done. For example, I have joined onto a short story challenge and want to play, so I want to do that every week. And I have some novels that need to be finished and then new ones written to get Smith’s Monthly back on track once again. No idea what I am going to write, just that I want to write.

— I try to set start dates and goals inside each small area and each task on the sub list. Sometimes I talk about these here, most times I do not.  I tend to do a lot of this on note pads and such and never show them to anyone.


Most of my friends are far more organized than I am around this topic, but I tend to get a lot of books done through all the chaos of my system.  All these smaller goals and dates are flexible. I have no problem with switching things around as needed.

Some friends use spread sheets, Kris uses calendars, others have journals. Whatever works for them works. My list system works for me.

But the key is I have a system and being behind pushes me into the system even more than when things are smooth and I am “caught up” whatever that means these days.

So I like the feeling of being behind when I step back and look at it. I like the feeling of working and exercising and feeling tired at the end of the day because I got a lot of things done.

So this is a speech to myself here to help my attitude coming out of the winter.

I’m behind and that’s fun and will make me get more writing and other fun things done.

I am behind because I am successful and I have a lot of things to do. And that’s just cool.

It really is an attitude thing.


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  • J.M. Ney-Grimm

    It really is an attitude thing.

    I completely agree. Like every other indie, I am also behind. But I don;t regard it as an indication of a problem. I’m not behind because I loll around all day doing little. I don’t do much lolling, because I find it boring. Writing, drawing, and formatting books for POD is a heck of a lot more fun. I’m behind because I have so many stories I want to write, so much cool and fun stuff stuff that I am putting into the appendices of WIP, and because I continue to up my game in learning publishing skills. It’s true that a few life rolls got in the way lately and slowed me down, but everyone has those from time to time.

    • dwsmith

      Agree, life rolls really can stop the movement, but with the right attitude in this indie world, we can just pick back up when ready unlike a real world job that forces us into things we might not want or be able to do. Back to Mark’s point about the freedom.

  • Mark

    As an indie, I too love being busy. But at the same time I love the freedom to do what I want, when I want. I can’t thank you and Kris enough for all that you do.

  • Harvey

    Would like to know more about your current short story challenge if/when you’re ready to divulge. I’ve been looking for something to get me back into writing shorts, but with a (past) streak of 73 weeks, I can’t seem to find a good motivation. I seem to have settled into novels for the moment.

    • dwsmith

      Just a prompt things from a bunch of other writers over a list, Nothing special but great fun. However, past that I am going to be doing another short story challenge that you might enjoy and want to play in. I’ll announce it here as the dust settles going into April. But I also need to do novels. Ah, the fun.

  • Vera Soroka

    I’m having a better year keeping to task but I still have a long ways to go. This back list that I wanted to have had out last year is starting to see the light of day. I just keep plugging along and I did set a goal for June to have this back list out and I think I can do it.
    My guys graduate in June and then a new schedule will come into place. See how that goes plus gardening season is soon starting up. I have to try and work around this so that it doesn’t take time away from the writing. This will be my new challenge.

    • Victoria Goddard

      I’m there with you, Vera! My back list (such as it is) is slowly coming out; I managed to get one up on Instafreebie for a promotion this month, which was exciting. But I too am looking forward to gardening season with a mixture of great excitement and some dread. Spring makes me want to write and garden–and this year I’m going to be gardening semi-professionally (at farmers’ market level; I’ve also done gardening [planning, planting, weeding] as a job). At the moment I’m just trying to finish some projects and get them published so that I can putter along on my next novel(s) over the summer when I know I’ll be busier with my other work.

  • Martin

    I’ve only got 8 paperbacks in this indie world, and I feel the sameway. I already know the book I will write next after the current book that I am on.

    Glad to know someone as experienced as you feels this way as well.

  • Dale T. Phillips

    Yes! Behind is great, because we have so many projects and works to put out. I’m finishing novel #6, have 5 antho stories to do, 4 non-fiction short books, then another planned novel, and I’d like to start a second mystery series. These are great problems to have, and wouldn’t trade them, especially when I hear the trad folk complaining about deadlines. And of course your pulp speed makes us all look like slackers!

  • Grace Bridges

    Wow. What a different – and wonderful – way to see it! I have been constantly behind for nine years and always felt guilty about it, getting worse and worse. Started fostering cats two years ago and hey, I’m more behind than ever! But I’m behind because of things that are important to me. No guilt about the novels and stories in the can. No guilt about the ex-feral cats who need me and who go on to be much loved in new homes. No guilt about time spent reading. This will take some realigning of thought processes for sure, but I can see it is necessary. And yes…there is always a long list of things to be written! Thank you for this insight.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Grace, and thanks for the great work you do with cats who need the help. I just got to brush our indoor feral cat tonight for the first time in the year we have been working on him. He wasn’t sure what that was all about, but I managed a full minute which I think is up there in miracle status. (grin)