I’m thrilled to have Kristen Lamb, our October cruise speaker and author marketing Jedi, visit with us today! She’s talking about one of my favorite things: REST and why REST is so so so so important to a creative’s life. Take it away, Kristen!
by Kristen Lamb
Rest is crucial, yet is often undervalued, mocked and even punished in modern culture. Regardless of profession, the evidence is undeniable that our brains need a break. Taking time off and—GASP—even having fun pays off in major ways. If you’re too busy to take time off? Then odds are you need more rest.
I am truly honored to be presenting for the Cruising Writers’ Retreat…and part of me is freaking out because I’ve always had a tough time resting and having fun.
This is likely why I was an early bloomer and got Shingles when I was forty. Hey, I am a work in progress, too. Yet, having been someone who’s hit the WALL (more than once, since I’m a Type A overachiever), I thought I’d take time to address the chronically busy.
Many of us see an ad for a writing retreat, let alone one on a CRUISE and recoil. Oh, the cost, and the time and I have so much to DO! You just don’t get it. Such a frivolity, I can’t…
*hangs head between knees*
Yes, you can. I can. This is not a frivolity, it’s an investment. Here is why.
Burnout is real. Burnout is that expanse beyond stress. When we are stressed we still believe we can ‘get things under control.’ We still believe we can win at this game of Life Whack-A-Mole and ADD IN Publishing Whack-A-Mole! #Genius #OrNot
Burnout happens for a number of reasons.
Maybe we haven’t learned how to set effective boundaries. Instead of us being in charge of our day, everyone else wants a piece of our time. We free up an hour here, then almost immediately fill it with some new activity. Our internal resources (energy, passion, and will) steadily become stretched beyond capacity until…SNAP.
We are, in effect, red-lining our engine. Like a car, it IS possible to push into and past the red line…but only for so long. Anything pushed for long periods of time beyond designed capacities will eventually fail.
An engine burns up. Humans burn OUT.
Without proper rest, we tip past that often invisible line into a dangerous area. Unlike being in a state of stress where we still care, we still believe if we just worked harder, and where we still have hope, burnout is a dead zone. This is a place of apathy.
Stress impacts our body and mind, but burnout is a malaise of the soul.
This is when we become despondent, angry, hopeless, and see no point to what we’re doing. As authors, it’s easy to get to this point (where most give up). We often still have to work a day job, take care of family responsibilities, tend general ‘adulting.’ Some of us might be in the role of caregiver for elderly or ill parents.
When we finish ALL THIS…then we write.
Not only do we need to write, but there’s social media, branding, platform, newsletters, marketing, algorithms, guest posts, and promotion and pretty soon we fly off Hell’s Hamster Wheel and CRASH.
Change Your Space
It seems so simple. Rest more. Deep down we KNOW we’re being foolish by never letting up on the gas pedal. Can’t we just learn to invoke the NO? Why do we promise to set boundaries, only to one day wake up with nothing left?
All we can think about is running away from home…but that would take too much energy. Energy we don’t have. Besides, we would have to leave our blanket fort.
The reason this happens is we lose perspective. We get so caught in the routine of life that, when small tasks keep piling on, we don’t notice the additional heat.
It’s like the slow-boiling frog sitting there as the temperature notches up ever so slowly. We don’t even realize anything is amiss, that we need to JUMP. Because this heat is building incrementally, we’re utterly unaware we’re being boiled alive.
Changing location does wonders for combatting burnout. It obviously can give us the much-needed rest. Additionally, once we step out of the everyday, we gain perspective.
A fresh vantage point offers us renewed clarity on exactly how much garbage is crammed into our day. What can GO? Which tasks can be delegated? Why are we leaving our writing for last (if there is any time left)?
Also, changing location allows the brain time to take all the data it has collected (television, books, ideas, conversations, dreams) and make these loose connections come TOGETHER. This is the time that novel might all come together. It might be the place where we finally SEE what we’ve been doing wrong all along!
Some of the greatest revelations in history happened during a BREAK. Newton’s sudden epiphany about gravity occurred while out on a leisurely walk, NOT when he was in his study cramming more notes and math into his brain.
Now, it didn’t ALL come to him on that walk. The information was in his head. It took getting away for his brain to be able to SHOW him the final BIG PICTURE.
Broaden Your World
Again, a retreat like this is an investment in YOU and your art and your future. It’s ensuring your imagination’s proper development.
As an analogy, what have we learned about working the same muscles over and over? Eventually, one ends up with what is known as a ‘repetitive work injury.’ Maybe the same repeated motion tears out a rotator cuff or we develop carpal tunnel or crippling tendonitis.
In short, the same over and over can serve up some debilitating consequences. We need to rest certain muscle groups.
When at the gym we don’t use only one machine, work only one muscle group. If we do, we’re asking for a lot of pain in the future. The ideal goal for optimal fitness is to cross-train. We want to challenge our body in different ways, on different planes, from different angles, right? We also need days off. Rest days where the body can recuperate.
The same goes for our imagination and mind. If we’ve only ever experienced one sort of life, our ability to empathize, to get into the heads of other characters, to be able to describe other landscapes, etc. can only develop to a certain level (eventually it will become stunted).
Sure, we can use books and movies to help, much like I can use a machine to mimic climbing a mountain.
But is the mountain climbing machine the same as going and climbing an actual mountain? On the machine, it is all safe and controlled and only challenges a limited range of what I can do.
On a mountain, I must contend with altitude, wind, weather, terrain that might suddenly be GONE (landslide) and be able to keep pressing. That and climbing a REAL mountain comes with great stories, experiences, pictures, and actual bragging rights.
Imagination and creativity are the same. YES, please read. I can always tell writers who not only don’t read the genre they want to sell books in, but can really spot those who don’t read at ALL. But second-hand experience only develops our minds so much. Virtual can only go so far.
Networking (Yeah, Get Out More)
One of the greatest advantages we can gain from a conference, a retreat or even a writing cruise retreat is that we will make friends and connections in person. Also, these connections are of a different caliber (bear with me). Anyone can hop on-line for free and claim they take their writing careers seriously. Maybe they do.
I know we all start somewhere. When I started writing, I’d lost everything and had to live with my disabled mother. We were broke, eating Ramen and praying the lights wouldn’t be shut off.
But at least we had each other 🙂 …
Anyway, joining a local writing critique group was my first step in networking. I put skin in the game. It cost me $35 a year and time (attendance). Eventually, though, I plateaued. I kept getting rejected and had no idea how to fix my novel. Books only taught so much.
It wasn’t until I scraped up enough money for my first writing conference that I experienced my first GIANT leap ahead.
The reason was because a) the conference had experts I had no in-person access to otherwise and b) fellow attendees took their futures seriously enough to put out money and invest in success. This weeded out a lot of the hobbyists I’d been surrounded by for years.
Hobbyists could barely be bothered to attend a meeting for a critique group that cost less than $6 a month. Not everyone in the group was dead broke like I was. They simply didn’t take their writing seriously enough to sacrifice financially to make it to the next level.
I know some folks do face the financial challenge, but others can find money for everyone else’s dream but are too scared or too guilty to do the same for their own. I’ve been both. I’m crazy generous with those I care about but spend money on myself? Are you crazy?
And that is how I ended up burned out, hiding in a blanket fort.
Enjoy Returns on Rest
Maybe y’all have heard of ROI (Return on Investment). This is about RoR (Return on Rest). By attending a conference, I got away, had fun, made friends, broadened my world and recharged. Yet, this ‘vacation’ was far more than the mental, emotional and professional recharge I needed.
I made connections with TRUE professionals (NYT & USA Today best-selling authors, NYC literary agents, NYC editors, publicists, experts) who showed me how ‘publishing’ really worked. They shortened my learning curve by pointing me to better resources and also demolishing a lot of my ‘fantasies.’
That part kinda sucked, but operating from truth is better than being stuck in a delusion.
I could recalibrate my expectations (I.e. I was not going to land an agent and a three book million-dollar deal with my first query letter). Sorry if I just bummed any of y’all out. Bummed me out for sure.
What is Your TIME Worth?
For those who join us in October, I promise to shorten your learning curve by a decade. How much is ten years of ineffectiveness going to cost? Count the cost of building a brand or platform the wrong way and having to tear down and or start over? It happens.
There is a LOT of misinformation about what a brand and platform IS and how and where to build one. I make all this terrifying stuff fun, simple and effective. You guys are writers, not high-pressure salespeople and mega-marketers and I have ZERO interest in training you how to be one.
Namely, because that crap doesn’t work.
My blog gets 1.1 million hits a month, 350,000 unique visits, and I have over 50,000 dedicated subscribers (suffice to say maybe I know a little). I’ve never automated, never used a newsletter, and pretty much only have time for some Facebook. Ads, gimmicks, and high-pressure promotional campaigns didn’t build this number. Common sense and FUN built it.
Technology changes. People don’t. Don’t believe me? Read Shakespeare. Go look up your ex on Facebook.
There, proved my point.
Thus, all the money you might be tempted to throw into gimmicky nonsense that won’t work (or at least not for long)? Use that moolah for the cruise!
Oh, and I’m also teaching craft because the best way to make money (write full-time) is to have multiple books for sale. CRAZY TALK! I KNOW! Seriously, I’ll teach you how to write books leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner, regardless of your process (plotter, pantser, plotser, sacrificing marshmallow peeps under a blood moon while Mercury is in retrograde).
And as you can see from the video evidence? I am VERY, VERY serious and a consummate….’professional.’
THANKS for Having Me!
Thanks Cruising Writers for the invite to present and to post. I am super excited and my parole officer has even cleared me for travel. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! If you guys are curious to know more about me…believe nothing the FBI tells you. Go to my blog instead 😀 .
And, if you want to get started on some of the branding social media stuff now, you can check out my book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World . I’ve also just released my debut mystery-suspense The Devil’s Dance, which is only further proof I watch Dateline and quote B-movies far more than is socially acceptable.
So sign up for the cruise! We can hang out, ask the staff how many bodies can fit in the dessert cooler and how long until anyone would notice the smell…then learn what a cruise ship BRIG looks like!
On second thought, the pool looks nice.
Regardless, it will be AWESOME!