The publishingÂ business isÂ already enough to drive a writer crazy, so why should we make things even worse for ourselves?Â Â Here are someÂ sanity-sparing suggestions that I myself am trying to stick to:
STOP CHECKING YOUR AMAZON INDEX
Yep, that means you.Â Unless you’re checking the effectiveness of a particular promotional tool (in which case you may want to seeÂ how the index responds)Â you really shouldn’t be looking at yourself on Amazon at all.Â In particular, avoid looking at the reader reviews of your books.Â Some of those readers are nasty, vicious people, and why do you want to torture yourself by reading a lousy review of your latest book?Â Â Sure, you may find a really great review, and that’ll make you feel good … for about an hour.Â But a lousy review will leave you feeling miserable for a week.Â Â You wouldn’t volunteer to get your fingernails wrenched off with pliers, would you?Â So why let anonymous readers torture you on Amazon?
STOP GOOGLING YOURSELF
For the same reason I told you not to lookÂ up your own books on Amazon.Â Sure, maybe you’ll find a website that says nice things about you.Â But you might also find a site that calls you the spawn of Satan.Â So don’t even look.Â BecauseÂ ignorance truly is bliss.
LEARN TO SAY NO
Writers are often told to jump at every chance to promote ourselves.Â So we accept every invitation to speak at libraries, schools andÂ writers’ conferences.Â We’ll travel a thousand a miles, take three days off from our writing, to smile at a gathering and sell onlyÂ thirty books.Â When you’re starting off and still trying to establish your name, these are probably good investments of your time.Â But you have to learn when enough is enough.Â Don’t let the gigs take over your calendar.Â Don’t let them eat too deeplyÂ into your writing time.Â As Sue Grafton once said to me, “Don’t be a literary slut.”Â
Last autumn, I sprained my knee while hiking down a mountain.Â For two months I could barely walk, much less hike.Â Stuck at home, I got grumpy and flabby.Â Then winter set in, and the roads got icy,Â prolonging my inactivity.Â FinallyÂ I gotÂ fed up withÂ how listless I felt and made one of the best investments of my life: I bought a treadmill.Â It sits right here in my office and it’sÂ my new best friend.Â First thing in the morning, I turn on National Public Radio, climb onto the treadmill, and take a brisk uphill walkÂ for half an hour.Â When I’m done,Â IÂ feel pumped and ready to dive into my writing.Â And I can stop feeling guilty about my sedentary job.
CHASE OTHER INTERESTS
Indulge your hobbies.Â Feed your curiosity.Â Life isn’t just about meeting deadlines and seeing another one of your books on the stands; life is also about doing and learning cool stuff.Â We get about eight decades on this earth.Â That seems like a lot of time, but as I get older, I realize how precious little time that really is.Â Â Although I spend most of the year racing to meet my book deadlines, I’m alsoÂ learning how to read ancient Greek.Â I’m trying to read through my copy of Herodotus, whichÂ sits on my nightstand.Â I’m trying to memorize a Chopin Ballade on the piano.Â Probably none of these hobbies will end up being used in a book, but why does everything have to be about the writing?