From time to time, everyone should, needs, to evaluate or re-evaluate their life. It may simply be a matter of confirming they are where they want to be or it may be a matter of making decisions for altering the future. Whichever it is, to effectively identify their existing position, they will need to consider the various aspects of their life: Private; Public; Social; Work; Inner; etc.
Taking into account one of the two principle purposes of this website, this post has been written from the perspective of an indie (independent), self-publishing author. Nevertheless, at top level, what is shared will apply to the majority of readers, author or not.
Some may consider such evaluations are only relevant to older people but that is definitely not the case. A person’s life, no matter their age, inevitably changes: teenager to adult; school to employment; employment to employment; marriage; children; health; location; etc. Many will acknowledge it is only when faced with a dramatic occurrence they think about their lives. For example: Death of a relative or friend, when their own mortality is highlighted. Divorce, when the path envisioned for the years ahead is destroyed. Etc. But, if they are to make the most of what they have, they should be considering where they are more frequently.
In the evaluation/re-evaluation process there is one predominant question: What is Important? Some suggestions follow: as mentioned above this post has been prepared from the perspective of an indie author. Of course, this may only be a suggested list; each person is unique and has their own take upon what is relevant. The suggested areas: Writing; Publicity and Marketing; Social Media; Work (For those who have a regular job); Family/Relationships; Self. This and the following are in no particular order and there is no intended implication of relative importance.
An author by definition will be inclined to give priority to the writing of their manuscripts. Their books quickly become their ‘babies’, which they feel must receive best quality attention. But, in the long term; What are books really? In the majority of instances, they are simply for entertainment. Even if they write non-fiction such as self-help or text books, they need to acknowledge they are not the only authority for such manuals. Consider, what will happen when they are no longer around. Consequently, though precious to them, their books are not vital to life. A hard hitting truth for many.
Publicity and Marketing
Though these have differing aspects the eventual aim is the same: to attract purchasers. For indie, self-publishing authors, gaining attention is paramount to success. It is especially important now that hundreds of thousands of books are self-published each year. A lot of time consuming effort is required if an author is to gain the attention they would like. But: Is this important when compared to overall life? Many self-published authors will acknowledge the amount of time spent in these activities rarely has a dramatic impact. Sometimes just fifteen or twenty minutes a day will accomplish the same as an hour or three.
For authors, this is often just an extension to their publicity and marketing. However, it should comprise a little more. Many readers and fans like to have some knowledge of the person behind the book. To have some comprehension of their ‘favourite’ author’s likes, dislikes, processes, hobbies, etc. To develop some degree of relationship with them. In these technology driven days, it is an important aspect of an author’s profile. Nevertheless, though some people have short attention spans and will quickly forget someone unless they have frequent daily contact, the sincerer ‘true’ fans, will not forget if the author is not present every day. Every other day or even every third day is often acceptable.
The author may also have their own interests and may easily become distracted by the various, and often quality, information available through social media. Of course, this is useful for research and, if they are to maintain a balanced outlook, they should develop an interest outside their own field. But, in the overall scheme of life, social media is not important. Yes, it is wise, for their business (the publishing of books is, by default, a business) to maintain a presence but they should control how much time they spend on-line. Naturally, this also applies to those who simply enjoy ‘surfing the web’.
Many people do not come to authoring until retired. However, there are a reasonable number who have regular jobs. Authoring is in their blood and they must write or bust, as the saying goes. These utilize their evenings, days off and the little spare time they have between other matters, to write.
Employees may often be heard complaining about how much they dislike their jobs. How they long to leave it. Of course, there are some who enjoy their jobs but these tend to be a minority. However, no matter how they feel an employee really should provide the best service they can. Besides anything else they are being paid for their work and should respect that. They expect to receive a good service from those they have to deal with themselves and should reciprocate. In all things everyone should aim to produce the best they can. Work therefore demands some prioritising.
Spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. No matter the circumstance all these are important connections that should, as far as possible, be nurtured. Sadly, family breakdown is very common. Would this happen so much if due care and attention had been given? That is another question not the subject of this post. Nevertheless, everyone, not just authors, should acknowledge the need to give due time and attention to their families and relationships. To spend quality time with them and not just the dregs after exhausting themselves with other ‘interesting’ matters. Authors should ask themselves: What is more important; their books or their family? Who is the true treasure in their life? Their ‘baby’ if you like. Of course, for a true author, their books are important and they long to spend time with them. But, they need to ask what/who is their life really about? What/who is important in the overall plan/scheme?
Mental, emotional, physical. Regrettably, it must be acknowledged the majority of, if not all, individuals have a strong selfish aspect. Everyone has their own desires, goals, aims. Things they would like to achieve within their life span no matter who or what else may be incorporated within that same life. Authors want to write and publish their books. To leave them for future generations. To contribute to societies knowledge base. This can become an all-consuming desire that, if they do not take care, will override all other matters. Wrongly.
Naturally, if they are to be at their best for others, an individual should consider their own needs. Rest: ensure, as far as possible, they have sufficient. Fitness/Health: exercise, diet, etc. Emotions: It is part of human nature to face differing emotions. They are part of what makes a person who they are. Unfortunately, many suffer insecurities that, if not dealt with, may lead a person to place priority in the wrong area: no matter who they are everyone wants to be accepted and liked.
Self-interest needs to be governed. Of course, no one would want to abandon their hopes, aspirations and goals but this should not be at the cost of those who should be dear and near.
Everyone is different and consequently must decide for themselves what is important. What aspects should be given priority. Which matters should be valued above others.
Authors need to be aware the desire to achieve, to publish, to market may easily, but wrongly, become predominant in their thoughts and actions.
Each person should programme regular evaluation/re-evaluation moments into their life plan. It is easy to become detracted or wrongly motivated without these moments.
Throughout this post the temptation to state what should be considered paramount in life has intentionally been avoided. However, when the matter is boiled down to its basics, family/relationships must be considered important. It may help the reader to think back to how they felt about their experiences when growing up. How the way they were treated impacted upon them. To learn from those and to ensure they either follow the positive examples or ensure they do not repeat the mistakes.
In the end it is up to the individual. But, please, everyone should take time to regularly look at where they are putting their best time. To consider what really is of importance to them and those they care about. It may be hard to cut back on some aspects but in the end it will be worth the effort. They and theirs will be the richer for it. And, ultimately, by having sorted priorities, each aspect will undoubtedly benefit as they will be able to apply themselves whole heartedly to the matter in hand at the given time. Quality will undoubtedly follow as a consequence.