When You Can’t Get Traction…

Actual video of me trying to write for clients and edit my book and promote my fiction:


Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I mean, the client work basically gets finished. It’s when I try to add the other stuff…

And then add in life… You know… Talk to family, shop for groceries, clean my house, take care of pets, exercise, eat, shower, sleep…

Remember when I used to think that if I could just get rid of AHG, I’d have time to write?

I was younger, then, and full of hope.


Not so much hope.

I have many things to say this week, starting with…

This is Not the Blog I Started

I sat down to blog last night, and what came out was 1200 words of writer angst about writing, life balance, and what I want from my overall writing career. I wrote it, edited it, even scheduled it. It was ready to go until about five minutes before publication when I put it back in draft mode.

Because I realized… no one needs another 1200 words of my writer angst.

And also… There is nothing in that post that I can’t summarize and deal with in a less whiny way.

So here’s the synopsis.

I have a lot of commercial writing work right now, and I love it. I really do. I have one long-term contract and lots of little piecemeal things to keep me busy, and I’m having a great year with that side of my career.

But… That’s not what I want to do forever.

For better or for worse, I want to support myself writing fiction. And if I’m going to support myself writing fiction, I have to actually WRITE the fiction. And then I have to publish it. And THEN I have to (gulp) promote it, which I hate with the white hot passion of 1,000 suns. But the whole thing is a package deal, so there it is.

For now, I am doing the commercial writing and marketing work because 1) it pays for all the things I need for the fiction side, like editing and design and websites and such, and 2) it pays for things like my daughter’s tuition and home improvement projects on our 111-year-old house. Also, the good yarn isn’t cheap.

Yes, eventually the goal is to quit commercial writing and only do fiction, but I’m far, far away from that right now. I am fully aware of the conundrum here–doing the commercial work means less time to do the fiction, but also, you’d likely never see the fiction if it weren’t for the money to make it pretty. So I need both.

The problem is, as always, balance.

Revisiting January 2020

Remember January 2020? Otherwise known as “BC”–“Before COVID”?

We were all younger, then, and full of hope.

And then… March.

But back in January 2020, I wrote about my three-year health anniversary and the micro-choices that ultimately led to success.

Where am I a year-and-three-quarters later?

Well, in Idaho, for one thing. Also, I’m facing 18 or more months of bad diet and exercise choices. And after the lull of commercial writing work in early 2020, everything has exploded for me, and now I am much closer to where I want to be with my income.

But in that amount of time, I have not made any significant progress on The Taurin Chronicles or building my audience or making the move to writing fiction full-time.

I could give you a thousand reasons why I have not made progress, and they would all have some degree of truth to them.

It’s true that the circumstances of 2020 were not good for my creativity, and that being stuck at home with teens who were struggling with online school and their own frustrations and griefs was not conducive to writing and editing.

It’s also true that our major move took up a huge chunk of my mental, emotional, and physical energy for most of this year so far.

And it’s true that commercial work has taken the top spot on the priority list, and that’s probably okay since that’s the current business model.


It’s also true that I have not made the right micro-choices to enable my fiction writing, and that part has to change.


Back when I first started trying to get healthy, back in January 2017, my goal was just to not feel so sad. I was coming out of the worst year of my life, and grief and sadness had an absolute chokehold on my soul and spirit. Someone had even advised me to consider anti-depressants, and while I have no objection to those, for me, I suspected that if I could just start taking control of my life again, maybe I could start to climb out of the pit of sadness.

My original micro-choices were very tiny. I had five things I wanted to do every day–just five:

  1. Exercise
  2. Shower
  3. Eat breakfast
  4. Take supplements
  5. Read my Bible

I will be honest: showering and eating breakfast were my “gimmes.” Those were two things that I was 99.9% sure I could do every day. And since I didn’t want to shower till I exercised, that made it easier to convince myself to get the exercise in. And if I got three things checked off, I could surely manage to do two more, right?

Now? These habits are basically so entrenched that they’re all “gimmes.” Sure, I have fallen off the wagon with exercise a bit, and the supplements I take have changed, but at this point, missing a day or two of any of these doesn’t tend to set me on the path to giving them up entirely like it would have in the past.

So really, back in 2017, eating breakfast and showering were my micro-micro-choices. These were the things that were so easy to do that it was impossible to imagine not doing them.

How does this apply to writing fiction?

I think I need some micro-micro-choices to get me back in the habit of working on fiction.

I have not decided what those are yet.

So… since I’m at over 1,000 words right now, and since I’m a little flummoxed about how to get “unstuck” and find the tiny things that will get me back on track, I’ll ask you, my loyal threes of fans:

What are the micro-micro-choices that would help you get unstuck in an area where you weren’t making progress?

If you’re a writer, I want to know what you do or think you can do every day to stay on track with your work. If you’re not a writer–what are some micro-micro-choices that have helped you get “unstuck” in some area that was important to you? Comment below, please!

I’m anxious to hear what works for all of you, and I am genuinely open to suggestions. I’m going to be thinking about this and trying a few things this week, too. I’ll let you know next week what my five micro-choices are.

I have to say… this is a much more proactive, much less whiny than the 1200-word angst post I had scheduled this morning.

Better to light a candle than curse the darkness, amiright?


2 thoughts on “When You Can’t Get Traction…”

  1. I like this perspective, Amy! But I’m afraid I’ve been trying to figure out micro choices for writing since I married and started having kids. ;P
    What about a micro choice of opening your Taurin project on your computer (maybe before checking email/social media)? You wouldn’t necessarily have to write anything, it would just be towards building a habit of checking in with your story before a lot of the daily distractions without the weight of having to write right then and there if there’s other things more pressing. Something along those lines?
    I really don’t know about micro choices on the promotion side, social media is dreadful.

    I don’t know where you are at with a Sunday or Sabbath rest but maybe contemplate something along those lines too? Making sure that you have at least one day that is focused on what fills and restores and rejuvenates you.

    Lots of love and grace to you!

    1. I think that’s an excellent micro-choice, Leanna. I need things that I’m 100% guaranteed to do that don’t require a lot of effort, just to rebuild the habit.

      It is REALLY hard to make room for writing when there is family in the mix. It’s easier now that I only have one kid left at home, but now I have the husband and pets to balance… And random calls from other kids, and aging parents, and all the other things… There’s always stuff to work around.

      As for a rest day–I used to be pretty good about that, but this past year has made it tough. I should get back to that…

      Thank you for the comment! Much love and grace to you as well!

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