One of my favorite parts of this job is the many opportunities to see writers speak (in addition to reading their books). I see them at writerly events, like conferences and teaching. And then also at reader-centric events, where people get to meet authors, buy their books, and meet other readers. Some of these may be very formal, while others are known to be a wild and crazy time (RWA anyone?).
I don’t know if it’s due to social media, or that books are just more popular, but it seems I hear about some fantastic events happening every day of the week. Some I can attend, along with others aren’t nearby geographically. This is the figurative book party that never ends, and I want to experience all of it. Who wouldn’t?
The reality is that it’s physically impossible to be everywhere, that inevitably one will miss out on some fun bookish events. The reason we participate in publishing (no matter what one’s role is) is the final product, which requires time away from the crowd. If you are the wordsmith, it’s going to be difficult to meet deadlines if every book event is attended. If you are the reader, editor, or agent, there’s the need to focus on our authors and their books; this means stepping back too.
How does one find a happy balance? In order to support one’s local and national writing communities, it’s important to leave the figurative desk, engage with others, and provide support (and high fives) along the way. By supporting fellow writers, this means attending their book readings, as this helps grow their reach – and yours too. It helps one realize they’re not alone in this writerly life. That this collective energy we call publishing can be a large support system if all the pieces come together correctly.
So try to take a more proactive approach, by setting aside time for yourself. Block it off on your calendar; whether it’s for a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks (if necessary). Ensure that when you see those events on your social media timeline that you honor the time you’ve set aside. Your book needs you, which means that unfortunately you’ll be missing some outings. Also take the time for some self-care, so that you and your writing will get the much needed break it deserves.
All I suggest is that you don’t check out permanently. It’s a hard balancing act, as one navigates publishing and engaging with fellow writers. But at least setting those boundaries can help more than you’ll ever imagine. I personally can’t attend a book event every day of any week, as my work will never get done. But attending one reading, two at most, a week is manageable. I get to see book people (that I adore), there’s a screen time break, and I always walk away inspired afterwards.
The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) has happened to the best of us, but in the end your book and your writing will benefit from some restraint.
Dawn Michelle Frederick is the owner and literary agent of Red Sofa Literary, established in 2008. Red Sofa Literary is a celebration of the quirky, eclectic ideas in our publishing community. Dawn’s previous experience reflects a broad knowledge of the book business, with over a decade of experience as a bookseller in the independent, chain, and specialty stores, an editor for a YA publisher, and an associate literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency. Dawn earned a BS in Human Ecology and a MS in Library & Information Sciences from an ALA-accredited institution. She is also one of the founders of the MN Publishing Tweet Up, which brings writers and publishers together over a monthly happy hour. Red Sofa Literary was voted as one of the Best 101 Websites by Writer’s Digest in 2012 and 2013.