July 15th, 2019

The How & When of Decision Making

Christina Delay

Authors are in a frequent state of change. In today’s world, we must flow and shift and sometimes do some fancy footwork as the season demands.

Flow. Shift. Dancing. That sounds a lot like change. Change is scary. Don’t worry, stick with me. We’ll get through this together.

How do we know if the change we’re making is the right change? Or if it’s the right time for a change? How about the how of making a decision we can be certain of?

My kids are still young, so we watch a lot of Daniel Tiger. One of the biggest things the show impresses on children is if something is scary or if they don’t understand or are unsure of something, they should talk about it.

We’re not children. But we still deal with scary unknowns and uncertain outcomes.

So let’s talk about it.

An Author’s Fancy Footwork

What kind of things can authors expect to change, not over the course of their career, but perhaps over the course of first draft to polished manuscript? 

Oh boy. 

Where to start, where to start. 

*takes a deep breath*

  • Editor Wish Lists
  • Agent Wish Lists
  • Reader Tastes
  • Genre Trends
  • Marketing Tactics
  • Facebook Algorithms
  • Amazon Algorithms
  • Writing Styles
  • Taboo Topics
  • Social Media Platforms
  • Popular Hashtags
  • The Disappearance of Hashtags
  • Self/Indie Publishing
  • Traditional Publishing
  • New York Publishing
  • Small Press Options
  • Cover Trends
  • Audiobooks
  • Big Box Store Closures
  • International Data Collection Laws
  • Copyright Laws
  • Policy Changes by Vendors (Mailchimp, Facebook, etc)
  • Not to mention a personal life...

*big exhale*

I’d keep going, but I couldn’t hold my breath any longer. And a lot of what I just covered are big topics within which live a myriad of changes and decisions to make. It would take a year to explore each variable and by the time we were done, it’d all be out of date. Such is the publishing world we live in.

With all that going on, how are we supposed to know what the correct dance steps are? 

Decisions, Decisions

It can be really hard, not just to make the right decision, but to be certain of your path after you’ve made your decision.

Recently, I made a couple of tough decisions. One of the biggest is taking Cruising Writers on an extended vacation break after this year’s November cruise. Cruising Writers will be back in a couple of years, once my patooties are a little more self-sufficient :). But if you want to cruise with us anytime soon—this year is the year.

Another tough decision I’ve made is to go hybrid. My pen name, Kris Faryn, indie publishes supernatural suspense and fantasy. 

Both of these decisions took place over a long period of time, but the following is ultimately what helped me make those decisions. Perhaps some of these ideas will help you gain comfort around scary decisions that lead to change.

Meditation

Meditation is a great way to shut off that noisy logic jabber-jaw voice in your head and instead, listen to the quieter voice of your heart. Start your meditation time with a question you want answered, and let your subconscious do the rest. Will you have an answer by the end? Maybe. Or maybe just a stronger push in a certain direction.

Pros and Cons Tables

For the more analytical of us, a pro/con list can be a great way to let the logic jabber-jaw voice have its way for a bit. The more unbiased you can get in your approach to this exercise, the better chance you’ll have of looking at your situation with a realistic perspective.

An Honest Look At Goals

It’s easy to get distracted by the newest shiny thing or idea. But where is your drive? Why do you do the things you do? Why do you write? Why do you want to be published? What kind of career do you honestly want for yourself? And is this next decision, this next change, going to move you toward that goal or away from that goal?

On my to-do list, I often write (in big letters—purple pen) “To What End.” It helps me manage my list and judge the worthiness of the tasks I add to it so I can always be working toward my end goal.

Envisioning the Different Paths

Another meditative practice, but one fiction writers are exceptionally good at—daydreaming. That’s right. You have permission to daydream. But do it with focus. Imagine the result of each of the choices before you. Which is most aligned with your goal? Which do you want most?

Shift and Flow

Maybe for you, these decisions involve whether to get an agent. Or get a different agent. Knowing when your book is ready to publish or be sent out. Deciding to self-publish or go traditional. Contacting a critique group for the first time. All of these choices and decisions require dancing the complex footsteps of the publishing landscape.

It’s scary. Change always is. We’re hard-wired to fear change.

But that doesn’t make change a bad thing.

“Things may change and, that’s okay! Today we can do things a different way.” ~Daniel Tiger

 

About Christina Delay

Christina Delay is the hostess of Cruising Writers, as well as an award-winning author of Young Adult Fantasy and Adult Suspense. She may also have a new series out under a pen name. When she's not cruising the Caribbean, she's dreaming up new writing retreats to take talented authors on or giving into the demands of imaginary people to tell their stories.

About Cruising Writers

Cruising Writers brings writers together with bestselling authors, an agent, and a world-renowned writing craft instructor writing retreats around the world. Cruise with us to the Bahamas this Novemberwith Alexandra Sokoloff of the internationally-renowned Screenwriting Tricks for Fiction Authors, Kerry Anne King - Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author, and Michelle Grajkowski of 3 Seas Literary.

10 responses to “The How & When of Decision Making”

  1. Laura Drake says:

    Christina, you are so right. Especially since, sometimes, you won't be able to assess whether the decision was a good one for years after you make it. My major decision-making strategy after doing all the above? I think of the WORST possible outcome. If I determine I can survive that, I go ahead and do it.

    You're right about one more thing: Change is scary!

  2. Julie Glover says:

    Okay, this: On my to-do list, I often write (in big letters—purple pen) “To What End.”

    How long have I known you, Christina, and you never shared that brilliant tidbit with me? Okay, you probably did and I forgot. Lol. But still, BRILLIANT! Thank you.

  3. dholcomb1 says:

    Look at that, you're cruising on my birthday.

    Writing has so many facets.

    denise

  4. Thanks for the thoughtful post, Kris. Lots of good ideas here!

  5. Fae Rowen says:

    Meditation. What a stress lowering activity. I used to embrace change a lot easier, but some things definitely get harder with age. Thanks for that list to show me I'm lucky. I don't have to deal with all those things, just a few!

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