How to return to writing after a break

Taking a break from writing is easy. Returning to writing afterwards is difficult. Like anything else that requires commitment, patience, and dedication, stepping away from writing can feel like sliding down some unseen totem pole (or up, since the best are at the bottom?).

How do you get back into it?

Easy.

Give yourself a break. A different kind of break.

If it’s only been a few weeks, or even a few months since you’ve started writing, you might not have forgotten much, if anything. But if it’s been months? Or even years? Then writing can seem like an impossible battle.

To start, you need to drop any judgement. Of course you’re writing will be rusty. THings will come across as wooden and lifeless. Scenes will lack the shine they previously had. Dialogue will seem like it’s been lifted straight from a 90’s sitcom. At least, this is how it’s been for me. The first thing I do is release all judgement. Sometimes I actually have to tell myself, out loud, there will be no judgement. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes I angrily delete entire pages, sometimes I rework a line over and over again before realizing it won’t fit. And sometimes it’s just laziness. I can’t think, can’t create, can’t put myself in my character’s shoes, so I just toss in something like, “And so the character leaves the store empty-handed, awkwardly waving at the cashier, hoping he isn’t accused of theft on his way out.” because it’s what happened to me earlier that day.

Think of an old car on a winter’s day, maybe a Ford Taurus from the late 90’s, and it doesn’t just start up. You have to wake up, go outside, start it up, go back inside to get dressed, throw on a pot of coffee, drink the coffee, use the bathroom, grab a jacket, then go back outside to where the trusty yet ancient Taurus is almost warm enough to drive. That’s how writing can be. Sometimes you just need to throw something down on a page and come back. Then add something else. Then another few words. Then maybe you go for a walk, maybe a drive, then you come back. I always find doing chores as a great way to turn my mind off to the writing. I find when it’s off, I think of new ideas and new ways to form sentences. When I have a new idea, I go rushing back to the computer, broom in hand.

Lastly, stress. Call me weak. Call me a no-good millennial. Or soft. Call me whatever the hell you want, but I find it nearly impossible to be creative while stressed. On a certain level, it’s physical. (Stop rolling your eyes, Dad.) Stress, on a physical level, is your body invoking the fight-or-flight response. And this is good. In most cases, it’s great. It gets stuff done. But it’s also destructive. Veins and arteries are literally shred by adrenaline passing through, the heart starts to fail, or skip beats. And when the body is stressed, it starts saying things like, “Digestion? You kidding? We don’t have energy for that. We don’t have energy to think, to sleep, to eat or digest, to breathe, and especially not to be creative. We need to move, and keep moving, and why are you stopping? I said move!” Whether we like it or not, we somehow came to the point in which we praise stress. Brag about it.

You got five hours of sleep? Bro, I got four.

You’re working a double today? Nah man, I’m hitting seventeen hours today. Making that money, know what I mean?

I once listened to a Q&A from an author talking about a book she had published, I think it was her fourth. In it, someone asked her about the work life and writing life balance.

The author told this person that when working on her first book she had a day job, two kids to raise on her own, and barely any time to write. And when she did write, it came out poorly. It was a giant, endless circle. Some time later, the man she had been seeing offered to cover the bills and rent for a bit if she wanted to focus on writing. So she did. She was able to finish her first novel in three months. Her second in less than a year. She chalked it up to being stress-free. Stress-free from everything.

I know it’s not possible to find a situation like that. But if you can find a way to remove stress, it will help immensely as you return to writing.

First look at Publisher Rocket for Self-Publishing

Also known as, Kindle Rocket!

Two things, before we get started. First, this is going to be one of three posts over the next few months where I look into this tool, and talk about its effectiveness as we see whether or not it works. Second, all links in this post will be affiliate. I will still mention it before or after posting the link, but I want to make it clear from the beginning for transparency sake.

Kindle Rocket, or Publisher Rocket, as it’s called now, is a tool for self-publishers to find keywords, categories, AMS keywords, and competition

In theory, it’s supposed to find the best keywords for your book, a category it’s going to make the biggest impact in, find the best keywords to use for AMS (Amazon Advertisements, Or Amazon Marketing Services), and tell you what your competition is for every keyword used.

Let’s break it down, piece by piece.

Keywords

To start this, I’d like to say, I quite like their keyword finder. Before, I was using Google Keywords (which you need to sign up for a Google Analytics account for) and it was not too accurate, since it gave you Google searches, not Amazon searches, but it worked better than nothing.

Publisher Rocket Keyword finder works pretty well, in my opinion. I thought I had some pretty good keywords picked out, as far as them being obscure enough to not have too many other book listed under them, but popular enough to be searched.

As we see here, one of my keywords, ‘Alchemy’ was a pretty bad keyword to use. It had a high number of competitors and few actual Amazon searches. (It gives you their own ‘Competitive Score’ which can be useful, or sometimes a little misleading.)

When I clicked ‘competition’ I found that people were either searching for actual books on alchemy, or ‘Business Alchemy.’

For ‘Nicolas Flamel’, the result was slightly better.

But when I checked the competition, I found the only book that used that keyword was a fantasy series. So, would you click my book when you’re looking for something that specific? Probably not.

That’s how it breaks down. It does take a lot of time, and there is quite a bit of trial and error, but it ultimately saved me time.

[I would avoid using keywords that are clearly indicative of something else, or another book’s title. Usually it will be someone searching something specific, so it’s a waste of a keyword for you.]

Category

Eh. This one feels a little lackluster. I would have liked to either see more in depth categories (as Amazon categories can get incredibly specific), or all of the secondary, and even tertiary, categories. I can’t seem to find ‘magical realism’ by itself under fiction, the only place Publisher Rockets lists it is under ‘Teen Fiction’ despite it existing on the Amazon Books and Kindle Bookstore page.

This doesn’t mean it’s useless. I just found that putting in the legwork on Amazon was easier. That being said, you can use it in conjunction with Publisher Rocket to find out how many books you need to sell to hit #1, which I do find useful. (Just having a few friends buy your books can actually help, in most cases. Or, giving away your book for free. Once the free period ends, the book usually maintains a similar rank in the ‘paid’ section.)

With this one, I would need to sell 4 books to hit #25, and 20 books to hit #1. The large number is the Amazon Book Rank.
Again, 4 books for #25, but 83 for #1.

Competition Analyzer

Here I searched ‘fee good’ and it will show you the ABSR (Amazon Book Sales Rank), daily sales, and monthly sales.

I won’t lie, I definitely thought this was the most useless of all functions before using it. However, especially in conjunction with the Keywords, I find it incredibly useful. It’s not just about finding which books use what keywords but also if those keywords are for that book specifically (as in, does the keyword you choose actually reflect the title of a popular book?). And, not to mention, how well is that book doing? Is it a highly specific book to that field, like Tao te Ching to Taoism, but it gains very few sales? Then maybe it’s best to use a different keyword.

I don’t know if there’s a way to do this without the program, and I do find this useful.

AMS Keywords

Again, I use ‘feel good’ and it basically gives me the Mad Libs list of words that are often matched with ‘feel good.’

This is the main reason I bought it. I wanted to kickstart my ads.

Currently, I’m not running any ads while I work on a better description. However, let’s take a look at this graph from the ad I was running with the help of Publisher Rocket.

I have a pretty decent click to impression ratio (for most people, it hovers around 1000-to-1 impressions to clicks. I’m closer to 500-to-1. Of course, the glaring problem is, no sales.

I don’t fully attribute this to Publisher Rocket. As we all know, there are a number of reasons that sales aren’t made. In this case (ignoring the cover art and name of the book) it’s probably the description. The little taster in the ad got them to click, but the description didn’t stick enough to make them want to buy it.

I’ll need more time to tinker with it, but so far Publisher Rocket lives up to its promise. It gets impressions and clicks by generating a list of ad words.

How does it work?

Simple, really. You type in something, anything, into the bar, and it will generate a number of AMS keywords for you to use, then allowing you to export it.

(On that note. In theory, you can export it as an excel file, and upload it to Amazon. I’ve seen it work on other peoples videos, but it doesn’t work for me. I have to upload it to Apache Open Office, and re-export it as a different file.)

One thing I would like to see is a way to combine the searches, or have a function where you can compile the results of a number of searches, eliminate the duplicates, and generate the file of what is leftover.

Although the generated ad words are usually very good, it will sometimes generate words based off physical products. This isn;t always bad. If you’re searching for a wand, you might want to read a fantasy book like Harry Potter. However, I wrote a short story with clouds in it, and I wasn’t looking to sell it to people who wanted ‘cloud coloring books.’

So it takes time to weed through the results in some cases, to find a list that you’re looking for.

I wrote this post because I recently bought Publisher Rocket and wanted to talk about it. If you want to check it out, click here, and I make a little money! An affiliate link!