Knowing When to Take a Break

After much consideration, I’m announcing an indefinite hiatus on my writing career. Let me explain . . .

I’ve been in the self-publishing business for a little over three years. My first book – Flesh and Stone – came out in January 2016. At the time, my decision to jump into the indie world resulted from getting nowhere with traditional publishing. I had a few nibbles here and there, but nothing came from them. Going the indie route seemed like moving forward while not giving up on my writing goals.

Since 2016, I’ve started three series and contributed to an anthology. I’ve gained a wonderful following of loyal fans and attended a number of signings. I’ve been nominated for awards and have spoken at a writing conference. The past three years have been amazing, and I don’t want anyone to think my decision to take a break comes from sour grapes over not being a bestselling author or not winning awards or not being able to quit my day job and write full time.

My problem is, somewhere in the last year, I lost my love of writing. Some of it is personal, way too personal for me to share on my website. Some of it is my day job, which has become quite stressful. Some of it is the publishing industry itself. Even when I’m able to sort of deal with all of this, the effort required to do so takes a heavy toll.

All of that stress from the three facets of my life – personal, professional, and publishing – has combined to nearly obliterate the joy I get from writing. I haven’t done any serious writing in at least five months, and it tears me up inside. I feel guilty and depressed because I’m not writing, which sucks up my energy, which leaves me with no desire to write, which makes me feel guilty and depressed. See the vicious circle?

I’ve been thinking about my situation a lot lately, and have come to two conclusions:

  • First, I’m blessed to have the time and resources to make my mental health a priority.
  • Second, I need to take a break from my writing career.

Coming to that second conclusion was so hard. It felt like giving up. Admitting defeat. Worst of all, it felt like letting people down. But in the end, I have to take care of myself first. If I fall apart, I can’t be the person I need to be. I certainly can’t be the person I want to be. I had to finally give myself permission to rest. To put down my self-imposed burdens. Words can’t describe how freeing that feels. I wish I’d done it sooner.

Being an author is really three or four full-time jobs, and that’s in addition to my day job and my roles as wife and mother. Stress and depression have made me unable to do what needs to be done. I’m spreading myself thin, like butter scraped over too much bread, as Bilbo said. As a result, my family, day job, writing career, and mental health, aren’t getting the attention they require. I have to step back where I can so I can step up to where I’m needed.

What does this all mean? I’m going to finish my three current series – the Whitewood Journals, the Earthborn Series, and the Dark and Bright Series – and then I have no plans to publish anything else in the near future. I refuse to put a deadline on concluding the three series, but I’d like to finish writing them by the end of the year at latest, which means they might not be published until 2020.

I’ll still attend a few signings each year, mostly local, but my focus will be on simply writing for fun. I have another series in the works, but I’m not going to pressure myself to finish or even publish it. I just want to write for the love of it. I’ll still be online. I’ll probably be on Wattpad a lot more, posting things for fun and feedback. And of course, I’m not withdrawing from the writing world entirely. This isn’t good-bye. This is see ya around, if maybe a little less often.

Much love,

P.M. Hernandez

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