Going Down in Flames by Jana Richards


We are fast approaching the end of 2022, which means we’re getting close to a shiny New Year. Many of us, including me, get excited about setting goals and resolutions for the new year ahead. But are we always realistic about these goals?

For years I’ve made resolutions/goals for the upcoming year. I make goals around how many books I want to write and when I’ll complete them. I make goals around the marketing of the books.

Sometimes I reach these goals but more often I don’t. For example, I think setting up a Pinterest page has been one of my goals for the past five years, maybe longer. Still hasn’t happened.

At the start of 2022 I was determined to put my past failures behind me. I set an ambitious production schedule for writing and publishing, along with an even more ambitious schedule for marketing. I was going to do it all. I was going to get stuff done.

For the first few months of the year, things went well. I felt motivated. I got things done. One of my major goals of the year was to write a prequel to one of my self-published series that I could use as a lead magnet or gift for readers who sign up for my newsletter. I worked diligently on this novella. I had my critique partners look at it, and I also had my editor friend give it the once over. 

When the manuscript was finally ready, there was a list of things that still needed to be done. I had to create a cover. I had to create front matter and back matter. I had to format it and turn it into an ebook. I had to upload it to Book Funnel so new subscribers would automatically receive it, but before that could happen, I had to update the information and instructions inside the workings of my newsletter. And while I was at it, I might as well create a new onboarding sequence for new subscribers to my newsletter. Yikes!

Long story short, writing a new novella to give away turned out to be a lot of work. And while I was working on this, I was also finalizing edits for a book with my publisher and trying to set up promotions and marketing materials for its release.

My second big goal of the year was to rewrite and republish book two of a two book self-published series and turn it from a sensuous romance with fully described sex scenes, to a sweet romance. The first book in the series is already a sweet romance so I wanted book two to match. (Don’t ask me why I didn’t write it that way in the first place. It was a marketing decision gone wrong.)

So while my new lead magnet was with my editor, I dove into rewrites. But turning a sexy book into a sweet book wasn’t quite as easy as I had imagined. It wasn’t a simple matter of eliminating sex scenes. The tone of the book had to change. It took me longer than I’d imagined, but I completed rewrites and sent the manuscript to my critique partners.

And while I was waiting for their opinion on my rewrites, I began a new writing project. I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas story. There was plenty of time to get it written and self-published for Christmas 2022. I booked my editor for August 1 and was confident the manuscript would be finished by then.

I was totally wrong.

My downward spiral began when I got an email from Ingram Spark saying that they were waving the fee to download up to five print books into their system for the month of March 2022.  That’s a significant savings, so I decided to take advantage. Getting into Ingram Spark has been a marketing goal for some time.

Bad decision. Trying to get my three-book series into Ingram Spark nearly broke me. It took way more time than I had expected, probably because I was learning as I went. I had to put everything else aside because there was a time limit on this offer. (Fortunately, they extended the offer into April or it wouldn’t have happened.)

I did manage to finish the upload to Ingram Spark, and I completed the writing and set up for my new lead magnet. I also launched the new book with my publisher and did some promo for it. But then I came to a crashing halt. I got to the point where I could not write another word on my Christmas story. I had to tell my editor I was not going to be able to deliver it to her on August 1. It’s the first time I’ve ever missed a deadline and I didn’t feel good about it. And the rewrites on my sexy to sweet story? My critique partners did their job, but their thoughts on the story simply sat on my hard drive, unread, for months.

I had to take some time off from writing and I had to stop pushing myself. My endless to-do list had to be abandoned. I was teetering on the edge of burnout and if I wasn’t careful I wouldn’t find my way back to writing.

So I stopped. Eventually, when the desire returned, I got back to my Christmas story and completed it. But when my brother died in October, I again came to a crashing halt. It was a very difficult time, and still is. But after taking another break to mourn and reflect, I’ve been able to write again. I’m not sure I would have been able to if I hadn’t taken a much longer break in the summer to recuperate.  

Life goes on. I finally sent my Christmas story to my editor. I started going through my critique partners’ critiques on my sexy to sweet story. Oh, and my daughter gave birth to our first grandchild, a girl named Aubrey Catherine. Her birth has given me renewed optimism and hope.

What I learned is that setting too many goals doesn’t work for me. It simply burns me out and dilutes my focus. Mileage may differ for other writers, but I’ve learned I have to give myself some grace, forgiveness and time.

So this New Year when I make goals for 2023, they will be more modest. I’m going to concentrate on one thing at a time and give myself some rest in between. I want to avoid burnout at all costs, and I want to be prepared, at least as much as it’s possible, for when life throws a curveball that smacks me between the eyes.

Do you set goals and resolutions for the New Year? How do they work for you?


  1. Oh, Jana, what a year you've had! While I say I am busier in retirement than I've ever been, it's not strictly true. Because I'm slower, I'm kinder to myself, and I'm a lot more accepting of...not failure, exactly, but of not yet. Wishing you a 2023 of Not Yet!

    1. Thanks Liz. I like that: Not Yet. We don't have to do everything today, or ever.

  2. I love your candid review of your year, Jana. I know it resonates deeply with me, and I'm sure with many of your readers who are also writers. It's easy to get burned out. I know I did with Kensington. Actually, you got a lot done. But give yourself that gift of catching your breath and doing so guilt free. You have definitely earned it. Here's to a wonderful - and productive - year ahead.

  3. Thanks Janie. I really didn't think I would get burned out. But it's definitely a real thing. I appreciate the support!


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