When you’re an indie author, time is literally money. The faster you can produce new books, the faster you can see the money start to come in. No one makes a living off of one book, right?

When you’re a writer mom, however, time is hard to come by. You might not be able to finish more than a book or two a year. So either you start to accept that it will simply take longer to reach your financial goals, or you figure out ways to write faster with the limited time you have (plotting, cowriting, dictation, etc.)

They say you get better with every book. The more you write and publish, the better you’ll get, right? Yet another reason to learn how to maximize your time to write more.

But even if you have found a way to write a million words a year, should everything you write be published?

This week I realized that in my rush to writer faster, finish faster and then publish everything I write, I am missing out on opportunities for growth and learning.

I love writing short stories and novellas. I set out with the goal of tackling each one with a different angle, in order to practice different kinds of writing. I still publish them, despite knowing this is not the fastest way to make money as an indie author. I should be focusing on writing within a series or at least within one genre, to get things started. But I figure anything I publish is also another chance to practice: cover, editing, launch.

Recently I wrote a very short story and submitted it to a contest for the first time (and lost). When I joined a new critique group last month, I decided to see what they thought of it. I asked them how I might polish it up in order to submit to other contests or to journals, since I really love the story.

When I got some helpful feedback from the group, and suggestions on how to possibly turn it into a longer story, it suddenly hit me. Why was I so eager for it to “do” something for me? You write to get it out there and do something for you, either money or to practice launch strategies or reputation from contests/journals. As an indie author mom, I didn’t want to “waste” these words I’d spent precious hours writing and editing.

But maybe this story doesn’t have to go out into the world in order to do something for me. Within the small circle of the critique group, it can help me learn and grow. I can play with it, lengthen it, try out a few new things.

I don’t have to share it with the world for it to be useful. It doesn’t have to bring in any money or attention for it to help me.

Taking the time to learn is something writer moms don’t feel like they have. Growth is what you help your kids do, right? As a grownup, all the growth should be done by now.

I can tell that writing things and not wanting to hit the “publish” button will continue to be a struggle. But it feels good to try. Maybe it was the new critique group that helped me realize this. By interacting with others who aren’t laser focused on their Amazon ranking or who don’t have their next 12 months of writing and publishing scheduled out, I am able to grow and learn in new ways. I am able to let stories just be stories, not sources of revenue or status.

It was scary to share my work with new people. But I think it was one of the best choices I’ve made in my writer journey this summer, better than releasing another book. In the long run, writing more and publishing less may actually be the right choice for me.

Have you had any learning or growth happen this week?

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