Monday, July 10, 2017

A Year of Learning – Donna Alward

This year has been a year of learning.

I’m one of those people who loved it when a new school year started. The smell of fresh paper and pens…new textbooks, trying to make my handwriting neat as I organized my class notes. These days my learning is less structured, and very different, but at the end of the day I feel energized, like I’ve expanded my brain somehow. There’s a sense of accomplishment with learning that sometimes isn’t quantifiable in data or dollars and cents (but hopefully, since most of my learning is about my business, it does translate a little!).

I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction books, which have helped me understand myself, my working process, and publishing better. Since January I’ve read Show Your Work by Austin Kleon, Approval Junkie by Faith Salie, Deep Work by Cal Newport, and Become a Fearless Writer by Nina Harrington. The six months before that I read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott, and The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield.

Then there are the blogs and articles that I read each week – usually sent to me by my “inner circle” – Barb Wallace, Susan Meier, and Selena Blake. And let’s not forget the podcasts. Driving back and forth to my daughter’s university so she could come home for holidays meant a four hour drive by myself, usually listening to The Art of Charm sessions.

All of those things make me think and evaluate and focus my mind on my objectives, as well as understand why I think and work the way I do.

A lot of my learning has been “as I go”, too. Authors are small business owners as well as creators, and we can’t always afford to outsource. When I started writing I knew nothing about blogging, designing a website, running newsletters, social media wasn’t the giant it is now, and I certainly couldn’t design graphics. I’ve done all those things now, and I had to learn on my own. A lot was trial and error, and I get a lot of help from other authors, because that’s what we do. I do all that AND write books. There’s a reason why indie authors are confident: they’ve shown themselves that they can learn and self-start and be successful at it, all the while keeping a bigger royalty percentage. Romance authors have a certain level of confidence and versatility, and when it’s paired with the generosity inherent in the romance fiction industry, it really makes us empowered.

But there is always more to learn, and new challenges to be met. This year I’ve served as the RWA PAN Steering Committee Chair and the committee has worked to put together a really dynamic program. It was incredibly enlightening to work with members of the workshop committee as well as RWA staff to book speakers and find topics that provide high value to our members, whether they’ve published their first book or their hundredth. There were a few moments of frustration, lots of moments of excitement, and in the end, I feel like I learned a lot and understand much better what goes into planning an event of this size.

In a few weeks it’ll all be over for another year, but man, am I looking forward to sitting in on those sessions and figuring out ways to take my business to the next level.

New release: The Playboy Prince and the Nanny, SMP Swerve, August 1 


1penns07 said...

It's exciting, isn't it! It's been fun for me to read the books and blogs chosen by our little group. But more than that, it's been tremendously fulfilling to set and achieve goals.

You've had a big year!


Donna Alward said...

Susan, our group has been a constant source of knowledge and inspiration. It's so cool to be really excited about my career again.