These days writing comes with hours of “business” related nonsense. I’m watching one of my Critique Group working on her book release, and I am exhausted. Social Media, Blog Tours, Facebook Parties, etc. Not only do you have to do these activities and to get your book seen, but you need to figure out when you will get the most bang for your buck.
Besides writing the next bestseller, you have to become your best advocate. The purpose behind all this nonsense is sales. We all want sales. It’s how we want to make a living. So many people dream of staying home and writing.
Being home writing means you will have to be pretty disciplined. No matter the circumstances, you need to be consistently writing. Everyone has an ebb and flow to their creativity. I’ve tracked my words per month for several years. I am always struggling in the summer. I know I need to give myself baby goals once the bright sun draws everyone outside.
Are you keeping strict office hours? How do you account for the time you dedicate to your career? Are you happy with how things are?
Some of the famous New York Times bestsellers like Nora Roberts or Stephen King have both remarks they keep a work schedule. Nora used to say she did 8 hours a day in her office. Period. Stephen King writes every day. He breaks it up into two parts. Morning and afternoon. If the writing hasn’t been productive, he will have to work longer in the afternoon. He focuses on his output more than the time used to accomplish his goal. (if you haven’t read On Writing by Stephen King, stop and go get it. Excellent.)
Down here in the trenches, I can say I have seen authors with all kinds of approaches to keeping their writing on track. I know a couple of writers who rotate days. Maybe Monday and Wednesday are dedicated to the business of writing. I.E., returning emails, posting blog posts, interacting with social media, creating new campaigns and such. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday they try to write with minimal distractions. Another author shared they have a word count goal for before lunch. If they get their pages completed, they will attack the business end of things. In the afternoon, it's a repeat.
The thing all of these approaches have in common is story comes before anything else. All stop. Your book is your product. If there is no output, there will be no input of cash.
More story means you will meet goals to send work to critique groups, beta readers, self-publish or for submission. You need to have goal posts for when you expect to have work completed to meet your production calendar. If you know you want to submit to Contest A six weeks from now, you will probably want your critique group to read some of the material before sending it off to strangers. So, you'll make an earlier date to have the pages ready to send the group and have the responses back to correct before you send it to the contest. Knowing your needs, helps you adjust your output.
Keep track of when you write and how much you write per session. I’ve found I write better at night when everyone in the house is asleep. I use a word count goal versus an hourly gate. You might find if you come home after work and write it’s a slog. Shake things up and try to write on your lunch break or before you go to work. Pinpoint when you get the most out of yourself.
As an author, you need to be as efficient as possible. Keeping your writing and business sides separate may help you deal with the distractions of emails, social media and articles and such.
Like everything else, keeping office hours may help structure your career into being ultra-streamlined. If you know you only have two hours five times a week to write, balance your time so you can get to the meat of your job. Writing! Writing! Writing! Yes, all of us need to find ways to connect with readers, but the ultimate connection come from your story.
How to you break up your writing hats? Let me know in the comments below. I love hearing from you.