Montly post of ISWG
If I'd have to choose one valuable lesson I've learned about writing, I'd pick planning my writing time.
Whether a beginning author or an old pro, there is so much to do. If you are an indie, you need to find time to learn not only writing skills, but also marketing, networking, social media… You may find an interesting course on any of these skills – or several. Also there are tons of wonderful books that teach you the writing and marketing skills. I know I must have bought two dozen of those last year. Still haven’t read all of them.
With all those things to do, suddenly you find you are stressed out when you have no time to do anything properly. Especially if you have a full time job (being at home taking care of your children counts as one too) and try to write in your few spare moments. When you notice your reaction to interruptions is depressed or even aggressive, you are in the danger zone. Joy has gone out of your writing.
On a side note: This brings to mind a little note I just read in Facebook: do you know what is a mombie? It is an overtired mother who tries to stay awake after the kids have gone to bed so she can have a little time for herself and her dreams. The picture was of a green-faced dead-tired woman with black circles around her eyes. Surprisingly many writers are mombies…
advice is that you take your calendar out at the end of every week and count
the hours you can dedicate to your writing next week.
Ear mark half of that time only for writing. And then divide the rest of the time between learning, marketing and networking. And most importantly: mark your plans into your calendar. This way you tell your subconscious you mean business. And when you work on these time slots, don’t have a “just a small peek” on whatever social media you are using. Just don’t. It so easily steals your valuable writing time.
I use little sticky notes I move around my calendar. They are colorful, and easy to move about if the plans change. (And they do, trust me). Once I have done what I have planned, I write it down on my calendar (so I can see later what I have been working on), throw away the sticky note (I use color codes so I can see with one glimpse what I have been working on should I look back in my calendar). And the ones I haven’t yet done I move forward until they are all done. And then I start a new round.
This system is especially helpful if you have a long project with lots to do. Make a little note of everything you need to do to get your project ready by a set date. And then place these tasks / sticky notes to the dates you think you have time to work on them. Much faster to move the sticky notes around than erasing and rewriting by hand on your calendar. (I’m using this now when I need to do 80 illustrations to a children’s book I wrote by the end of October.)
And don’t get discouraged because you cannot learn or do everything all at once. Heck – you probably never will. Admit this is the case and just use the time according to plan. Things do accumulate over time, and this means that your book will be finished one day, that you will learn the basics of marketing, that you will meet wonderful people and form a relationship with your readers. It just happens slowly.
Also, if your writing project does not need a deadline, you don't necessarily need to invent one. It is enough to plan time for it in your calendar and just keep at it, letting it get finished on its own time. This reduces your stress.
So there - that's the one valuable lesson I learned after I started writing and publishing books.
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