Write the Thing!

How do we actually find the time to write the thing when so many other things need our attention???

So, this year was a big year for me. I published my first book as an indie author! It was a step I’d wanted to take since 2012, but the journey twisted and turned before leading me back here, 7 years later.

But now that I’m published, I have so many ideas…and so much work to do as a published author. I have to write new things. I have to promote old and new things. And since my eventual (hopefully within the next year) goal is to find representation from a literary agent for some of my other work, I also have to polish and query other entire novels.

It doesn’t leave as much time for writing.

I know people tell us as writers over and over that audience and platform are important. And they are incredibly important. But it is even more important to write the things so your audience/platform has the thing to read! Without a product, what do you have to give them? More about the same stuff you’ve already shared? Sure, there will be new readers. There will also be readers waiting for your next release.

But while the expectations and work has increased, my amount of time has not. I still have my day job, I still have my personal responsibilities, and I still have my relationships, all of which are important to my life.

So how do I balance the time I have? How do I get writing done…while still doing the business-y things I have to do? And all of that on top of a full-time job in an unrelated field, a family, and friends?

Here’s how I do it (though keep in mind that I’m still figuring things out…I’ve got plenty to learn!):

  1. Prioritize some kind of writing as often as possible. For me, I used to try to write every day. But that doesn’t work when I’m mostly editing, so I have to approach it more from amount of time than word count. I don’t make myself write every day (I can’t), but I do try to make sure I’m working on creating new material or polishing upcoming material more than half the days of the week and catch up when I have larger chunks of time available. For now, that works.
  2. Set realistic goals. It helps to concretely set a goal. While I’m drafting, I want to draft 1000 new words per day. When I’m editing, I try to get in a chapter of editing (or more) every time I sit down. By giving myself clear goals on what I expect, and making sure those goals are achievable, I’m setting myself up to make progress on my projects and bolster my enthusiasm and self esteem.
  3. Make sacrifices. Yes, unfortunately you can’t do it all! I may have to give up time to play games or relax in front of the TV in order to reach a goal or deadline. I may have to say no to more things (such as client work or anthologies I’d like to be involved in). You need to make sacrifices so you have time for the things that are most important to you (for me, my relationships are top, then my writing).
  4. Set aside recharge time. You can’t write with an empty well. It’s that simple. So if things are burning you out, make sure you take the time you need to refill those wells. Recently, I felt burned out from all the mental work I’d been doing for writing and editing since January. I didn’t do anything like that for a week. Instead, I did some other creative work, like watercolors and mapmaking, that were more helpful to recharge me than doing nothing at all. They used a different part of my brain that was refreshing and relaxing (and I may have also made something that relates to my WIP, Sea of Broken Glass). Find the things that will refresh you and give you back enthusiasm.
  5. Schedule your marketing/social media/etc. Once again, you can’t do it all. And these little details of living the author life (being active online or working on the business side) can be draining and can suck away your time before you know it. So, I find that for me, it’s best if I set my plans for how I will approach my social media. Instead of sitting around all day on Twitter or Facebook, I intentionally set how much time I will spend and how much I will post. I post on Facebook once or twice per day (Monday through Friday only). I post a few times on Twitter per day, but not every day. I create one new blog post every week (and sometimes more ahead of time so I can take weeks off). And I set aside specific days or times for marketing or working on the business that are separate from my actual writing time. Right now, this works for me.
  6. If you can, multitask! For me, I tend to write in front of the TV in the evenings (but if it’s during the day or I’m not home, I tend to write more without distractions at all). I know a lot of people say not to do this, but I find it easier to live my life if I am also doing things while I write. Sometimes this lets me catch up on shows while making (admittedly slower) progress. Sometimes this is when I’m spending time watching TV with my husband or sitting together in the same room. And sometimes, it’s the distraction I need to keep from freaking out about all the business stuff I am still trying to understand. I get stressed out really easily by finances and business, so having something to distract my attention a little helps me.
  7. Be willing to make changes. Finally, you need to understand that what works now may not work forever. As my life and goals and career change, I will need to adjust how I approach my personal writing goals, scheduled time, and relaxation time. I may also need to change what I’m sacrificing. Try not to be so set in your habits that you can’t alter them to better fit your life as it develops. We’re supposed to change. Our plans should, too. 🙂

So that’s what I’m currently doing so that I can write the thing! I’m still trying to get everything to work, and right now, my biggest issue is that I have so many active projects I need to actually finish some! But I’m also lucky in that everything I’m currently working on I am absolutely 100% in love with.

And that’s a good feeling.

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Are you juggling many things on top of your writing? How do you make it work? What things do you struggle with the most? Tell me your tips, and let’s talk about it in the comments!

ARC Etiquette 101

Whether you are a writer or a reader, you may have heard about these books called ARCs. ARCs are, quite simply, Advanced Reader Copies or Advanced Review Copies. But just what are they?

Whether you are a writer or a reader, you may have heard about these books called ARCs. ARCs are, quite simply, Advanced Reader Copies or Advanced Review Copies. But just what are they? These are books the publisher or author provides free of charge to reviewers and influencers prior to publication in order to spread knowledge of the book and gain some early reviews to encourage sales.

However, what may not be clear to both writers and readers is the etiquette surrounding the distribution and use of ARCs. I’m just learning some of this myself, so today I only want to focus on some basics. If you have anything to add, I encourage you wholeheartedly to leave a comment below. I’d love to have more material for a future post!

But until then, here we go. ARC Etiquette 101.

Reader Etiquette and Responsibilities

Hey readers! Interested in reading a book ahead of publication? This section is for you! Now, there’s plenty of information on requesting ARCs out there… but that’s a post for another day. Today, let’s focus in on what to do with an ARC you have received.

When you receive an ARC, it may be either a physical book or an eARC. Many indie authors choose to send eARCs to readers for a number of reasons. But no matter the format, there are a few simple guidelines to remember:

  • The author is not asking you to edit, proofread, or comment. This is often impolite, as most of the time the book has already been through this process extensively. You haven’t been hired to edit, and it can be offensive to send criticisms back to the person who gave you this free book. You may, however, ask if the author is open to proofing or criticism. If you are tactful and kind about it, they may say yes.
  • Don’t sell your ARC. They are not intended for sale, and the author is providing it to you as a courtesy.
  • It’s expected that you will review the book, but it isn’t required. It is polite to do so, particularly either before the book releases (like on Goodreads) or on or near the release day (like on Amazon).
  • Your review doesn’t have to be positive. It just has to be honest. But again, keep those comments of your thoughts on the book to your reviews… don’t send them to the author. That can just kind of be mean, particularly if you didn’t like the book. And some authors choose not to read reviews for very good reasons.
  • You must disclose you received a copy of the book for a review. Often, this can be as simple as leaving a line at the end (or beginning) of your review stating, “I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review,” or something similar.

Author Etiquette and Responsibilities

Just like readers, authors have responsibilities for the use of ARCs. Here are a few general guidelines.

  • ARCs are provided free of charge… don’t try to sell them. And don’t try to make reviewers pay for postage.
  • You may not require a review in exchange for an ARC. You can request an honest review, but it cannot be a rule that the reader must follow to get the book.
  • Don’t assume you will only send eARCs. Yes, physical books are more expensive, but some reviewers will require it.
  • Avoid commenting on your reviews. It’s best not to engage with them. I’ve seen far too many authors go off the deep end after reading negative reviews of their books. You may not even want to read your reviews.
  • Consider any comments you receive from reviewers. They may find typos you missed or a plot hole. Remember, ARCs go out before publication… while there is time to fix mistakes. But also, try to ignore the inconsiderate comments you may get from reviewers. Not all of them are nice.
  • Choose carefully. Find reviewers who are likely to read your book or have agreed to do so… and to review it. Don’t pick a reviewer outside your book’s genre or who has a schedule too busy to meet your timeline. Remember, physical copies can be expensive to send out, so you want them to make as much of an impact as possible.

Final Thoughts

As I’m approaching the release of my first independent novel, I am starting to consider how to best go about marketing, including the use of ARCs. So far, this is the information I have obtained on the etiquette and guidelines for readers and writers, but there is plenty more to learn and do. I look forward to sharing another post on ARCs as I gather more information! Until then, happy writing, and happy reading!

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Do you have experience with ARCs, as either a writer or a reader? What advice or inside tips do you have to share? Let me know in the comments!