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!