authors / business / writers / writing

How Do Authors Have Time to do All This?

I’m an organized person. There’s a file clerk inside me that loves to come out and play in the field of my life. I make lists, schedule

busy

Photo credit: Public domain pictures

blocks of time, fret when anything interrupts my work.

But lately, I find myself overwhelmed. Sure, I have a day job–most authors I know do. We work for eight to ten hours, then spend time with our mss evenings and weekends. Some authors (not me) squeeze writing in before work. Me, I need a block of time at least an hour long to get my mind into the characters and story so I can figure out where it’s going.

Here’s my schedule:

  • Work 6:45-4:15
  • Clean my email box 4:15-5. That includes comments on my blogs, friend requests, tweets, Goodreads announcements, book sales from my outlets. This is all reactive–nothing proactive to move my new story forward or market the books I’ve  written
  • Dinner! I only eat two meals a day, so dinner is exciting. Of course, I multitask by watching the news (usually depressing) or reading in my genre (a thriller).
  • Write 6-9. This starts with my daily/weekly blog posts (about 12 a week), my weekly column on technology for a Ning, my thrice weekly columns on tech and the military for an online newspaper, and my bi-weekly column for a friend’s writing blog. I also have to do a nominal amount of interaction on my Twitter accounts (one on writing, one on tech and one on USNA), Facebook, Scribd, and Goodreads. Then, I get to work on my book.

That last bullet point is where the problem has developed. My conference two weeks ago convinced me I have to reach out more, develop a larger fan base of readers and followers. I write for the joy of writing, to share with others, but if I’m writing in a vacuum how will anyone know my words are out there? Since my publisher doesn’t market my books, it’s up to me.

I doubled sales this past year, but they are still not enough to live on without the Real Job, so my goal is to double them again, free up those eight hours spent at work for writing.

Often, it takes me the entirety of the three evening hours to do my social networking. I have to respond to requests, chat with people I’m developing online friendships with, seek out kindred spirits. Sometimes, I get to peak at my novel, wordsmith part of a chapter, lose myself in the world I’ve created. Usually, my clerk side raises its ugly head–stick to the schedule. Be disciplined! Only in that way can I achieve my goals.

I started another overarching marketing project: I purchased my URL. If you haven’t done that, I recommend you do. I’ve been planning to for quite a while, checked to be sure jacquimurray.com was still available several times. Two weeks ago when I decided to pull the trigger, no more jacquimurray.com. A State Farm agent grabbed it. I now am the proud owner of jacquimurray.net. Go ahead–click the link. You can check on my progress. I haven’t touched it since I started. I plan to collect all my personas there, in one spot. Remember my clerk side. I’m getting confused with the too-many locations of my disparate parts. I need one place where I am whole. Even if it gets no traffic, it’ll make me feel calmer, more pulled-together.

Well, I’ve run out of time. I had planned to update you on my limping progress with my thriller. That’ll have to be rescheduled for the next post.

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13 thoughts on “How Do Authors Have Time to do All This?

  1. I’m there with you about too much to go into such a small amount of time Jacqui! In a way it is great that things have taken off for me as well but you just don’t get more time & energy to go with the lift off! Looking forward to hearing about the book!

    • That’s the truth isn’t it? It seems more worth it when you see the success, but even before, it must be done. One must pay their dues. How long did it take you before it started paying off?

  2. Finding the time to actually write the books I’m supposed to be writing and ultimately selling is my biggest challenge too, Jacqui. And what I’ve discovered lately is that some things on my calendar/to-do list simply have to go.

    When I was finishing Separation of Faith, and again when I was deeply immersed in the editing process, I just took a deep breath and dared to clear my schedule of a lot of activities that I’d somehow made myself believe were central to the continuance of life. Outside of my family and work commitments, everything else was put on hold until the book was finished.

    Someday, if this Journey leads to the miracle of someone actually paying me an advance to write, the writing/passion will happily occupy the time slot now consumed with “work commitments.” But until that glorious day arrives, the only way for me to complete a book is to actually give myself several hours per day to write. What a concept!

    Since Separation of Faith was released, an inordinate amount of time (dozens of hours per week) has been devoted to book promotion. And there are a number of events on my calendar through June that I can’t (and don’t want to) change, several of which will require travel. But aside from those events and a few other isolated situations, I’ve made the decision to pull back from the promotion for a few months and devote that time instead to the writing of my next book (a nonfiction project that will take a lot less time and effort than my next novel).

    This was not an easy decision because I’ve seen what happens to my numbers when I don’t prime the pump every single day. But this Journey and the Dream require that I add several more books to the mix, and so I finally had to face reality and re-prioritize.

    For the past six months, I’ve been promoting this novel at warp speed, and there will be increasing buzz generated as contest results continue coming in and as I follow through with my book club commitments and the huge three-day event in Kettle Falls, WA in June. Some small impact from those activities will hopefully be self-sustaining and regenerative through the summer.

    But even if the momentum comes to a complete stop, I simply have to finish the next (nonfiction) book and get a good start on novel #3. In order to do that, I first have to start saying “no,” and then I have to eliminate (temporarily) a number of the other things I’ve talked myself into believing are mandatory.

    So, to answer your headline question about how authors (of the non-celebrity ilk such as most of us real folks with real-people lives) have time to do all of this, the trick is identifying what we mean by “all of this.” For me, I’m realizing that the specifics of “all of this” change, depending on the section of the Journey’s yellow brick road being traveled at the moment. And the current milepost requires a return to writing for awhile. Consequently, unless I’m suddenly cloned, or unless my fairy godmother grants me a free assistant, a bunch of other stuff has to be postponed or eliminated altogether.

    Tough choices, Jacqui, especially with an incredible schedule like the one you outlined in this post. But just like the importance of fresh unbiased eyes editing our work, I think we periodically need that same fresh unbiased perspective applied to our calendars and what we’re trying to cram into each day. Self-made superwomen need to become aware of the elements making them vulnerable to their own forms of Kryptonite. In addition to fatigue, those elements usually include the crazy notion that a thousand things can be tackled at once, on a daily basis, sustained over a long time, without any negative consequences to mind and body.

    Just a little food for thought to consider, in your spare time. :-)

    Hugs,
    Cheri

  3. You have a whole blog post there, Cheri. You have to add all the contests you (successfully) entered, too, beyond the other items I did. I’m spending a lot more time than I used to on Scribd with the community there. I’ve found some good writers with great ideas.

    One more social networking spot. OK, back to work. Thanks for your thoughts as always.

  4. Jacqui, you are one busy writer! It is so very hard to keep it all in balance! As a stay-at-home mom of four little ones, I have an incredibly hit and miss writing schedule, but your schedule is inspiring indeed.

    • Four babies! OMG. I had two and they just about did me in. I’d call you inspiring. Maybe there’s an Erma Brombeck inside you. Thanks for dropping by!

    • Yes, although I wish I’d get top work on it. Right now, I’m getting report cards done so I can’t even write! How are you, Anna? I think you’re outside the tsunami scare. California’s right in it’s path but I’m inland.

  5. you are much more disciplined than i! i’m impressed! if you can manage to eat dinner in between 5 and 6, you are already hours ahead of me (when do you cook it???) this is the main issue i’m dealing with right now–how to balance work and…work. the second ‘work’ being ‘that which i love’. keep it up–clearly it is working!

    • Well, my children are both adults and my husband loves cooking, so he cooks and I clean up. The hour is for eating and cleaning. I rarely get three hours of writing done in the evening because I usually end up doing blogging, writing my columns, yadda yadda–you know how it goes. It does force me to be more efficient in everything I do because there’s rarely time to do it slowly! Thanks for dropping by.

  6. Pingback: Can You Mix Genres in Your Writing? | WordDreams...

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