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A Writer’s (Holi)day

Small boy with his handicapped grandfatherAny writer who has come of age in the era of social media knows authors do a lot more than write books. We have three big jobs:

  • writing–includes our WIP, blog posts, articles, freelance work–anything that gets our name out there as a writer and lets us practice our art. On a good day, this might be 60% of what I do.
  • publishing–includes managing media outlets, getting our work and name out there, finding an agent. This varies from 5% to 80% of my day’s activities.
  • marketing–finding people who are interested in our writing. Like publishing, this varies depending upon where I am in the writing cycle.

This is aside from the Real Job that pays the bills, supports our family, and keeps us in Starbucks.

With the holidays approaching, I created a TODO list  to help me stay organized:

  1. get back into the tech thriller I’ve been working on forever.
  2. stay on top of trends in my technology-in-education field. That includes 3D printing, Maker Mentality, student-run Genius Bars, and an IT curriculum for high school. Just reading about this stuff, much less integrating it into my knowledge base, daunts me. But it’s the cape I wear. Sigh.
  3. answer daily inquiries–this includes requests for help and advice, doing interviews and radio shows, reviewing materials. These are fascinating, often unexpected. And always time consuming. Deciding whether I’m a good fit for someone takes a lot of research on my part. I don’t want to promise something I can’t deliver, or disappoint them when I do. It’s all avoidable if I spend upfront time.
  4. market books I’ve published. My marketing is the free sort and includes:

  • my publisher’s website
  • other book outlets
  • blogs
  • wikis
  • social networks
  • word-of-mouth

I subscribe to the ‘five a day’ approach to marketing–seeking out five new people who I haven’t met each day. Sometimes, all that means is 5 tweets. Other days, it’s more involved.

So, I set up a holiday schedule that I hope will accomplish those goals while satisfying my three writer obligations. Three jobs–three parts to the day. Sounds simple. Of course, it only applies when I have full free days:


  1. post to my blogs
  2. write book reviews–I like reading reviews of books I might buy, and it turns out, so do my readers.
  3. keep in touch with my social network of writers, friends, colleagues
  4. prepare and tape webinars, online classes
  5. let creativity flower–see what my brain is working on. That’s quite often something else entirely than my plans.


  1. work on my WIP–currently my tech thriller. I need to get back into it!
  2. if I need a creativity break, read other people’s writing. I find lots of inspiration in that


  1. respond to requests for information, answer emails–that sort of thing
  2. update my website (must do that weekly or Google will stop finding me)
  3. market my current books on my current outlets
  4. fulfill freelance writing gigs. These are fun and get me thinking outside my box. I always spend too long on these.
  5. read in my genre–thrillers and technology-in-education

I’ve scheduled my free time before and it didn’t go well. Morning jobs leaked into afternoon. I’d get involved in blog posts and forget to move on. Social networks–now there’s a black hole. I have no advice for staying on top of them.

What’s your day like? Give me some suggestions that might help!

More posts about writing:

5 Ways to Write Like Your Hair’s on Fire

Do You Really Want to Try to Earn a Living as a Writer?

Traditional or Indie? I’m Really Stressed Over This

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of dozens of books on integrating tech into education, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. 

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46 thoughts on “A Writer’s (Holi)day

  1. I’ve enjoyed reading all of the comments. I am retired and I have established a schedule for my reading, writing, pondering, etc. It seems to work for me. I believe it stems from the work I did in the past as a trainer (for organizational management and development) for a major University. There are times when I get off track and spend too much time on one aspect of my writing, I just move on. Thanks for your articles. They help to keep me motivated.


  2. You are amazing person, Jacqui. I’m awed by so much that you do and I know it’s not easy. You face problems just like all of us but you seem to manage them better than most even if you aren’t able to conquer all of them. There is much to take away from this post and try to apply to my own life, especially to my writer’s life. The social media is really hard for me. I want to stay on top and read so many other writers’ works, but I just can’t get a handle on all of it. I miss posts by so many writers whose work I love to read.
    All I really need is another life – either a second one for me, or someone else’s entirely.
    Then again – nah.


  3. OH man, this is not my schedule. Not even close. But one of these days I will be more scheduled and rigorous and have you to thank! You’re a writing hero in my book Jacqui!! Incidentally, have you seen the documentary on Netflix…Print the Legend? I found it really interesting…about the race to conquer the 3-D printing market. There’s so much technology out there, it’s exciting to think about what could be possible in the future. Hmmm…maybe printing your own book at home:)


  4. Great schedule. I don’t have one. I have weekly to-do lists and cross things off as I go. Sometimes my weekends are very crammed since I’m doing things I didn’t have time to do on weekdays. I get a lot done during the holidays, though.


      • I think you may be right that there can be a conflict between creativity and productivity. I find that at my most creative, I often have periods when I have to sit and stare into space, not “doing” anything.
        I alternate that with times like the present, when I don’t give myself permission to start a big creative project until I get some mundane junk out of the way. It all takes way longer than there’s any rational reason it ought to.
        I’ll be starting a new book soon, very soon . . . and maybe I’ll introduce just a bit more structure into my schedule, having read this post. Thanks.


  5. My Twins made it through the USAFA and USNA at the same time, separately, They might have killed each other at the same one at same time. Now both are on school together in NY, learned to work together finally not be competitors, but collaborators.)))))))))))


  6. Hmm.
    I know I have become better organized since this spring but can’t imagine a heavy schedule like yours. Having read it, I feel I’ve run a marathon and need to sit down and catch my breath.😀😀
    I don’t see any breaks, eating nor sleeping.🙂 🙂


  7. I know I have my days and week much, much better sorted now but no way could I accomplish anywhere near as much as you do, Jacqui. Reading your schedule is like running a marathon and now I’m out of breath. I don’t see and breaks for hot drinks, eating and sleeping…😀 😀 😀


  8. Im struggling to balance my art for gallery and my passion for writing. I need to set up lists for my day too. Thanks Jacqui, you are amazing, I would fall in a heap if my schedule was this big but I know you will rock it.


  9. Wow! Okay, Jacqui, you are my inspiration! I’ll probably never be as organized (and with so many interesting projects going on!) but I think if I could accomplish half of what you do I’d be thrilled. Thanks for sharing this. As always, I enjoy your posts.



  10. Jacqui,
    I admire your diligence. My schedule is not nearly this complete, since it depends on what my job requires, but I try to hit most of these things. I try to do blog stuff during breaks at work and use most of my evening for my WIP, ideally at least. It’s a lot of work, marketing yourself online, but the tools are all there and it’s a lot easier than before, when a writer’s only outlet to the wider world was a magazine or literary agent. Good luck with all your endeavors!


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