As an author, I pride myself on writing clean prose, but I’m afraid I can’t say the same for my writing space or schedule since Distortion found its publisher. Seems like the writing life has needed more time and my already-stretched days have yielded less time for organization.
Today that’s finished. Writer mess, find another patsy! Here are 4 steps I’m following to prevent feeling overwhelmed in the lead-up to my book launch on November 3rd:
1) Fresh words:
Start each morning with my usual, fresh-head writing session. That means no checking emails or Twitter before I put in my first hour. I can’t turn on the news unless it breaks into the radio while I’m driving my son to school. I’ve done this for a long time, often rise at 5 am to get the words in, but find there’s no other way to ensure that I’m moving forward on my writing goals.
2) Controlled clutter:
I need to spend at least an hour each day on housework. Between homeschooling, working nights and writing-related stuff, this tends to be the thing that gets neglected. There’s a wonderful mom online whose name escapes me. She advocates setting a timer for 10-15 minutes when starting a cleaning session. I’m going to follow her advice on the timer. It makes me feel less flustered. I cannot have a perfect house through this, but at the end of my late-night, home-from-work 15-minute cleaning session, I can at least know that the house won’t be condemned nor the kids carted away to protect their health–just kidding. The house will be good enough.
3) Limited commitments:
Even though my publisher has set a great publicist to work on promoting Distortion, I am still responsible for part of creating “discoverability” for my book. This is the most overwhelming part of being an author and I will accept any advice on it. They say that over a million books will be published this year and while I am competing with all of them, Buzz Books has given me the advantage of being in print and available through Ingram’s iPage. That means that as of late October, any bookstore in the country will be able to order my book. My job is to convince them to do so, to help readers discover it, and to help encourage respected reviewers to read it. I will be blogging more on this later this week and month.
For now, I’m focused on review requests, writing events, and social media. If I take the time to send two of each on work days and double that on my days off work, I can feel that I’ve done my best for my book and my publisher. Since I research each review or event request, I find that one can take thirty minutes–even if I already have the person’s name when I start. A blog post can take an hour to write. Luckily, my teen student has committed to working on independent projects after lunch each day. I only answer questions or help with directing him. I can allot about two hours every day to all of my author commitments–including edits and promotions.
4) Keeping it logged:
With a spreadsheet, I track my performance on these goals as well as who to follow up with and when. Using the sheet has to be fast, so my first four columns are just boxes to check completion: Fresh Writing Session, 15-Minute clean-up, School, 15-minute clean-up. Then I have more detailed columns to fill out on whom I wrote or which social media I worked on. Finally my last cleaning session and whether or not I got to indulge in a late-night writing session.
One final note: Balance
My evenings off work cannot be part of this routine for the most part. I have only two per week so I have to dedicate those to spending with my husband and two boys. When possible, I get together briefly with a friend, but my real friends understand this time is so limited just now and have been incredibly supportive.