Industry Post: It’s Time to Write
Nicky F. Grant is the self-proclaimed “World’s Biggest Procrastinator,” so she knows a thing or two about time management—or a lack thereof. Thankfully, she’s willing to share what she’s learned with us here at Book+Main!
In today’s Industry Post, she’s going to talk about the pitfalls new authors encounter, share what she’s discovered to help you learn how to manage your time more effectively, and provide you with the resources to know when it’s time to write—and time to binge that Netflix series you’ve been eyeing.
Tick, tick, tick…
*Scrolls through Facebook*
*Clicks on cute puppy video*
“Wow, look at that author’s teaser for her new book.”
“I’ll never be that good. I’ll never write as many books as her. No one likes my posts 300 times.”
Holy cow, I just wasted several hours on social media. And now I’m completely stressed out and I’ll never get this book done! My marketing package will never be as eye-catching as (insert author name here). How did I get down this rabbit hole?
During my time of distraction, I’d convinced myself that my mindless scrolling was to research how other authors market their books. That could be true, except I’d been led astray by those darn puppy videos and a heaping spoonful of self-deprecation. Guilt seeped in, a feeling of unworthiness overcame my brain, and the hopelessness that my career will never take off rested in my chest.
Raise your hand if you’ve been in this situation as a new author. I’m sure many of you have. And the sad part is that once we get to that comparing-ourselves-to-others mindset, we throw in the towel and succumb to internet fodder. Then, day after day, we tell ourselves we don’t have the time to write books, market them, create a launch plan, find new readers, and all the things that go into Authorpreneurship.
But there is hope. With all that time we spent beating ourselves up, we could’ve produced the book we always wanted to write. We may yet find we’re capable of knocking out one to four books a year from our “to-be-writing” or TBW list. Hmmm. Now that’s a thought.
The point is, if we shift our urge to procrastinate and eliminate the paradigm of comparing ourselves to others, we would be well on our way to becoming a full-time writer. Sounds easy, right? Not so much. As humans (and writers LOL), distractions are easy to come by. New habits and accountability are huge hurdles to cross. But with practice, time can work with you, not against you.
Through this post, I hope to provide a different spin on how we can work toward our personal writing goals. No longer will you mutter, “If only I had time to (fill in the blank)!” Because you do have time. As important as this journey and career is, you’ll be amazed by how many hours in a day you might have to pursue it!
In this post, we’re going to talk about different ways to maximize and allot your time. Here’s how:
• We’ll break down (to the hour) how much time you have in a day to commit to your writer’s life.
• We’ll discuss flexibility for endurance. An author’s career is much like a marathon, not a sprint.
• And finally, I’ll leave with you a few handy worksheets to use as visual aids throughout your next book deadline.
TIME IS AN INVESTMENT, “SPEND” IT WISELY
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” ~ Michael Altshuler
Recently, I wrote a guest blog post for Book+Main called: Spend Less, Write More. It discussed how to save precious dollars and move toward financial consciousness. We’re going to take that “investment” mindset and shift it over to Time is Money, an investment unto itself.
How do we do that? Let’s say you have a piggy bank with a pile of “time” coins. I’ll show you how to fill it with time increments. And, guess what? Each week, that little piggy resets to zero and is replenished. What a concept! I wish money could do that. 😉
With this piggy bank, we’ll track down where you can drop in increments of time spent and discover that, with the right “investements”, you can write a book within a certain period. Trust me, I hate maths, but you’ll end up loving this concept to manage your business, life, and writing.
THE TIME BANK BREAKDOWN
I’m the world’s biggest procrastinator. Napping is my favorite pastime and Netflix binges are my superpower! So, over the last six months, I fought to hold myself accountable. I deleted all social media apps from my phone, got rid of those tempting emails from Netflix advertising a new series, and started protecting my time. And believe me the withdrawals were real… *Shakes in the corner*
Once I tracked lost moments, it came as no surprise I was spending an average of six hours a week on social media. That equates to 4,500 words per week I missed out on (based on 750 words/hour x six hours). Not to mention the hour a day I take to nap. Yes, I LOVE my naps, but losing out on another 5,200 words a week? Oh, heck no! All told, if I’d valued my hours, I would’ve reached my word count goal for the week.
What am I getting at? Through my tracking exercise, I found that time is a friend, not an enemy. It must be treated as a commodity and ally. Time only appears to work against us when we’re stubborn against it. Hence, my distractions mentioned above.
At this point, you may be asking, “How much time can I fill my bank with each week?” Great question! Let’s break it down. There are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which equals 168 hours total. Based on that, you have a pile of 168 coins. Each one represents one hour of time. Inscribed on each coin is a category like this:
Each category denotes how you spend your day. When looking at this, begin by factoring in necessities. Think of all the unavoidable events that keep us alive and surviving; things like eating, sleeping, working (if moonlighting as an author), etc.
Remember, your time is rare and unique to you, so label your “coins” to align with your life without overextending yourself. Here are two worksheets to print out and follow along:
**Note: you can start your coin distribution with writing and marketing priorities then back in kiddos, work, sleep, etc.
For this example, I’ve shared my piggy bank and “coins,” so you can see how my sheet breaks down per week. (See left.)
At this point, my little piggy has ingested 115 hours—leaving me a balance of 53 hours to play with. Feel free to get liberal with yours. If you want to get super granular, you can! Add an hour a day to bathe, beautify, or slipping into your favorite leggings. Make the time work with you and for you.
As you complete the rest of your sheet, things should become more flexible. If you have children, tack on time for school activities and upcoming play dates. What about house chores, or spending time with the spouse? And yes, budget out Netflix. That series isn’t gonna watch itself! Self-care is super important to keep your muse happy.
Okay…whew. With life’s priorities out of the way, let’s add in our writing or marketing time. Where can you factor in your word count? You may write 1,000 words/hour with a goal of 10,000 words a week. So, allocate 10 hours of writing time.
Are you setting up your launch plan, packed full of social media posts, and discussions/meetings with a PR firm? Allocate your time there as well! How does your week look thus far? Is your “coin” balance zero? If not, be flexible. Enjoy a glass of wine, watch a movie, or put in a few more words if the muse is on fire! Again, self-care is super important. To achieve balance, this roadmap will help.
MAKING TIME WORK WITH YOU
Now your list is perfect and all your coins are allocated, it’s time to put it to work. Each week, review your list: has anything changed? Did a sudden event for the kids come up? Maybe you want to visit a friend for dinner. You can increase or decrease a category’s time allotment as the week goes on. Life happens, so be kind to yourself. No one likes a frustrated author—just ask my husband and my muse.
Your next step is to take your week and break it down into daily increments. Each morning, review your DAILY task worksheet and revert back to it throughout the day. Check off or give yourself a sticker for task completed. At the end of the day, review again. Did you accomplish everything? Were you unable to get in your writing or marketing time? Did one task take longer than expected? Reflect on what caused you to not reach your daily goal and revise for the following day.
This is a living, breathing document. Realize that you may require a revision to fit in your writing goals by scrapping that “relaxation” time you wanted. Don’t beat yourself up, this is practice. The more you work at it, the more natural it’ll become.
When I approached my latest book deadline, this simple method helped me complete my novel with a week to spare. You may find your writing and editing time will become “heavier” leading up to release and that’s expected. Revisit your priorities and revise frequently. I promise, you’ll have a less frustrated mind, a happier muse, and a completed book.
I didn’t think it was possible when I started this new habit. But holy cow, I was amazed that—for once—I avoided “release drop”, met my deadlines, and became more focused through the process. Finally, I was cognizant and aware of making the most of my few hours a night writing. And best of all, managing that left me with more time to edit versus performing huge rewrites!
No matter your goals, I hope this easy method and visual aid will help you discover your best writer’s life. Remember: own your career, protect your time, and soon enough you’ll be writing all the words. And who knows? That dream of writing full-time could be within your reach.
ABOUT ME? AWW…SHUCKS…
Erotic romance is my game. Alpha males and strong heroines tickle my fancy and spark the words on the page. There’s something enthralling about the emotional bond of kink that fuels my characters’ crazy decisions toward love.
I’m a Pittsburgh author who loves naps, cuddles with my doggo, and hanging with my husband. And reading? I love steamy AF books that tug on every emotion.
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