Alright. So I'm not a starving artist. But it sometimes feels that way, especially when the ideas swarming in my head are anxious to be put to paper. And, when the fate of my characters or, you know, the mystical world I am creating hangs in the balance, eating a meal just doesn't seem quite as important.
I was recently asked where I found the time to manage a full time job, graduate classes, and, most importantly write my novels. Do I sleep? Do I eat? Do I spend time with my friends and family? The answer to all of these questions is yes. I sleep. Eat. Socialize. But, I also prioritize my time so that I can dedicate myself to my full time job in higher education AND, what feels like my second full time job, writing.
What I have learned through this journey of writing and publishing my first novel, while also working on a new set of books (a fantasy series!) and working full-time in a non-writing industry, is that maximizing time is important. The creative part of writing cannot be forced or coerced. So, when the juices are flowing it's time to stop everything and write. Sometimes at the cost of other things (like sleep and food). And it's not just the putting pen to paper (or in this case fingertips to keys) that is time consuming. It is the research, the promotion, and the countless hours of editing. There's a lot more that goes into being a published author these days, especially one who is self-publishing.
But, as I am going through this process, there are 5 things I think every new author should know:
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5. Treat writing like a job. And not just any job. A business.
Especially if you are self-publishing. I guess this means I'm an also an entrepreneur. Who knew?
Bonus: Develop a business plan. For many of us out there who are writers, business seems a foreign concept, but developing a business plan will keep you on track to finishing your book(s) and getting out to the public.
4. Set Hours. Now, I know, and as I stated above, sometimes the creative juices are flowing and you need to get your thoughts out so that you don't forget them. That's fine. Do that. But, you should set aside specific time to do the editing. And the business planning. And everything else that goes into being a self-published author.
3. Set deadlines. No. Seriously. If you're self-publishing, especially if you're working a full time job, have kids, or are involved within the community, setting deadlines is key to keeping you on track and organized.
2. Prioritize. Seems like a no-brainer, common sense approach, right? Right? But so often we just go with the flow. Have a deadline coming up (because you set those, right? RIGHT?) Make sure that you finish the chapter or the editing or the calling of your editor or your artist. Check it off the list and keep going. It's so easy to get bogged down and overwhelmed by everything that self-publishing entails, but if you manage this by setting your priorities you'll be fierce. Just like Amy Poehler.
1. Which brings us to number one. Find good people to encourage you, who are willing to read your chapters, your blogs, and the numerous notes you'll write. Find a partner to help you establish yourself as an entrepreneurial author. You'll need it. Find people who will tell you when your writing is garbage and when it is the best thing since Betty White. Being a self-publishing author is time-consuming, hard work, and sometimes neurotic. But, if you can find people to support you in your endeavors, you can get through it.
(Shout out to my partner for being my number one support through the writing and self-publishing process!)