When I tell people that I’m a writer they get all sorts of ideas (and opinions) about how I spend my time. They imagine me sitting at a cafe, sipping herbal tea as I scribble away in my leather bound notebook, or locked in my office, surrounded by bookshelves proudly displaying all my NYT bestsellers while I hack away at my vintage typewriter (my god, does anyone actually do that?). They imagine the publishing world as glamorous and artistic and while it can be both of those things, what it really is, is a business, and I am a small business owner, much like any other.
What that means is that I don’t just write. I also market, promote, work with editors, agents, publicists, web designers, and a million other people to keep my business running smoothly. Oh, and I write novels too.
Oh, I’m sorry, did I just…
My average work week is 40-50 hours (I don’t work weekends unless I’m on a serious deadline or have a scheduled event of some kind) long and I average between 2,500 words and 5000 words a day, on days when I am able to focus mainly on writing. But, alas, more often than not, my time is much more divided than that, and only 1-2 days a week am I able to devote my full work day to writing. My days look much more like this:
I arrive at office at 8:15 am. (I am REALLY fortunate to have a home office. It makes it much easier to keep ‘office hours’ and have a dedicated writing space.)
The first thing I do is scroll through and apply my daily marketing checklist. Yes, I have a list. Yes, I need a list to keep me from wandering off like a lost duckling.
FYI, my DAILY checklist looks like this:
This list is bare minimum. It doesn’t include the calendar of stuff that pops up like meetings and appointments, etc which are randomly scheduled throughout the month. Today, for example, I got a reminder that I’m supposed to be making a graphic for an ad I’m running next week.
Then I work through my WEEKLY list, and do whatever is listed for that day. My weekly list looks like this:
Once that is done, I look over my monthly list and see if there is anything that needs to be done from that list. Monthly things include bookkeeping, market research, meetings with my agent, meetings with my assistant, meetings with my publisher, as well as scheduling promotions, setting the next month’s budgets, etc. That is a long, ugly list so I’m not making you a pretty graphic for it (sorry, I can’t do ALL the work for you!) Only after all that do I begin working on whatever my writing project is at the time. Though, even that doesn’t necessarily mean words on page. It can mean research, outlining, editing, or any number of other tasks. All of which needs to be done to keep my business running smoothly. On a good day, I can get all this done in about 3 hours, and then still have time to write. I allow myself extra time on Wednesdays to finish up anything from my lists that I missed during the week, since that is the one day I work fewer hours (my kiddos get home early that day, so it’s my short day).
Wow, that sounds like a lot of work, huh? Spoiler alert, it is. And what’s worse, being online that much means a very real danger of getting sucked into random online happenings. I call them rabbit holes and they are dangerous to writers, because of the sheer amount of time we already spend online. If you find yourself having a problem with this, I highly suggest setting yourself an alarm, then when it goes off, disconnect from your wifi. Seriously. It needs to be done.
Let me emphasise that your daily schedule may (and probably does) look very different than mine. That’s great. We all have our own way to do things, however, if you are looking at my list thinking, wow, I don’t know if I can do all that, you should know that no matter how you choose to publish, this work is yours and yours (often) alone. There are services you can pay to help you with all this, but at the end of the day, you can and should at least know how do do it yourself. And, full disclosure, I have a PA who helps me with a great deal of my social media stuff. She’s amazing and way underpaid. About two years ago I decided that I wanted to bring on some help, and I was fortunate enough to be able to do just that. Not everyone is, and I know that makes things hard sometimes. Hey, we all fall short, but hopefully having these basic lists will give you a leg up when it comes to the day to day of running your own author business.
Good luck, my nerds. Happy Writing!