Tuesday’s Tip: An Author’s Schedule
Welcome to the first of my Tuesday’s Tips segment here on Literally Lydia. This segment is intended to help fellow writers and aspiring authors gain insight into the world of books, publishing, and behind the scenes situations authors face every day. I thought a good place to start would be…
The Author’s Schedule
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]o you’ve decided you’re no longer playing at a hobby and you’ve finally claimed the title of Author. Good for you! It’s about time! Anyone who needs to write, sweats words onto paper, spends hours mutilating sentence after sentence until each little letter sings and you’ve made every word bleed emotion…well, yeah, that sort of obsessive behavior is more than a hobby–it’s called being a writer.
[pullquote-left]Now that you’ve identified the compulsion to write and labeled it as something acceptable and possibly profitable, it’s time to take it seriously and map out a schedule.[/pullquote-left]
I’m going to warn you now, the “I think I might write tomorrow” mumble only gets respect for so long. People that don’t write don’t understand that when we’re working, we are lost, in our heads, gone, off to a place we don’t want anyone to reach us, and it takes a long time to get there and an even longer time to find our ways back to reality. They don’t hear from us for a while and start to worry. First there’s the text (I now only reply with, “writing”). Then comes
the call. The second call, immediately after the first, is the worst, because now you’re worried someone died. At that point, you forgot what you were thinking/writing so you answer the phone and–45 minutes later–you’ve completely lost your train of thought. But hey, you’re BFF is definitely going to go back and get those shoes. You’re such a good friend for helping her decide. Seriously, you need to learn not to answer. Yes, your friends and family will develop minor complexes, assuming you’re ignoring them because they’ve done something wrong. Warn them ahead of time that’s not the case and when you’ve met your deadline, buy them a drink and tell them how much you’ve missed them.
[pullquote-right]Structure is important. Take your work as a writer seriously if you want others to respect what it is you’re trying to do. Set hours. Dedicate specific days to certain tasks. And in the end, rest and reward yourself…this job doesn’t come with the reward of a Friday paycheck like many others.[/pullquote-right]
I have two schedules as an author. For simplicity, we will call the first “My Author Schedule” and the second “My Writing Schedule”. My Author Schedule is a wonderfully productive rhythm I call my “groove”. Things are getting done, plans of attack are bing made, I’m revving up my creative engines, and something great is coming. The other schedule, My Writing Schedule, that’s when everyone starts to worry–but not your readers. They’re humming with excitement, because they know something awesome is happening and soon enough it will be theirs to enjoy!
What each schedule looks like:
My Author Schedule
- 5:30 Wake
- 6:00 Gym (Walk 3 miles while listening to inspiring music or lectures on marketing)
- 7:00 Home; Get family ready and out the door
- 8:15 Quick call to BFF to go over plans for the day and say hello (Because we have this call she is truly the most respectful of my schedule and I love her for that!)
- 8:30-3:00 Crunch Time
- Google new reviews and share
- Answer emails
- Touch base with social sites (Chatting with my fans is one of my favorite things! I really need to watch my time, because I could lose days having fun laughing with them.)
- Work on any campaign/promo material (Being an author also means learning how to market and design, so start studying those subjects now and read every tip you can find on the subject.)
- Promote! Email, newsletters, social posts, etc… believe it or not, this is just as important as writing. You could be the best writer in the world, but if you down nurture a fan base no one will know you exist. Create a brand and get it out there.
- Outline. (I’ve drawn maps, family trees, Pinned characters, researched, made 39 foot time lines, driven places to gain a better understanding… you need to know what and who you are writing about. Your characters should be as real as your closest friends by the time your story is decided.)
- Eat! (I always forget to do this when I’m in the groove. Set alarms if you’re the same way when you get
- Stretch! (Sitting all day is bad! This is why I try to exercise in the morning, but I still need to stretch throughout the day. Yoga is a good friend of mine.)
- Edit! Edit! Edit! (I try to edit something for at least 1-3 hours a day.)
- Write blogs, interviews, blurbs, and whatever else needs your full attention.
- Make a list for everything left unfinished and label what items are time sensitive.
- 3:00-8:00 Author cape goes off and mom hat goes on
- 8:00-9:00 Bed. I take my bedtime very seriously, especially because, by nature, I’m productive in the morning and a slug at night. I often have my greatest ideas during this time. ALWAYS keep a notebook by your bed (I use my phone to keep notes).
My Writing Schedule
*Every author is different. When I write, I sprint, typically producing between 6k-14k (thousand words) a day. I produce my best work when I allow myself to be completely engrossed. I ONLY follow My Writing Schedule when I am actually writing the 1st draft of a manuscript. It takes me, roughly, 10-20 days to write a novel. It will take me months to edit it, which I do while following my other schedule.
- 4:15 Wake up and make coffee
- 4:30-7:00 Write! (more coffee…)
- 7:00-8:00 Family…
- 8:00-3:00 Write! (No BFF call today. Don’t worry, she was warned.)
- 3:00-3:30 Family… (They’ve also been warned Mommy’s writing. Meals are made in advance and snacks are at the ready.)
- 4:00-Midnight (or later) WRITE!
At some point I realize I’ve forgotten to eat and force myself to do so. When I wrote To Catch a Wolfe I lived off bananas because I could eat them quick. It’s really quite scary what writing does to a girl’s looks. The hair is unpardonable. The eyes are wrecked. The glasses are smudged. There is likely a stain (or several) on my shirt, which, let’s be honest, is my pajama top. It amazes me that after 19 books (more if you count my unpublished work) that my husband still finds me attractive. Luckily, authors clean up well. But by the time it’s all over and we’ve written those magical words “The End” you can imagine how starved we are for real human interaction.
It’s dirty work, writing. I admire anyone who has the grit and stick-to-itiveness for the job. It takes an incredible amount of sacrifice. The majority of my first drafts were completed under 14 days, but those days cost me. I miss my family, my friends, my morning phone calls, and my social life. My husband is an amazingly forgiving person to go through this process over and over again and still encourage me to write more. I love him for that. I love him for understanding that this passion of mine, it’s more than just a hobby. It’s a compulsion, a therapy, an identity of mine that gives me pleasure and value above any other career I’ve tried. It is an incredibly challenging job, ranking somewhere just below parenting, and the rewards are few and far between. But I love writing and, because I love it so much, it’s never felt like work.
What is your greatest obstacle when it comes to finding time to write?