By Jade Varden
If you’re an indie author, you’ve got to spend a ton of time promoting your work, writing your work, editing your work – and, if you’re like most indie authors, you’ve also got to hold down a job, maintain some semblance of a relationship with your family and still make time for your friends.
So how do you find the time to do it all?
No matter what you’re doing (even when it’s something you love) you shouldn’t allow yourself to get over-worked. No matter how much you love something, you can get too much of a good thing and you can stress yourself out. It’s kind of like eating potatoes every day. They’re my favorite food, and they can be prepared in a hundred different ways, but if that’s the only thing I ever got to eat I’m sure I would go insane. If all you do is write, read and push yourself to be a successful indie author, you’re just making yourself crazy. Find ways to start saving time, learn how to develop a schedule and always make sure you’re making time for you.
• Work comes first. If you have a paying job that you (and potentially your family) depend upon, it’s got to come first. Everyone’s got responsibilities, so no matter what you have to make time for them. If you have trouble staying on task, get yourself a calendar program. I use one and I schedule my work tasks daily, so I know exactly what I need to do to complete my day properly. Checking things off the list is a mini-success every time, and it feels great; this is a good way to stay on task and stay motivated.
• Make time for you. How much time, every day, do you spend doing something that you want to do? Do you exercise, take long baths, play games or listen to your favorite music? Give yourself at least one hour of free time daily, even when you feel like you’re being crushed by a mountain of must-do tasks. If you don’t take some time just for yourself, you’re going to be unpleasant to be around – and you’re going to end up slacking off on all the stuff you have to do.
• Schedule in advance. Obviously I’m not on Twitter 24 hours a day, because I am not a robot. But most days, you’ll find me tweeting at least once an hour. I’m not inhuman or so ravaged by energy drinks I can’t close my eyes; I schedule some of them in advance. I also schedule some blog posts in advance; sometimes even several days in advance. You don’t have to do everything in real-time, and if you’re a normal human being it’s not even feasible to do so. I use HootSuite to write Tweets in advance, and you can always schedule your blog posts to appear at a later date through common hosting sites like Blogger and Wordpress. If you don’t have a lot of time through the week for book promotion, you can always take a few hours on the weekend to schedule in advance.
• Set a limit. I’ve got to sleep. But I also have a long list of review commitments to write, so I’ve got to spend time reading all those books. I always save my reading time for last; I grab my Kindle right before I slip into bed. But if I’m not careful, I could be at it all day and wind up never getting any sleep at all. That’s why I’ve got to set limits, and maybe you should, too, if you find time running away from you. I read two chapters a night and that’s it, because if I don’t limit myself I don’t get enough sleep. Sometimes, you’ve just got to cut yourself off. Being an indie means being your own boss, so be the boss.
• Save ideas. You know what takes a lot of time? Thinking about stuff. I don’t come up with the idea for a blog post, research it, write it and publish it all in the same day – I’m not Super Writer. When I see that I’m running low on ideas for blog posts, I engage in a little brainstorming session. You can save draft posts all day long with blogging software, or keep a list of notes for yourself that can be accessed on your computer. When an idea strikes out of the blue, make a quick note of it and add it to the list. Instead of trying to do it all at once, save your ideas in advance and do your writing in pieces. Huge chunks of writing time don’t come along in everyone’s life, so you may have to do it in little steps. Keep notes, and keep remembering where they are, and stop trying to do everything all at once.
• Get rid of the distractions. I work alone when I’m working on my writing, which is ideal. It’s why I choose to work at night – everyone else is asleep, everything is quiet and I’m not going to be bothered. But distractions find a way to creep in no matter what your situation happens to be. I like to keep the TV on when I write (so I don’t feel so alone), but I found out pretty quick that there’s only one thing I can have on when I’m working: re-runs. I have to put the TV on something that I’ve seen before or my focus is going to be shot. You know what distracts you and what pulls your attention away from your writing, so get rid of it. If you find yourself getting distracted, you’ve got to rely on yourself to change it because no one else is going to do it for you.
Saving time isn’t just about finding the quickest and most efficient methods of working. I could write about arranging your desk so you have to move less to get tasks done, preventing yourself from reading emails until the end of the day, scheduling specific times to cruise the forums and Facebook. But the truth is, saving time is more about staying focused and knowing what you need to do. If you’re doing a lot of thinking and planning and staring at the walls, it’s usually a sign of disorganization and a lack of proper scheduling. Plan ahead, and start every day with a plan in mind so you know just how to attack it. Saving time is about making time for what you need to do, getting it done, and learning how to let go of those tasks that don’t have to be completed.
About the Author:
Jade Varden writes young adult novels for teen readers. When she’s not working on her books, Jade blogs practical writing tips for authors who self-publish at Jade Varden Official Blog
Follow her on Twitter @JadeVarden.
We would like to thank author Jade Varden for sharing this guest post with us.