Plus 5 Time Management Tips for Managing Writing Life
Ever wonder what life would be like as an author? It's not all unicorns and rainbows, I can tell you that. But it is worth the frustrations.
This is what a normal day looks like for me (disclaimer: this changes depending on the day of the week, whether we're homeschooling or on break, and the phase of my book—drafting, revising, launching, or recording audio book):
Sample Day in the Life of an Indie Author when in the Marketing Phase: Thursday 1/10/19
woke up at 8:45a, wake-up routine
started homeschool for the day (ACE curriculum emphasizes self-learning, so I don't have to spend time lecturing, just grading tests and answering questions), cleaned bathrooms, energized my brain with what I call “brain games” at lumosity.com
checked emails, entered giveaways, prepared for a webinar
made lunch and ate it while listening to a webinar about how to create a revenue plan for home-based businesses (Kayla Roof's fantastic Work from Anywhere Academy)
coaching call with a writing coach, Deanne Welsh
researched Planoly.com from Kayla's recommendation
went outside to get mail, stretched, more homeschool, more emails
checked all links in email scheduled to go to my email list that weekend
Bible Study, exercise (5 min workouts)
shower, put away last of the Christmas decorations I had forgotten about ;)
washed, rinsed, & re-filled water bottles, cooked & ate supper
time with my youngest son, had to rewrite a blog post for which the file got corrupted :(
put my youngest son to bed (family devotions)
watched Netflix with husband
time with my oldest son before I put him to bed, worked more on my blog post
bedtime snack, talked with husband, in bed 12:45a but couldn't get to sleep until 1:30a
Sample Day in the Life of an Indie Author During Drafting Phase 5/5/19:
woke up early (6:20a) because of eating pattern disrupted the night before
worked on updating and revising blog post for the next day
continued writing first draft of #4 in the “Love is” series for 30 minutes
cooked and ate breakfast
Standardized testing for IOWA Basic tests (one week each school year)
in between administering tests, washed dishes by hand
checked the weather, re-energized my brain at Lumosity
cooked and ate lunch
checked emails and Facebook
15-20 minutes of exercise (the Faithful Fitness Lines workout course for Christian women with Kristen Ekiss has been such a blessing and so much easier for me to keep on a consistent schedule; I’m proud to be an affiliate with them, as they bring Christ-centered, not body-centered, fitness routines at a very affordable monthly price!)
went outside and soaked up some sun with my son ;)
spent time with youngest son putting together a puzzle
took a bath and read
cooked and ate supper
spent time watching YouTube videos with my oldest son
put my youngest son to bed
read for pleasure and had a bedtime snack
went to sleep early while husband put my oldest son to bed
Have you wondered what a writer does all day? As you can see, it varies. It depends on the writer's goals, whether to just write as a hobby whenever they get inspired or to make it a career, and whether they have publishers' deadlines or they set their own. It depends on whether they're working another job, raising kids, or in my situation, homeschooling. You see that I didn't get any fiction writing done during the first sample day. Blogging and building my audience had been my main goals, so that is why.
There are some lessons I've learned that have helped me to manage my time better within my specific situation. Better, not perfectly. I still find myself spending too much time on Facebook or playing games. But I spend time in Bible study and family time every day, and those are my top priorities.
If you've ever thought about making a career out of writing, pull up a chair, pour your favorite beverage, and listen to these practical tips I've learned to keep my time managed to at least a sane and manageable stress. ;)
1. Check Emails & Facebook only at designated times
Setting specific times to check emails is one thing I'm learning. I get notifications on my phone so I won't miss any urgent emails about my blog site or if I'm away from my laptop. Closing down the Facebook tab on my laptop has been a huge help (although, I still need to keep it open if I'm expecting a message or a webinar notification, as my phone doesn't have enough memory for all that).
I've found that checking emails first thing in the morning usually keeps me from checking them much during the day. Then I check them once more after I put the kids to sleep.
2. Section off two hours a day for marketing, researching, and learning
For me, the afternoon is my least productive time. I make myself do some stretches and at least a 5-minute workout routine in the middle of the afternoon. But this is the time when my brain is least likely to be able to create, so I don't schedule writing times here.
I like to schedule things like social media connecting, SEO research, and webinars during this time. This might also include research for your work in progress (WIP) or your next blog post.
I also schedule my exercise time here to re-energize my body, which in turn helps my brain function better the remainder of the day.
For you, it might be different. Experiment with what time of day is feasible and best for your creativity. Then pick a not-so-peak time for your business-related tasks.
3. Expect Interruptions throughout the day
Non-writing activities can interrupt the creative flow, so be prepared for that, as well as extra interruptions you weren’t expecting. Turn off notifications and put your phone on silent while writing or recording.
Other non-writing activities need to be scheduled right into your day, so you can work your writing activities around them. For me, these are the activities I know I will need to schedule in:
Church on Sundays and Wednesday nights
Bible study and brain games
Homeschool in mornings
Family night and individual time in evenings
Time with husband at least a couple of nights a week
First schedule things that must happen at the same time each day. Then schedule things that happen weekly (church, family nights, kids' sports games, etc.). Then just expect that interruptions and urgent tasks will come up. Don't beat yourself up if your writing time gets pushed back until after the kids go to bed, or if a family emergency requires you to take a break from writing altogether.
The key is to keep as consistent as possible and not fret when consistency is impossible.
4. Set aside a time for writing, editing, or recording every week; it won't be daily for me.
Implemented after the kids are in bed, on the nights I'm not spending alone time with my husband.
This is changing for me. I realized that if I tell my kids not to disturb me for a 30-minute writing session or an hour recording session, they won't. Of course, my boys are getting bigger (13 and 8.5), so it works for me.
It may not work if your kids are younger. But if they go to school, you should have a couple of hours while they're gone to work on your big project.
5. Schedule time for procrastination; for me, it's weekends.
Rest on Sunday. Always. My creative brain needs recharging.
Depending on my mood and whether I have anything else scheduled, Saturday is either a work catch-up day on my big projects or an extra rest day.
I've found that I have to take a break for my creative mind to get recharged and refreshed. (Writing coach Kate Johnson calls it “filling your creative well.”) However you describe it, God created our brains to need breaks and rests.
My inspiration (also called the writer’s “muse”) needs refilling, too, so I like to spend my rest time expressing myself in other creative outlets, like scrapbooking, photography, Bible journaling, coloring, or painting.
For you, it may be getting outside and taking a walk or a run. It may be any kind of exercise. It might be a relaxing bubble bath with a good book.
Side note, good writers must be readers. If you don't make time to read, you won't improve your writing craft.
Conclusion: Everyone's schedule will be different; everyone's brains work differently. Hopefully, you can start with what works for me and tweak it to find what works better for you.
Do you have any other questions about what I do as an author or when I find time to do something? Ask in the comments below!