Spring’s here, and I’m so glad. Signs of a refresh are everywhere: budding trees, longer days, spring training. Life reinvigorating itself. Noticing the new season’s changes made me take a closer look at my writing routines. And that prompted a question.
How do I spruce up my writing habits to better manage everything that needs doing?
That’s the rub, isn’t it? Every day in a writer’s life is about more than the words on the page. What happens when it’s time to refresh not only your words, but the habits that frame your writing? I’m sure you can relate. Like others in charge—of households, businesses, et cetera—now that I’m the boss (ha, I like that one), I juggle more tasks than just the basics. My time is split between doing what I love and doing what makes my business grow.
When I published my first novel, I went from simple wordsmith to: website designer, book marketer, blogger and social media content provider, office manager, accountant and help desk technician (yes, I’m awful at that last role).
With all these parts to play, often on a daily basis, how do you keep up? Especially when you have a day job and a life that requires at least marginal attention.
Since taking on these additional duties, I’ve struggled with how to make sure everything gets done, well and reasonably on time. Wearing several hats isn’t new to me, but being the boss is. I’m the one responsible for my business, and being in charge requires a heightened level of discipline.
Now that I work as a professional writer, I’ve discovered how to make my routine manageable.
Here are my top five strategies for organizing my writing and business habits:
1—Practice writing 5 days a week. Many sources (and famous writers) say to write every day. I’d love to, but that doesn’t work for me. Does that mean I’m a lousy writer? No. Will it take me longer than some to improve or get ahead? Maybe. But I’ve recognized my limitations, and for now, writing seven days a week rarely happens. I’ll still try, but I won’t beat myself up for missing a day. There’s enough pressure on, and all those other hats need wearing, too. As always, pick your battles.
2—Vary where, when and how you write. Sometimes I’m on my computer in my home office. Other times, at one of the coffee shops downtown. I type on my laptop outside. I grab one of my ever-present notebooks and write longhand, preferably in blue ink (blue makes me happier than black). I write in the morning, afternoon, evening and middle of the night, though not usually in the same day. The upshot: write when- and wherever you can.
3—Work with a critique group. I mentioned mine in my post, “Under Pressure.” I cannot stress enough the huge help those guys are, nor the support they give on many levels: sounding board for story ideas, insights into the writing business, founts of info and resources, and obviously critiques and camaraderie, which I absolutely need. Family, friends, loved ones…all crucial in life, but other writers? Sanity when you think you’ve lost it.
4—Make friends with a content marketing editorial calendar. Mine’s on the lean side at the moment, but it’s enough to keep me on track with the big-ticket items, like blogging and marketing. There’s nothing like seeing what needs doing in black-and-white (or blue-and-white, in my case) to keep me accountable. Hello, whiteboard, my old friend. You can add in dates for financial reporting, ordering supplies, whatever you need so you stick to a schedule. Here’s a calendar source to check out. I don’t endorse or use their products, nor get compensation for the mention, I just found useful info there. Find what works for you.
5—Embrace a To Do List. On a smaller scale, you’ll usually find me with my To Do List somewhere handy. My editorial calendar lives on my office wall, letting me see the month at a glance and know my basic tasks, while my To Do List drills into the down-and-dirty, like specifying details for a contest submission or picking up research materials at the library. When I feel overwhelmed, I’ll even write down something I’ve finished, just for the relief of crossing anything off my list. Yes, I’m one of those people. : P
So there you have it, a few things that keep me mostly on the straight-and-narrow. Do they work all the time? Hell, no. But they’re helping, for sure.
What about you, readers, writers, fans and friends? What are the writing and business habits that work for you? How often do you revisit your routine? I’d love to hear what keeps you motivated, so leave a comment below or shoot me an email. Thanks for reading and please share.