What I Wish I’d Known – Part 6

Managing Your Time

The hardest part of being a writer – for me at least – isn’t coming up with new ideas.  It isn’t working out a really cool plot of trying to decide which conferences to go to or how to best market the product you’ve created.  Trust me, those ARE hard.  They’re extremely hard.  But they’re not the hardest part.

No, the hardest part if figuring out how to manage your time.

My life is pretty busy without adding anything book related.  I work a full time day job where I have to leave the house by 7:30am and I get back home around 5:45pm.  I am married and have two wonderful – if oftentimes demanding – children.  They’re both young and stubborn which means that sometimes bedtime is a chore which requires a lot of patience, an understanding wife, and a lot of luck.  There are nights were the battle isn’t won until 9-10pm.  Anyone with small children can probably relate.

That really only leaves me two options to get writing time in.  Either before I leave in the morning OR after the kids are in bed.  Usually, I go with after.  In fact, I always go with after since I really don’t like getting out of bed in the morning.  Go figure, right?  So it’s well after midnight when I got to bed and well before 6 when I wake up to get ready and go to the day job.

Now that I’m a published author though, I can’t just devote my time only to writing.  There are marketing tasks to be completed, social media pages to update, emails to be read and responded to, meeting with editors and others from my publisher, interviews, podcasts, and a million and one other things that now take MORE time away from actually writing, not less.  It seems like there’s never enough time.  So I just get less sleep.

It’s unhealthy, I know.  My wife gets after me about it all the time.  The book tour manager at my publishing company gets after me about it.  My editors get after me about it.  My parents get after me about it.  I get after me about it.  My four year old son gives me lectures about dying all the time.  But it’s what works so that I can get writing and other stuff done.  I’ll be honest though, sometimes it gets to be a little much and I have to take a break.  These last few weeks I’ve just done some light editing/revising and a final read-through.  I haven’t been doing a lot of other series writing or marketing.  I should be, but I haven’t been.  I will start up again soon.

But the point is that the system works for me.  I can get in both marketing (and other stuff) and writing.  At an LTUE convention Michaelbrent Collings gave a 1:3 ratio for this “other stuff.”  He said that for every 2 hours you spend writing, you have to spend AT LEAST 1 hour doing this “other stuff.”  He went on to explain that sometimes it ends up the other way around – 2 hours doing “other stuff” and 1 hour actually writing.  I didn’t believe him at first.  Really, that’s how much time you have to spend doing “other stuff?”  I had this grandiose idea that a published author had more time to write that before because he had a readership and that offered some sense of security.

I was wrong.

However, I developed a system that works for me to get it done.  That’s essentially what I’m trying to say.  Writing is a job as well as an artistic endeavor.  You have to find the time it needs to devote to it and then consistently do it in a manner that works for you.  Brandon Sanderson has often been touted a prolific writer.  People assume that he writes quickly and a lot.  That’s not really the case.  He writes consistently using his own system to get stuff done.  That’s how he manages to write so much so well.  Consistent use of his system to get the job done.

So, if you get nothing else out of this blog series, get this.  You have to figure out how to manage your time.  Each person does it differently, so find what works for you and stick with it.  Plug away.  Do it.  That’s all there is to it.

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