The Write Stuff: Plan Z Author?

As a writer, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Ok.  A LOT of times. Life happens. Schedules change. Illness strikes at the WORST possible moment. We can’t always plan for the unknown but we can have strategies in place to help minimize the stress these shifts can make when we have deadlines to meet.

As a mom, wife and full time writer, it is insanely easy to let my priorities slip. Working for home seems like a dream. The only problem is that my office and Facebook don’t have a closing time. So how can authors keep up the juggling act of marketing, writing, editing and publication in this crazy world? Here are a few tips that help me.  (FYI I’m a bit of a control freak so some of these tips might seem outrageous to you…and they probably are but it’s how I roll!)

Back-Up Plan Life Preserver Words Alternate Planning B

  • Yearly goals broken down into months.  Everyone should have a goal, even if that goal is to write 1 book or 10. Seeing on paper what you want to accomplish makes it easier to compartmentalize what needs to be done otherwise we will hop on Facebook first thing to see if anyone still loves us and BAM it’s noon already!  Be specific in your goals. Write down the steps it will take to reach them and make sure they are REALISTIC!  There is nothing worse than piling your plate full and then watching it teeter into depression inducing oblivion.
  • Get a calendar. I won’t mention how many I use on a daily basis (You’ll think I’m REALLY a control freak!) but I highly recommend getting at least one with plenty of space to make notes. I love desk calendars for their massive amounts of room to write. Some people prefer calendar books that fit best in a purse or pocket. The key is to get what you will use. Map out your release schedule…even if it is only one!  Then using a different ink (my calendars usually look like pretty rainbows!) and consider how long you will need for edits, both professional and personal, marketing and writing time.  Being able to look at your day already planned out removes the stress of “What next?”plan a
  • Pick specific days that you will focus on marketing, blogging and writing. Each have their place in creating an author platform and all are equally important but it is very easy for your writing time to lose out to marketing. I personally suggest a 75/25 split between writing your next book and telling people about you current one.  Ensure that you have time to get those words down on the pages.
  • Schedule your posts.  Do you have an author Facebook page but don’t have time to keep up?  Choose to schedule your posts in advance so that you are able to interact with people on a regular basis.
  • Link your blog to social media.  Do you have something to say that people need to know about?  Blogs can be just as crucial in an author’s tool belt as a newsletter or direct mailing list.
  • Don’t expect too much.  You could literally spend ALL of your time on social media, pinterest or email and still never reach your goal of hitting a certain following. Set small goals…maybe 15 new followers/fans per week and be grateful if you only hit 10.  That is 10 more than you had the week before.
  • Don’t strive (or pay) for empty likes or followers.  You want to reach readers, bloggers and network with people who aren’t jut looking for a free gift card.  Offer swag or giveaways that are reader focused (bookmarks, ebooks, signed swag, signed paperbacks, etc)
  • Learn to say no.  There are a TON of amazing book signings, giveaways, fb events and more going on every week but that doesn’t mean you should take part.  Getting your name out there and recognized is important but so is your sanity.  Decide what your breaking point is and stay away from it!
  • Embrace a writing cave mentality.  Go to your office, couch, bedroom and shut the world out. Turn off the wifi. Put your phone on silent. Pop on headphones or earplugs and just write. Emerge only when your stomach is eating itself or the call of nature is simply too strong to bear a moment longer.
  • Don’t sweat life.  Things happen and deadlines can be shifted or broken if necessary. Readers understand. They are people too and they probably had the stomach flu right before you did!flip flop
  • Breaks are not only healthy…they are a must! We authors tend to spend a heck of a lot of time in our own heads.  We see our characters as real people but they aren’t. Especially not the hot hero types! Real people are vital to our sanity and inspiration.  As an introvert I am FAR more comfortable with my imaginary characters but even I go stir crazy after a while.
  • And even though there are a million and one other tips I could give the biggest is to remember that health is key. We sit behind our screens all day long using our brains while our waistlines seems to expand at the speed of light. Get up. Take a walk. Take a shower! If you are like me its the time I spend away from my computer that spark the best ideas!

Not everyone is born to be a planner.  Some like to take things by the seat of the pants and go with the flow, but without a plan it is far too easy to let time slip through our fingers. Take time today and write a small to-do list and work on getting each task done in your time allotted.  It will help to give you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day instead of feeling overwhelmed by the mountain of marketing staring you down!

“When you treat your writing more like a business than a hobby, people will begin to treat you more like the professional author you want to be.” ~ Amy Miles

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