Protect Your Writing Time
I’m taking a little sidestep away from my regular blog to let you all have a peek into my life, my career, and what it takes to earn a living wage as an author. There are so many misconceptions out there about being an author, and it may surprise you to know that very few authors are able to quit their day jobs and make a full-time living by writing books.
Why is that? If you talk to the authors who are making a full-time income, which I am, what we all will tell you is that you have to work your butt off to stay front and center with your fans in a market that’s now oversaturated. Our fans, just like us, are inundated with social media, newsletters, and distractions, but as authors, we have to always be on the cusp and keep up with an ever-changing industry. What worked two months ago to sell books doesn’t work today, and one of the most daunting things for authors who love to write is learning the business side of writing. That means it’s up to an author to market their books and make social media their best friend, which can take more time than actually writing a book.
I’ve been doing this for a number of years, and what it takes for me to write a book is three weeks with no disruptions. Did you like that phrase? I’m going to say it again: NO DISRUPTIONS! Are you laughing yet? You should be, because this is the one area where I had to become seriously direct with a good many people. No disruptions is key, but let me tell you, it’s the one concept many don’t seem to get. One of the things that has been an ongoing issue is the fact that I work from home, and therefore others seem to believe I am accessible. Now, some of you may understand this if you work for yourself and work from home. Many people believe that if you work from home, you’re not really working and are available to drop anything at a moment’s notice. Not true! If you look at someone who has a nine-to-five job, whatever or wherever it is, this same notion doesn’t apply. You wouldn’t consider walking into someone’s office and interrupting them when they’re in the middle of a meeting to ask for something. Why? Great question! This is why I’ve had to be very direct about my writing time.
My working time starts the moment I get out of bed. With three kids, I’ve had to schedule what I do around them, but for others in the community, I’ve been very clear: I work during the day, seven days a week, and I’m not available. My cell phone is never on unless I leave the island, so those people who are into texting know I’ll never respond. I don’t text even though it has become the main source of communication for everyone. I never got on board. My emails and notifications are turned off when I’m writing. I take time in the afternoon to check my email, but never in the morning unless I’m in the middle of a major promotion—which, yes, I run a few every month. Mornings are my most productive time, when I can accomplish far more than at any other point of the day. Do I multitask? No, because multitasking is not an asset. It means you’re doing too many things and are not at your best.
What’s key now is that an author has to put out books, and you have to continue to market your backlist titles or they’ll die a slow death. Unless you’re writing a book a month or at least every two, you’re going to find your income drying up. It’s a frightening thing for many authors who at one time made a really decent income, so much so that now, many are finding they have to write more, put out more books, to make what they were two or three years ago.
So how do you go about protecting your writing time, protecting your working time? You need to dial it in, focus, and eliminate all distractions, because distractions of any kind are the death of a writer. Over the past few months alone, I’ve heard everything from “Oh, we just need a second for you to come and pick this up,” to “Can you just stop in and sign something?” to “We’re retired and have shopping to do, so can you bring something over to us at exactly this time?” to “Can you help my friend who’s struggling as an author?” Or maybe you have maintenance issues like I had all winter. After the windstorm from hell, we were snowed in with no power and freezing temps. Then we had a broken deep well pump and discovered that all kinds of corners had been cut on the plumbing in our home, which created a nightmare situation in which our water was off and on all winter.
It’s just one of those things. You have to learn to be direct and say, “Fix it right the first time, because I’m working. I’m writing.” Schedule your appointments for after you finish your book, not during the day, and never during your writing time. Shut your phone off, your email, your social media notifications. Get your daily word count done, and then focus on your marketing, on selling your books. If you have an assistant, you still need to make sure they get the media kit and all the information for the books on sale that week, your new releases, and your ads. Most importantly, still make time for your family.
Do I love what I do? Absolutely, without a doubt. I love being a writer, and once you learn to say no to people and develop really strong boundaries to protect your writing time, your working time, you’ll find you’re able to accomplish far more.
What’s coming next? March 31 is release day for Michael Friessen’s book, You Are My Everything, and it’s going to be good! While on a trip to Vegas for his twenty-first birthday celebration, just him and the guys, Michael wakes up with a ring on his finger and a sexy blonde asleep beside him. He finds himself in a whole lot of trouble, all because of a night he’s still trying to remember. Pre-order from all retailers, and all pre-orders include a link to a FREE short story.
Follow Neil and Candy in THE BUSINESS PLAN (The Friessens, Book 4), 99cents through tomorrow!
Neil Friessen has almost everything he’s ever wanted:
His wife, the woman he’s always loved…
His children, whom he never believed he would have…
And an empty bank account.
Until one day, that is, when he comes up with the business plan.
"This is a great 'feel good' read and a heartwarming love story of the strength and love of family." ★★★★★ DEB, Amazon Reviewer
Now 99cents at Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Kobo and GooglePlay.
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