Editor’s note: This is the first in a weekly series in which I quickly discuss my writing life. Topics will vary, and I’m not ever trying to provide a one-size-fits-all answer or approach.
There’s a contingent of authors who believe that any day when you don’t write or edit is a day wasted.
First, I don’t like to speak in superlatives. Second, life gives us all enough reasons to worry and feel anxious. There’s no need to do it to ourselves.
But there is also truth to the notion that taking a long hiatus from your manuscript can dam creative flow — and, for some writers, may make them afraid to face the blinking cursor again — which is probably why some prescribe the write-every-day-or-die cure.
For me, the better answer has been to develop routines that keep me writing more days than not.
I use the plural because our situations can change, which was true even before the pandemic. We change day jobs. We find a way to ditch the day job and write full time, but we still have to take time to do research before each new project. Or we do some kind of hybrid.
And, hopefully, we have to travel a bit to promote our books and/or attend writing conferences.
As with most things in life, the simpler the process, the easier to follow. So here’s what I do: I work on my current manuscript during the weekdays, and I work on marketing on the weekends.
This is achieved through the magic of post scheduling. For instance, I wrote this on Sunday, April 19. I also count developing my future marketing calendars, designing graphics for social media and this website, and writing my newsletters. Plus more I’m probably missing.
I do a bit of social media every day when my brain needs a break from writing. If I’m on the road, I don’t worry about contributing to my manuscript or my marketing efforts. I’m having fun and learning, and those are necessary parts of the process, too.
This routine developed after failed attempts and changing course when I didn’t feel things were working. And it will change in the summer, when I begin researching and prospecting new projects and (depending on the pandemic) attending book signings and other events to promote my July 4 release.
My precise routine won’t work for everyone, and I am not trying to prescribe anything. But if you’re thinking about shaking things up, or maybe just getting started, I think these principles may help:
- Don’t feel anxious or get discouraged if you don’t write every day
- Work on your manuscript(s) more often than not
- Develop a set of routines that work for different periods in your life
- Keep your routines as simple as possible
- Be agile and willing to tweak a routine when needed
Above all, we should be writing because we’re passionate and enjoy it, so your routine should do everything to maximize that enjoyment.