There’s a lot of work to being a writer besides, you know, writing. You’ve got to market, promo, be on social media, file your taxes, (find all the receipts you’ve been saving to file your taxes), send something to your critique partner or beta readers, go to writers group meetings, take craft classes and don’t forget to READ. Ack! It can be really overwhelming.
How in the world are we supposed to get all that done and pump out a kick-buns manuscript?
Yep, you read that right. The key to getting taking control of your writing career is – no, not more caffeine, but taking ten to fifteen minute breaks in your writing flurry to let your brain have a break and get your ‘work’ done at the same time.
My first few years of writing I flailed around quite a bit. (Don’t we all.) One year, I’m pretty sure I wrote more words on social media than I did in my current WIP. Woops. Another year, I finished half of four different manuscripts. Not good. I always felt like I didn’t have enough time to write, and there were so many other things I needed to learn or get done if I wanted to have a successful writing career. Ugh.
I knew if I wanted to really make a go of being a full-time writer I needed to focus, stay motivated and get a whole lot more words on the page. My struggles led me to develop a completely new strategy.
I didn’t develop this idea overnight. In fact, it took me two years to really embrace the idea that I really could take care of the business side of being a writer and actually write. But once I started talking with some of my other author friends about what I was thinking and doing they were all very interested in trying it out too. Their enthusiasm inspired me to put all my ideas into business books for writers, and the Coffee Break Guides for Writers were born.
Now, I’m living the dream, getting to write and talk about writing with other writers. So as you continue to read on, hear my voice in your head in a very excited (and slightly nerdy) tone.
Amy’s top five tips to taking control of your writing career
1. Take Career Coffee Breaks
When you sit down to write, schedule your time. Try setting a timer for anywhere from fifteen minutes up to an hour. s a good idea to take a brain break, get up from your desk, grab a drink and stretch at least once an hour. When you do that, take a few minutes of your break to check in on your favorite social media platform, write a section of your business plan or you know, actually read for enjoyment. By the time you’ve finished your coffee (or Mountain Dew or Earl Grey) fifteen minutes or so later, you’ve done a great job on your task it’s time to get back to writing.
2. Pick one thing to be a rock star at today
If you know you need to build your online platform choose one social media platform to be on today and be good at it. If you haven’t written your business plan yet, and it’s looming over you making growling noises, pick one little section, like say, your marketing plan for the next book, and write it. Then tomorrow you can tick something else off your list of to dos. One step on a journey of thousand miles and all that.
3. Focus by having a plan
It’s so easy to scroll through your Facebook newsfeed, get lost in research or spend hours tracking your daily sales, author rank and royalties on that pretty spreadsheet that has become your life (that’s not just me, right?) and the next thing you know it’s two o’clock in the morning and you’ve only written twelve words today because you got lost in a time space continuum (called the internet) for the last five hours Phew!
Well, you’re going to whittle that down to fifteen minutes, set that same timer you use to focus your writing time, if you have to. Know what you want to work on during your coffee breaks before you open your WIP. If you’re having a social media coffee break use the power of three. Three scrolls through to see what’s going on with your friends/followers/fans, three replies/comments and three posts or shares, and make three friends.
4. Do what you like to do and outsource the rest
If you don’t like doing a certain aspect of the writer biz, like say, promo or taxes, don’t force yourself to do those things. I’m not saying ignore and don’t take care of your career, but focus on what you’re good at or like to do and find someone to help you with what you can’t stand doing. I bet you know another writer, friend, relative, best friend’s cousin’s dog groomer’s aunt, who can help you with the parts of your business you don’t like or can’t do yourself. Start with asking around your writers group (and if you don’t have one, oooh, get one!)
For example, I hear from writers all the time that they hate Facebook or Goodreads or Twitter or some other social media network. I love them all! But, I know not everyone does. If you throw up a little bit in your mouth at the thought of tweeting, then don’t. Find what you like and do that. You like to write, maybe blogging is your thing. Like pictures of hot romance heroes? Maybe Pinterest or Tumblr will get your motor running.
Same goes for all the aspects of the biz. If you hate it, you won’t do it anyway and then you’ll just feel guilty. Find a way to work around that. (see number 5)
5. Use your resources wisely
This goes along really well with number four. None of us know how or like to do everything to do with having a writing career, so find somebody who does and make friends. I only know the basics of building a website, but my good friend Diane over at Novel Website Designs does. But Diane, oh, she struggles with social media. So we trade. Every once in a while we get together for coffee and she helps me with my websites and I train her on how to enjoy being on social media and build her platform.
We all develop different skill sets in this line of business. I’ll bet you’re good at something. Yes, you are. If you’re a writer, you’re a reader. So offer to trade beta reading with someone in your local writers that is awesomesauce at promo for some marketing tips.
Do you have questions about the Coffee Break Mentality? I’m happy to answer questions on social media or business plans. One lucky commenter will win a copy of one of the Coffee Break Guides, your choice!
Amy Denim writes business books for writers and contemporary romance. She loves hot heroes (like chefs and cowboys) and curvy intelligent heroines (like chefs and cowgirls.)
Amy started out her writer’s life scared out of her wits because she didn’t have a business plan, hadn’t yet created an online platform, wasn’t on Twitter, didn’t have a Facebook fanpage and had never even heard of Goodreads. She just wrote books. So she spent a year becoming a publishing industry information fiend and now does consulting for creatives on how to use take control of their writing careers. She started Coffee Break Social Media to help writers and artists learn to use SM platforms effectively (without the scare tactics) but still have time to create. She believes business plans and social media can be every writer’s friend, sometimes they just need an introduction.
Visit Amy on her author website at www.AmyDenim.com