Before we can make any plans for the future of our writing career, we have to assess our capabilities as a writer, editor, publisher, and marketer. Are you the kind of writer who can write a book a month every month? Can you write while you market? Can you write while you edit? Can you edit while you publish?
Do you remember the negative talk conversation we had? When we build a schedule we can’t maintain, we invite negative talk into our daily routine. When I say “daily routine,” I mean our hourly one. We invite that voice who hates us the most to tell us how stupid we are on an hourly basis.
That’s not healthy in many ways. That negative voice then disrupts the productivity of our schedule, the finesse of our budget, the energy in our daily routines, and the time we spend with our family.
HOW DOES SCHEDULING REALLY IMPACT MY CAREER?
The sustainably successful authors are the ones who have the habit foundation system to continually support their publishing business. I’ve said it once. I’ll say it a million times.
But what does that look like?
Let’s say that an author has this schedule:
6:30 a.m. Get up, get coffee, feed and walk the dog.
6:45 a.m. Review notes from last writing session. Review and tweak outline.
7:00 a.m. Write
9:00 a.m. Review writing session. Clean up dictation errors while it’s still fresh.
10:00 a.m. Take a break
10:15 a.m. Review marketing notes from last session. Review and tweak plan.
10:30 a.m. Market
11:00 a.m. Edit next book.
12:00 p.m. Work out.
12:30 p.m. Lunch Break
1:00 p.m. Format/website maintenance/blog post
3:00 p.m. Done
This is my dream schedule, by the way. This is what I’m shooting for at some point in my life. It would be amazing.
But let’s say for funzies that during her “preparing” time, her kid comes in because she can’t find her sock or her husband comes in because he can’t find the keys he had last but coulda swore you had last. Or her teenager informs her that the microwave doesn’t work and now the world is ending. Or her cat decides that the treats you gave him this time were the wrong kind and he yacks in her slipper.
I’m a firefighter. I chase each of those until the people I support have no more excuses.
Or I used to.
Let me tell you something. They don't appreciate the fact that I don't put out their fires for them. And they're pretty cruel about it at times.
However, when I was putting out fires of their making that they could have put out themselves, I didn't have the time to write. Some of these people were family, kids, cats, friends, clients. They all "supported" me, but they also didn't truly respect that my career needed its own time. They weren't in the habit of taking care of themselves. They were in the habit of allowing me to take care of them instead.
The sustainably successful authors have made their routine a habit. The people in their lives have developed habits as well, habits of self-sustainability. Healthy interdependence.
It’s not easy. I know that. I do. Trust me. I know that.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I FAIL TO MAINTAIN MY SCHEDULE BY NOT MAKING THE WRITE HABITS?
When you continually allow others to derail your schedule, you fail to meet schedule. But what does that mean?
You’re not getting your book to the rest of your team on time.
When you fail to get to them on time, they then have to manage your project by jamming it into their schedule on top of other clients.
Or they have to push other clients’ projects back to fit yours in.
You force them to spend more of their energy pennies faster and they burn out.
You’re not getting your book to your reader.
Your reader looses their trust in your ability to write consistently.
They are not going to continue to invest in your marketing campaigns.
They lose interest in you and forget about you.
They unsubscribe or, worse, mark your newsletters as spam and do not read what you have to say because you’re not producing anything they care about.
They put you to the spam email.
You break your budget.
Services and marketing campaigns might cost more.
You might have to pay expedite fees.
You might have to find new service providers because they dropped you for failing to pay the invoice they planned to be fulfilled to be able to pay their bills.
You damage your health by adding undue stress to yourself.
Stress does damage to the body and to the decision making portions of your brain.
You might eat unhealthy foods to maintain energy to “make up” lost time.
You lose sleep.
You fail to work out.
Your relationship with your friends and family suffer because of the stress you’re putting on yourself is the same stress they’re feeling.
HOW DO I GET THE RIGHT INFORMATION TO CREATE A SCHEDULE THAT WILL WORK FOR ME?
Document what you do.
Document how long it takes you to do a task and how productive—how many words, pages, articles, etc—you were.
Document what distractions you had.
Then, review on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis what you can do to make yourself more productive without killing yourself.
Once you have metrics—good, solid data—on what you can sustainably produce and manage, then create a schedule.
Document, document, document.
Share with everyone else what some of your distractions are and see if they have solutions that might help.