November 14th, 2007
Author Preparedness

This will probably be my last big blog entry for a while. I plan to take an internet break for a few days. If I don’t manage to blog before Thanksgiving, I hope everyone who celebrates the holiday has a nice one. 🙂

I’ve been thinking a lot about author preparedness lately. (ie how to stay on top or preferably get ahead in your career) I admit it’s certainly not an easy task. So many things go into being prepared. You have to meet your deadlines, put together proposals, promote, etc. The key is definitely multi-tasking. The question is how can you do that, if you aren’t a natural multi-tasker when it comes to writing?

I find myself in this particular situation. I have a book due in March. So far I only have fifty or so pages written on it. Not a lot. Not enough. But I will get the book finished on time, even if I have to open a vein. *ggg* This is not how I want to spend the next few years of my career. I would much rather be prepared/organized. There is no reason why (barring unexpected life changes) I should not be able to work ahead of the curve.

So what is it going to take to make these changes?

It’s looking more and more like I’m going to have to set up a writing/working schedule. Particularly since I don’t do well working on multiple projects at the same time. That is the only way I can see it working for the long term. I’m not sure yet what that schedule is going to look like. It may take me trying a few different schedules to figure out which one works best. But I have to do something because what I’ve been doing isn’t working for me any more.

Do you have a work schedule? If so, what is it? Does it work for you or do you need to change it? If you don’t, why not?

18 comments to “Author Preparedness”

  1. I write in between jobs at the shop all week, and then in the mornings from 5AM till around ten or eleven on the weekends, depending on how many house repairs lay ahead of me. 🙂 This works for me as a hack. If I sell something, and deadlines like you face start cropping up, I may be in trouble. Off topic, Jordan, how much of your time was taken up in promoting past novels, and how much time do you foresee being lost in promotions on your books for Tor?

  2. One thing I do is write in a variety of ways. There are days when I have too much to do, or am just coming out of my skin and I can’t stand the thought of sitting at my computer. On those days, I take my digital recorder, slap on my headset/mike and go for a walk while I dictate. Often I find I dictate a chapter on a half hour walk. Now, transcribing that chapter doesn’t take that much work and I can do it while wtaching TV so I still get the work done without feeling trapped, restless, liek I’m neglecting housework, etc.

    Some days my attention span is poor so I just do pick dcitating. IOW, I dictate into my computer (VRS) in short fifteen minute spurts. By the time I go to bed I’ll have a chapter done.

    And then there are the days when I the words tumble from me in an endless flow i I just sit and type for 8-9 hours.

    Pretty much, I just try to adapt the way I get the book out to my mood and energy level. Doing that seems to free my muse when otherwise I’d just be stuck and unproductive.

  3. Bernard, That sounds like a pretty decent schedule. You’re right that it may change once you get a deadline.

    I embarrassed to say that I haven’t done a lot of promotions up to this point (ie a few ads, a couple of interviews, activity on reader boards, etc.). I foresee it changing quite a bit on this next series because I’m doing promotion with Claire Delacroix. She has a near-future series coming out the month before mine, so we’re joining forces. There will be ads both online and off. Plus, I’ll be attending a bunch (4 or so) of conferences to promote the series, including BEA in L.A. I will also be sending ARC’s to Australia way ahead of time in hopes that they like the book and want to pre-order. I’m going to launch a MySpace page and redo my website. We’ve put together a marketing plan that I hope will work out. My guess is I’ll spend at least an hour a day on promo next year. 2008 is going to be an expensive year for me career-wise, but hopefully it’ll pay off in the long run. 🙂

  4. Sarah, That’s interesting. I recently started taking a little recorder with me on my walks to work on scenes. It’s been a nice change of pace. I’m sure having a headset would help the process even more. I may have to look into that idea. Thanks Sarah!!! 😀

  5. I’m not sure you need a headset. Mine is a dictating recorder. It’s voice activated and it drowns out background noise like the cars and only picks up voice sound hence the need for the head set. I do like that I can whisper so I don’t worry that anyone will over hear and it plays back loudly, but I don’t think a headset is necessary.

  6. Sarah, Oh wow, that’s very cool. Could you please send me an email with the info? I’d love to get something like that set up. 🙂

  7. I have a sort of schedule, but find I must keep it flexible. Too many variables seem to intrude when I try to be too strict with myself, but I do my best. Working on a late shift means coming home, regrouping, actually eating a meal, then trying to work into the wee hours. If I’m tired or it’s been a rough work day, it’s not good. But I’m totally brain-dead in the mornings, so I just make do.

    Like the idea of the dictating recorder & have one, but not crazy about the sound of my voice, lol.

  8. Raine, Working full time requires flexability. I totally understand. You need to work on that voice thing. 😉

  9. I TOTALLY recommend setting a pretty strict writing schedule. Over my 7 years of working as a writer (freelancing, and now writing for a Web site and doing my own writing too), I’ve learned it’s absolutely necessary for me to stick to a schedule. Otherwise, I just won’t do it. I’ll go to lunch with a friend/go to the gym/take a nap/hit the bookstore/whatever, unless I really respect my schedule. Other people start to respect your time more, too, once you have set working hours. At first they act kind of miffed that you can’t meet them for coffee because you’re writing. They think you can just shift things around, and theoretically, that’s true. But it’s all about the power of prioritizing your writing. On that note, schedule your writing in the morning. Then you’ll feel great all day, knowing you got it done and it’s not hanging over your head (till tomorrow, that is).

  10. I have a hard time writing on a strict schedule, though I’ve gotten better at it. What it came down to for me was to spread out my deadlines better. There is such pressure to put books out quickly and keep your name out there, but as I’m discovering, too much pressure makes the writing suffer because I’m not having fun.

    I started writing because I love it, and I don’t want to lose that love, you know?

  11. Larissa’s right! And I like the idea of a recorder too…was just thinking about it last night as a matter of fact!! I dont have a great schedule though I do try to write more when the boys are gone and I get some free time at work. I need to do better overall and…on another note Jordan I got a postcard for Claire’s new series at RWA and I have to say, if you can judge a book by it’s cover, it’s going to rock!!

  12. What Larissa said. I can’t really change my working times, because I work around kids, but I’ve had to start working differently (i.e. changing my process), so I need to build more time into the schedule for proposals, working on future projects, and generally allowing for Things To Go Wrong.

  13. I still have the EDJ (evil day job), so I get my writing done early. Typically, I get up at 5:00 a.m. and get at least 1K of new words. Then in the evening after monsters are in bed, I work on worldbuilding or editing a different project. With NaNo this month, I’m getting up earlier and using any evening time to eek out another couple of hundred words. I have a list of projects that I re-evaluate monthly to adjust priorities. So far, the only thing I think I’ll miss this year is a second draft of the Fast Draft project I did back in March. (It’s a mess!)

  14. Catherine, I definitely agree about having a schedule of some kind. I would lve to be a morning writer, but it isn’t going to happen. I am SO not a morning person. *ggg* I’ll probably try to get the exercise out of the way instead. 😉

  15. Larissa, I hear you. I’ve done the same thing. I know I ‘could’ write faster, but I’m not going to for now. I need the time to enjoy the books. I can’t do that if I’m plowing through them.

  16. Amie, I’m looking forward to trying the recorder. It’ll be a nice way to shake things up. As for writing around kids, I think that schedule has to stay loose. You just do the best that you can. Very cool about Claire’s postcard. I haven’t seen her cover yet. Glad it’s cool. 🙂 Heck, I haven’t even seen any of mine and I have one book coming out in four months. LOL!

  17. Charli, Those are all really good points and something I’m currently working on myself. I haven’t built in time for anything, but the book going wrong. I need to schedule the other items too. Can’t get ahead otherwise. :/

  18. Wow Joely, that’s truly organized. I’m nowhere near that level of together. 😉 I really need to change that and fast.