Getting Organized So You Can Write That Next Book

Sometimes I feel like I’m being pulled in all four directions—one limb each stretched to the north, south, east, and west—and let me tell you, it can be painful. For a while I was so caught up in the business aspect of publishing I lost focus of why I do this in the first place: I love to tell stories, and I love telling those stories through writing. I had to get organized in order to write Her Loving Husband’s Curse. At the rate I was going, it would never be finished.

When you’re writing your second book after your first book has been released, there’s so much more to do. After Her Dear & Loving Husband was sent out in the world, I had to learn about this thing called publicity. I didn’t know the first thing about author platforms, social media, or blogging. I had never heard of a virtual book tour. I feel as though I’ve completed a six-month crash-course Master’s program in marketing.

While I was reading everything I could find about book publicity, I neglected what I’m really here to do—write, in this case the remaining books in the Loving Husband Trilogy. I thought I would write Book Two over the summer, but I was so occupied with learning about book publishing that, except for a few scenes here and there, I did very little writing at all. I’m not saying that was wasted time since I had a lot to learn. But I needed to balance my time better so I could be successful as both a writer and a publisher. After a few false starts, I did finally get my act together.

How did I do it?

I put myself on a schedule. Now I spend an hour a day on marketing activities, which leaves the rest of my time to write. I love Deborah Riley-Magnus’s suggestion for using a kitchen timer and setting it for thirty minutes or an hour or however much time you have to spend. When the timer goes off, it’s time to write.

I love Facebook and Twitter, but they can eat your time away. With Facebook, I’ve learned to keep it simple. I reply to messages and comments left on my wall. I give myself a few minutes, just a few, to see what my friends are up to and I respond where I can. With Twitter, SocialOomph is a huge help. Where I used to spend thirty minutes or more a day searching for tweets, now I’m able to schedule my tweets every four hours. Whenever I find something tweet-worthy, it takes about three minutes to fill it into my SocialOomph schedule and then I don’t worry about it again. Now I spend about 15 minutes or less on Twitter a day and my tweets cover all the time zones.

I’ve also learned to limit the amount of time I spend reading other blogs. There’s so much good information out there, and I can spend an entire day reading post after post, getting lost in a single blog for hours. Again, I’m not saying that’s wasted time because I’m all for learning from other writers who have gone before and have some knowledge of this brave new world of publishing. But there has to be a limit to how much time you spend perusing other blogs. You need to save yourself time to do your own writing. I’ve come to limit my blog reading to about twenty minutes a day, which works out well. Most posts are short and to the point, and I can usually read several of them in that time. If there are other posts I’d like to read and time’s up, I bookmark them and get to them another time. Finish reading this, then get to work!

If there are queries I have to send (such as requesting book reviews or interviews), I can do that fairly quickly. I make a list of people I need to e-mail so I don’t waste time trying to remember who I wanted to contact or who contacted me. This part takes me fifteen minutes tops, and this isn’t something I have to do every day. I also try to save e-mails for Saturdays when I have more time.

When the hour is gone, when the buzzer goes off, it’s time to write. No more Excuses. Pull up your story, scroll to your next scene, and let your fingers hop across the keypad as you bring your characters to life. And as simple as these organizational tips sound, they work. Since I started scheduling my time I’ve completed over 40,000 words of Her Loving Husband’s Curse in about a month. Not too shabby.