Here lately, I feel like I’m trying to walk a tightrope, but the weights hanging on the ends of the pole aren’t even close to even. Promotion of the work I’ve already done seems to suck up all my time, leaving me with little time and creative energy for creating new work. Given that I also have a day job and family, any advice on finding a good work flow when you’re being pulled in more than one direction?
Oh, isn’t that the question?! I know this is a struggle for many and it is for me too. I may not have a day job or be promoting a book just yet but I spend a good amount of time promoting this blog and my workshops, and approximately 97.35% of my day wrangling monkeys, so I know how you feel. Thankfully (ignore my husband yelling in the background), I’m kind of an organization-aholic so I’ve come with a system that works pretty well for me.
First, start by forgiving yourself. I know all too well the struggle you’re speaking of and I know the guilt and stress and frustration it can cause. The problem is, guilt and stress and frustration are not conducive to being creative when you do finally get the chance to sit down and write. Try to let go of all that so you can be as productive as possible during the periods of your day that you get to dedicate to your writing career.
Second, I think it’s important to set realistic expectations. In our culture today, there is the mindset of never enough. There is never enough time, never enough money. You can’t get your work out there fast enough or sell enough copies. The thing is, you only have so many hours in the day–you know this. So set realistic expectations of what you can accomplish and…let that be enough. With a day job and a family to take care of, you’ll probably never be able to accomplish as much as you want to. But I think everyone feels that way, no matter how much or little time they have. “Enough” is a mindset that has to be cultivated. (The ironic part is that in my own life, cultivating the “enough” mindset has allowed me to be the most productive I’ve ever been in my life with the same amount of time.)
To decide what “enough” will look like for you, take a good look at your daily routines and figure out how much time you really have. Where do you lose time that you could better optimize? Do you have a lunch break when you could write or do some social media while you eat? Could you wake up an hour earlier to write before you leave for work? What about blogging at the table while your kids do their homework? Could you limit TV and reading time to make more time for writing promotion copy? I’m certainly not suggesting you cut out all things fun and replace it with work. If anything, self-care should be your top priority, especially to promote creativity. But look for any pockets of time you could use to your advantage. Being creative with my schedule has been my saving grace many times when I have a lot on my plate.
Once you figure out where you can create time for yourself, build a schedule. For instance, if you’re able to carve out two hours a day to dedicate to your writing career, split it in half–one hour for promotion and one hour for writing. Maybe you write before work and then do promo at lunch time, or on the couch next to your husband while he watches The Walking Dead. Or maybe you do promo while you drink your morning coffee and then write at night after everyone has gone to sleep. It will take time and experimentation to create the most optimal schedule so don’t be afraid to play around with it. There will likely be sacrifices and I know that’s not ideal, but this is the hand writers have been dealt these days so the best we can hope for is to do the best we can with as much kindness to ourselves as possible.
Finally, find a system for keeping track of your to-do list. The deeper you get into your career, the more balls there are to juggle. There may be your blog, guest blogs, and articles to write. There may be advertising campaigns and Amazon configurations to schedule. There could be book clubs to attend and interviews questions to respond to. There will definitely more books to write and edit. Using a task management system (I use Asana) will help you track deadlines for all these things so you always know what’s next–instead of using your working time to figure that out!–and so you can dedicate all your brain power to your creative endeavors.
To 26 hours in a day,