It has been three months since I started my Full-Time author adventure. Here are a few lessons that I have learned.
1) You control your own destiny…mostly
I have a problem of making lofty goals. Q1 of being a full-time author was no different. I worked my tail off and still didn’t make them. Most of that is my fault, but there were some unforeseen circumstances. My editor, and good friend, had also made some lofty goals for her Q1, her life exploded a little bit and chaos ensued. Which meant one goal that I could have accomplished didn’t get finished because she was unable to get my book edited in her usual timeframe.
I can’t point fingers, it’s just life.
2) You have to treat it like a real job
Everyone told me this before I went full-time, and while I believed it and thought I understood it, I didn’t. I still don’t, but I’m getting there.
The best thing I did for this is to make a daily schedule for myself. It’s not set in stone, but the first two or three things in the morning, including exercise, really set my mood for the rest of the day. Sitting down at my computer and typing in my journal for a few minutes allows me to get into the writing mindset, and then into the groove.
Each morning I also sit down and make my to-do list for the day. I tried doing that the night before, but kept forgetting, so now I do it in the morning.
3) Break it down, break it down, break it down
Besides making daily to do lists, I found it helpful to take Friday afternoon or Monday morning to make a to do list for the week ahead. Sometimes the list looks daunting, but if I need to get 10k written on a project before the coming Friday, then I can look at everything I need to do and work it all into the schedule.
This week, for instance, I need to finish an outline I’ve been working on. Which sounds daunting, I’m not going to lie, but if I break it down into smaller chunks, it’s more likely I’ll get it finished. Today I’ll work on the main character’s flaw/problem and how she is going to change by the end of the story. Tomorrow I’ll do the same for a few of the side characters. The next day I’ll start working on my outline beats, and hopefully a day or two after that, I’ll be finished.
4) Having a hard time concentrating? Leave your house.
As most of you know, my hubby got laid off in January, so he was home for a couple of weeks. And even when he’s “hiding in his office not making a sound and pretending he doesn’t exist” it’s distracting to have him at home. Also, about 10:30am each morning I feel the urge to take a nap. Every time I get up my mind says I need a snack. And let’s not even start with the internet.
There’s a Barnes and Noble not too far away, and I tend to go there if I’m dawdling too much. I know several authors who do all of their creating time somewhere besides their home. Others have one computer for writing and another for business stuff. Some have separate offices. I don’t have the space for that, but I can go somewhere else.
5) The unexpected can be good
One reason several of my Q1 goals got pushed back was that I received an invitation to participate in a boxed set of fairy tale retellings. I won’t spoil the surprise, but it was a nice invitation from some great ladies that I know. It took me twenty or so hours to outline, write and edit the story, so while that wasn’t originally part of my Q1 goals, it should be fun.
I also entered several Flash Fiction contests, which I wasn’t planning on. All good things, but unexpected.
Q1 didn’t turn out like I wanted it to, but maybe the most important lesson I was reminded of is to focus on the positive! Whatever you’re doing, keep going and don’t give up!