How Routines can Free us from Guilt

One thing with my writing that has been a constant struggle is how to divide my time between marketing and writing new material. Some long-time pros advocate focusing on the new writing, as the best marketing is to publish a new book. I observe other authors who seem to publish a book (or two, or three), then spend all their time marketing and networking. Both approaches can work, but the former begs the question, what good is publishing another book if they’re all invisible? And the latter often makes us cranky, because we got into this because we love to write, not because we love to market.

Clearly, some balance is needed. But after seeing so many marketing ploys either not work for others, or work only when those others have many more books out than me, I sort of gave up on it and focused on learning and writing. And no one was finding my books. Which brought forth all kinds of unhappy thoughts: if no one’s reading, why am I bothering to publish? I really needed to do something to keep my books out there.

I switched gears into marketing this summer. It has helped. I wasn’t happy focusing on that, but I couldn’t mentally switch from new writing to doing marketing each evening.

Isis has no problem with guilt - but is good at inducing it in others!

Isis has no problem with guilt – but is good at inducing it in others!

Then it dawned on me that some advice I saw for balancing the publishing tasks with writing could also work for the marketing: set aside one day a week for that stuff, and write the rest of the week. I’ve been doing this for stuff around the house for years–for example, Monday nights are when I do bill paying and bookkeeping for my husband’s businesses. Anything that comes in during the week goes into my letter sorter, and stays there until Monday. It’s so much more efficient than dealing with each piece of paper the day it comes in–or putting it off, and being late. I’ve read variations of this before, so I don’t know why I never tried it–until now.

Last week, I devoted Sunday to writing my blog, doing website stuff, and getting through a couple things on my marketing list. I didn’t plan to write that day, so no guilt there. And I got a lot done, in addition to the usual household stuff I do on Sunday.

I also did no writing on Monday, which is typical since that’s bookkeeping day. But I did write every other day this week, and again–no guilt over not doing any of the other tasks.

So we’re going to stick with this plan for the time being, and adjust if it doesn’t work. One catch is that sometimes Sundays are taken up by other things, like family get-togethers. I have one of those coming up next week. So on those days, I’ll just pare down my usual list to maybe one item that can easily be done after I get home, and ditch the guilt.

What I read this week: I’m only about halfway through this novel, so I’ll blog about it after I finish.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: Last week’s goal was to write 5,000 words on the novella, plus do 3-5 items on the marketing/website list. I added 7500 words to the novella (though admittedly, some of those were copy/paste from my outline), plus I updated my headers on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, and set up a special offer for my newsletter readers, and sent out a newsletter. Speaking of which, anyone is welcome to sign up for that, which you can do here. I also received my upcoming novel back from my editor, so making the edits is my writing priority for this week. In addition, I’ll complete another 3-5 items from my website/marketing list today.

What about you–do you have certain tasks you delegate to certain days? Or do you try to do a little each day? If you don’t, do you get a bad case of the “shoulds,” or is it just me? What are some routines or time-management tips that have helped you? And how are you doing on whatever goals you might have? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

10 Responses to \

  1. Yeah, it seems like I’m always seeking a new balance between marketing and writing too. 🙂 But from the things I’ve tried, I would agree with you that 1 day a week is a good way to limit the possibility of getting lost in marketing.

    Congrats on the words, and good luck with your new plan!

  2. For the last year, I’ve done no marketing at all, due to family stuff that limited my time at the computer. So I chose to use what little time I did have to focus on the writing. It was kind of liberating! And once I accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to be online, I began to enjoy the lack of pressure. Now that I’m back online — sort of — I’m taking baby steps toward marketing and online time toward something that feels more authentic. Not sure where it will all wash out. 🙂

  3. I bet there are very few writers out there who enjoy the marketing end of things. Believe it or not, I originally started out in college majoring in advertising and public relations. Bleah! What was I thinking? I hated it then and I hate it even more now! No wonder I never graduated.

    Anyway, I agree that there needs to be a happy medium between writing and promotion. I haven’t found that balance yet, but maybe I should try just doing the marketing one day a week instead of getting bogged down by it nearly every day.

    Best wishes for a productive week.

  4. Sometimes you’re just too hard on yourself kiddo. I like routine as well, but you can’t get bummed if things don’t go “according to plan.” Good intentions count for something.

    Hang in there and keep sticking to that routine. Whatever works.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  5. When I was on unemployment, I saved the unpleasant task of searching for jobs (and filing paperwork) on Monday. Certainly made my Mondays worse, but they were bad anyway. So glad that’s over with. Well, except for the income. I do miss that.

    As for my writing, I find I write better after my shower. So I do all my social media stuff first. Doesn’t stop me from doing it later, but once I get in the writing zone, it’s not a distraction. I know none of that helps you, since you work full-time. When I worked full-time, I wrote when I got home (if I didn’t write at work–and if it was slow at work, I wrote!).

    Of course, my writing may come to a stand still on Wednesday, when I head on down to Atlanta for Dragon*Con. Writing in a hotel room with 2 other people is almost impossible, so I doubt I even try. Plus, I’m down there to see celebrities and stuff, not write. I doubt I even get much reading done. Even standing in line for a panel can be entertaining when all these costumed people walk past!

  6. Ruth, thanks! It has helped a lot.

    Sheila, I did the same thing, and now am getting back to the promo again. Good luck with yours!

    Chris, so true! Good luck finding your happy medium!

    Patricia, this is helping me to not be hard on myself. Now I don’t feel guilty for not doing one or the other, and just do what I reasonably can.

    Stacy, on the weekends I don’t do much before a shower either. Have fun at Dragon*Con!

  7. Just popping by for a quick how’d ya do. In less than 48 hours, I’ll be winging my way to the UK for my eldest’s wedding. Kind of mind-boggling. I hope to get a newsletter set up after I get back, but it will likely take awhile to get ahead of the work that is sure to pile up while I’m gone. Kudos on your accomplishments! They’re inspiring. All the best with your ongoing ROW80 goals. Mine are, for the next three weeks, on hold . . . except I do hope to get some reading and writing done while I’m in the air (and in the airport waiting to fly across the Pond). TTFN

  8. I have been trying that this year with mixed sucess – but when I get into the way of things I think it will make life easier – I’m just never good with routines:(

    all the best with your week:)

  9. Steph, sometimes the goals need to be put on hold. Enjoy your trip and the wedding!

    Alberta, perhaps you’re one of those who are more spontaneous? The trick is finding what works for us. Good luck with yours!

  10. You know I learn an awful lot from you Jennette. I can’t thank you enough for publishing your success, frustrations and even failures at times. We all can learn from them and I appreciate your honesty. I can imagine it may not be easy to put yourself out there when you’re not happy with your efforts and marketing. It’s hard to do it all. But I think you’ve arrived at a good schedule that should prove successful. And don’t let Isis intimidate you with that look! She is something else. lol. 🙂