Digging Out of Distraction: The Chunk Schedule Solution
I’m a hybrid author who is transitioning to a full independent published career. I like the control I have over my time as well as ascertaining if my marketing efforts are generating results. However, the more I move into indie publishing, the more I have to do to get my books into people e-readers.
And there is a lot of competition for those readers. Reaching them takes time, money, and creative skills. So, in addition to writing, revising, and publishing my novels, I also have to create ads, connect with readers on social media, maintain a newsletter for my followers, and keep track of all the expenses, results, non-results… the list is endless. Plus, I am also a freelance content editor which means generating contracts, editing my clients’ work, coordinating payments to my co-editor and keep track of all the information and finances. Layer in two critique partners who need my eagle eye in exchange for their input and I’ve got a lot on my to-do list.
Too much. I’ve been attempting to find a way to schedule it all in all the time. End result? Didn’t work for me and my focus scattered. If I am marketing, concentrating on my writing goes to hell. Period. And if I’m editing someone’s work, my own work takes a hit. Some of this stuff has to happen when it occurs: client contacts us and we have to respond with a yes/no, here’s the contract, etc.
During the summer, I discovered something about my work style: I do better if I can focus on the task at hand 100%. Around the same time, New York Times Bestselling author, Skye Warren, shared her four hour day workday method. Four hours of dedicated time in the chair writing or marketing or whatever task you need to do for your business until you complete the task. You can read more about her methods by subscribing to her newsletter. I do and it’s a great resource.
Rather than work four hours in a row, I sometimes tell myself 4 hours in the chair and you’re done. I workout in the mornings, then I come home and put my time in for whatever I am focusing on. I also put the bulk of all my efforts into the project while devoting less time after I’ve completed my task to other activities such as checking emails, popping into my social media sites, or checking sales figures.
The writing does come first. Repeat after me: books sell more books. That’s the number one marketing tool I have in my arsenal. Everything else is next. So how does my Chunk Schedule work?
Let’s take a look at my recent month of writing and work. I had a first draft to wrap up and send to my critique partners, Carmen Falcone and Pam Mantovani. My four hour day was devoted to completing that task. Period. Once I sent the manuscript to my CPs, I used my four hour day to develop AMS ads and experiment with them to see if I could reach readers. I spent about two or three days handling that only, then I devoted all my four hour days to revising another story which I sent off last week.
Now my four hour day is dedicated to catching up on all my marketing, social media, and composing my blogs. Once those tasks are completed, I will begin pre-planning the second novel in my brand new series. This includes character development, story/plot points mapped out, writing back cover copy and setting up my beat sheet. All of these tasks are very portable as I have the resources online and ebook versions of my print craft books on my reading apps. This will begin while I’m traveling to see my daughter.
By telling myself it’s okay to put all my energy into blogging now, I am liberating myself from twin monsters: guilt and pressure. That’s a win-win for me!
I keep a calendar at home along with an Erin Condren vertical planner that doesn’t have stickers, but is filled with my project deadlines and more. This is my traveling schedule. I use it for everything. Seeing on paper is more immediate and keeps me on task. This doesn’t mean things don’t slide to the following week, but I tend to accomplish most of what I intend to do.
I really like this way of working and writing. You can adjust this type of schedule easily based on whether you have a dreaded day job or little ones to take care of or BOTH.
Plus, in all of this is a thing called having a life. All work and writing and stressing about marketing makes for an extremely dull life. I have a full one with friends, family, travel, dining out, reading, going to movies, binge watching Hallmark Channel movies and more. I don’t want to live in a box. How can I write about people who are real and 3 dimensional if I don’t get out and play? I need social interactions, quality ones, and time to regenerate my creative soul.
I finally feel like I have a handle on how to organize my schedule in a manageable and realistic way. If you’re feeling stressed out by trying to do it all, maybe my chunk schedule solution is something that’ll liberate you too.
Happy Writing and keep Digging Out of Distraction!