Blogger: Mary Keeley
So much about the writing life has to do with time and no more so than in this season of the year. Time for meeting your self-imposed deadline or the publisher’s due date is at a premium, and if you’re like two clients I talked to recently, you’re hoping to be more effective next year. Because there always is room for improvement, even for seasoned authors, I’ll approach this need from a couple of angles, which might help you discover new ways to augment your work in the daily time you have for your writing life.
I’m pretty organized, which is helpful in my agent role. For example, I have email and document systems in place for each client so I can locate information and correspondence in no time at all. I have records for tracking my submission of each client’s proposals and publishers’ feedback. This comes easily for me so this is one of my strengths.
Now think about what comes easily for you and what doesn’t. Which of the following areas of your writing life are you confident you can accomplish efficiently? Which areas take you longer to address and tempt you to “put off til later”?
- Brainstorming the concept for your next book
- Getting your rough draft completed
- Defining your brand and reinforcing it throughout your social media, on your website, and everywhere you write
- Networking with other authors who might be future endorsers and with whom you can share guest blogs
- Staying current with the publishing industry to increase your business savvy
- Gathering your tribe and influencers and beta readers
- Research and editing of your work
- GPS – grammar, punctuation, and spelling
- Developing a thick skin for the long haul of the writing life
Chances are you’re already aware of your strengths and weaknesses to a point, but when you measure it from a time-requirement perspective, you might find a few surprises. For instance, say you’ve found your sweet spot social media platform and are connecting easily with potential readers, but it takes a huge chunk of your writing-life time. Discipline of your time in this area, and perhaps others too, is an identifiable weakness. If you can do nothing else over the busy Christmas holidays, creating a time allotment for each aspect in your daily writing life already puts you a step ahead going into next year.
Now is the time to take inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. Look into ways to bolster where you are strong and pursue help for weak areas. One client, who has almost a quarter million books in print, is often asked how she can do so much in terms of marketing, networking, teaching at conferences, and guest appearances, while writing so many books. She attributes her uber-productivity to the fact that she’s also a mathematician and uses her analytical mind to develop ideas on a spreadsheet, which allows her to see the big picture in a simple, logical format. Her first step is to read recent releases from publishers she’s targeting. Next, she brainstorms a seemingly marketable concept that is unique in focus and theme and then enters the details on her spreadsheet. From there she launches into the writing with a clear vision for the book.
TAKEAWAY: Systems make some creative minds cringe at the thought of being “restrained” within a structured system. But they’re necessary considering the many hats writers wear in today’s writing world. You, too, can develop systems that are adapted for your unique strengths. This month, when publishing and social media interaction slow down, is an optimum time to get them in place for a good beginning next year. And take heart: systems aren’t meant to be rigid and unforgiving. They’re tools. You are in control of them, not the other way around. Refine where and when necessary, BUT maintain their purpose.
Another client is quite strong in almost all the necessary skills, but she recognized she’s been putting her author website on the back burner because she was unsure of how to design and construct it in a way that best reinforces her brand and communicates her uniqueness as an author. Eventually she realized that, because it isn’t a good use of her time to try and figure this out herself, she needed to get help from a professional web designer.
TAKEAWAY: Don’t waste time or put weak areas off. Get help when you need it. You will be a happier, more confident author entrepreneur.
What are your strengths and weaknesses? When you viewed the list from a time perspective, did you discover any surprises? Share a system or schedule that has helped you and might help other writers too.
Every writer has strengths and weaknesses. See how to bolster strengths and compensate for weaknesses. Click to Tweet.
Writers, here’s a way to assess your strengths & weaknesses within all aspects of the writing life. Click to Tweet.