As I wobble with coltish legs on my journey to becoming an author, I’ve realized something: It takes Time. I know, shouldn’t have been a great epiphany. To help me get an idea of how other others do it, and to get a little advice, I went to some of my favorite authors and asked them how they manage their time. The answers are enlightening!
Question 1: How many hours per week do you spend on your writing career? (including writing, editing, blogs, social media, etc)
I wasn’t surprised to see that the majority of authors I interviewed spend the equivalent of a full time job on their writing.
Here’s what Stephani Hecht had to say about her writing hours:
Stephani Hecht: Treat your writing as you would any other job and give it the attention and dedication it deserves. All successful writers say that you need to write each and every day to make it and I agree, writing should be more than a hobby, it should be what motivates you to get up every morning.
Question 2: Of that time, what percentage is spent writing your books (not including any blog posts or interviews)?
True confession time: This is where I get caught up! I’ve heard other writers saying the same thing, and often see Facebook posts that say “Shutting this down so I can work!”.
It was good to see that it wasn’t just me! Most of the authors I interviewed spend around 25% of their time doing things other than actually writing.
Here’s what T.J. Klune and Clare London have to say about it:
T.J. Klune: Don’t let the social media aspect of becoming a writer end up taking up more of your time than the actual writing. It’s very easy to get sucked into Facebook, a blog, or any other number of social sites. That being said, social media is a wonderful tool to help promote new works and it also allow readers contact with the authors they like. Use these sites wisely!
Clare London: It’s very easy to tip over the balance into more blogging/chatting than writing. It’s important to be accessible, to make friendships, to network, to support other writers, to listen to feedback from readers. But the reason most of us got into the business is to write, so that should be your prime concern. Most people engage with your fiction, not necessarily you, and they’re always keen for more. It also gets more and more difficult to balance everything, the more books you have out. It’s great to build a backlist, but each one adds another call for attention. It’s what I call a snowball effect. So I don’t think everyone should periodically recalibrate the percentage of question (2) to give more time for writing! J
Question 3: How does the rest of your time break down in percentages?
No fancy graphs for this one. The results were pretty simple. When not writing, the authors I interviewed divided their time pretty equally between editing and social media.
Here’s what Mary Calmes and Stormy Glenn had to say about it:
Mary Calmes: I think that as far as time management goes, I get sucked into checking review sites, looking at Good Reads, and not spending that quality “awake” time writing. I wish I was a better blogger, but unlike others, I don’t think I have anything that interesting to say. And as I am completely tech challenged, chatting moves WAY too fast for me. I always think of something witty to say after the topic has moved on. I think that promising to write at least 3 hours every single day is an excellent commitment. If you do that, at the minimum, 7 days a week, your story will stay fresh in your mind.
Stormy Glenn: Time management is a tricky thing. I can have one day where everything flows perfectly and I get tons of work done. Others days, I get emails, phone calls, general interruptions, and nothing goes right. This biggest piece of advice is one I used when raising six kids all born in the same 5 yr period, operating a daycare for fifteen years, and writing (this includes general writing, blogs, social media, editing, and dealing with the world in general as a writer)…“You are going to have a hundred battles a day. You are only going to win ten. So, pick the most important battles and forget the rest.”
Question 4: Any words of wisdom/advice/warnings on time management and its importance to your career?
Ellis Carrington: Write every day, and don’t hurry too much. Take the occasional writing course through a place like savvyauthors.com or the Romance Writers of America, and do basic stuff like run spell checker. No matter how much you know, you can always learn more.
M.J. O’Shea: I guess my advice is you have to know how fast you write and go from there. If you’re someone who can pull out a chapter in an hour or two, then you can spend more time messing around (or keep working and have more books out!) If you work slowly when you’re writing and are more of a perfectionist in the early drafts, don’t let the internet distract you as often:)