A lot of writing and marketing advice adds to your To Do list. Let's talk instead about how to make your writing life easier.
Because life is challenging enough these days.
Also, for most of us, writing started as a passion. Whether you're trying to earn money at it or just fit it in as an unpaid pursuit, making it easier makes sense.
5 ways to do that (more on each below):
- Only Decide Once
- Create Your Own Rules
- Making Starting Simple
- Create Easy Entry Points
- Use Tech Well
Read on for how you can apply these suggestions.
Make Decisions Once (And Only Once)
When I looked over how I spent my time in 2021, I asked how I might save time this year without getting less done or spending more money.
And I discovered I spent a lot of time researching and deciding the same things over and over. For example, every month I advertised the first book, which is free, in my Awakening supernatural thriller series in 2 or 3 different enewsletters.
As I glanced over the list of ads, I saw that I repeated many of the same ones throughout the year, spacing them a few months apart.
Yet every month I spent 45 minutes to an hour checking to see which enewsletters had categories where the book fit, which ones covered sales outlets beyond Amazon, and which performed well for me in the past.
Based on that discovery, I created a 3-month schedule to advertise in 2 different enewsletters–ones I already researched–each month. On Month 4, I start over. It takes me all of 10 minutes to schedule. I also made a note to review and check for new places to advertise at the end of 6 months.
That's 35-45 minutes a month saved, which might not sound like a lot.
But I found 4 recurring tasks that fell in this category, bringing the total saved to 2-3 hours. I don't know about you, but I definitely appreciate an extra 2.5 hours when I can relax.
Create Your Own Rules
Take a moment to think about what you do over and over. Maybe it's deciding when to fit writing into your day or week. Or it could be a non-writing task like taking a trip to the store.
Can you create a rule, such as “I write every Friday morning from 6-7 a.m.” or “I write any time I've got at least 20 minutes to myself in the evening”?
Or maybe you can make a task automatic by going to the store every first Monday of the month to buy paper goods, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, etc.?
Make Starting Simple
When I'm outlining or first drafting it takes me a while to get each writing session started. Those phases of a novel just aren't my favorites. I find sitting down to rewrite a lot easier.
You may feel exactly the opposite. Perhaps you love exploring your story at the first draft stage but find revising tedious.
Whatever phase challenges you most in your writing life, think about how you can make it easier to get rolling. For me, that means as I'm finishing a first drafting session, I add a note in brackets to myself about what will happen next. When I'm outlining, I add bullet points to think about next time.
That way when I open the document I'm not struggling to remember where I left off. And I don't stare at the screen trying to figure out what to write next, as usually my unconscious mind has been sorting through those bullet points or notes.
What can you do to help you start your next writing session?
Easy Entry Points
Look for an easy entry point to your writing session.
To borrow an example from the world of physical health, I'm not someone who loves exercise, but I've got a pretty solid routine. That's because I start with the smallest possible step.
First thing in the morning, I roll out my yoga mat. I tell myself I don't need to use it, and once in a very great while I don't. But 49 times out of 50 once the mat is out, I start with some stretches. Then I transition into whatever I haven't done much of lately, whether it's actual yoga, physical therapy exercises for my neck and shoulders, or strength training.
Writing works the same way. When I really truly don't feel like writing the 3,000 (or 300) words I scheduled for the day I tell myself all I'll do for now is open the document. Just in case I decide to write.
Once it's open I see a line or maybe those bullet points. Usually that's enough to get my fingers on the keyboard.
Make Use Of Your Tech
So often technology frustrates and aggravates us. (More on that in Dealing With Tech Glitches That Steal Your Time.) But you can use it to save time and make your writing life easier, too.
And that's beyond the basic–and pretty amazing–ways computers already make typing, revising, and saving easier. (Yep, I started when it was typewriting on paper. Typos alone presented serious challenges, let alone major revisions.)
Some examples from my writing and publishing work include:
- Formatting chapter headers as I write so they convert easily into Vellum (the program I use to layout ebook and print files).
- Creating quick keys (Autocorrect in Word) for my recurring names. So qq becomes Quille, the detective protagonist of my Q.C. Davis mystery series, and b[ become Buffy for my podcast outlines.
- Using scheduling options for blog posts and podcast episodes so that I can upload batches rather than logging in and navigating to the right screens each time.
What will make your life easier depends on your routines. Take a few minutes now to think about how you might use tech to help make your writing life easier.
I hope that was helpful!
L. M. Lilly
P.S. Wishing you could make plotting your novel easier? Check out Super Simple Story Structure: A Quick Guide To Plotting And Writing Your Novel.