Sunday, February 1, 2009

Back on Schedule

Happy February! Welcome to the official launch of Parker Publishing's blog...in the months ahead, you'll get to meet our authors as they provide you with bios, contests, reader profiles, interviews, character profiles, excerpts, and much more. I'm going to become a familiar face on this blog so don't miss out on the new line up...

Today, I'm going to be wearing my author hat and giving you tips on getting back on schedule. One of the biggest problems I faced was my inability to manage my time. Procrastination and distractions played heavily into my day-to-day routine which didn't help my writing schedule. I realize most authors are employed full-time so writing may be limited. However, when you are able to create a schedule and stay on track, you'll discover how much you can accomplish in a matter of weeks.

Okay, how can writing be a career when we enjoy it so much? The answer is that, like any job, it requires dedication, hard work, and discipline if you want to be considered a serious writer. You have to view it as a full-time commitment or else it may take you months or years to complete your manuscript. Just remember: Writing is a Career! So treat it as such.

At the beginning of the year I created a spreadsheet that is both a timekeeping tool and good record keeping for when tax season rolls around. It's smart to document and keep all records and receipts that applies to your career: i.e., work hours, office supplies, conference trips, writing retreats, mileage, etc. You have to view writing as a small home business, otherwise it's just a hobby if you have no plans on actively pursuing it.

Get your Template HERE...

My Work Log contains 4 different spreadsheets:

1. Work Log - This is a breakdown of all my writing time including promo and research
2. Submissions - Which agent and editors my projects are submitted to (if you have an agent, you can still keep track of which project was sent where)
3. Expenses - Breakdown of all office supplies, conferences, retreats, etc. that relates to your writing (Make sure to write the names of the people and what you were working on in the back or front of the receipt)
4. Mileage - Correctly document your odometer reading and mileage to writing events, meetings, retreats, signings, etc. (Keep track of the beginning Odometer reading and the End of Year Odometer reading. Also, you can print out this page and leave in your car to keep track, then transcribe it to the spreadsheet)

By making an effort to fill out these forms on a daily basis is the first step in getting organized and on schedule. The second part is to follow this format until it becomes routine for you. The more you use the spreadsheet (feel free to re-arrange) the easier it will get! This is no different than freelance work where documentation is beneficial. Even if you work full-time, it is good to keep track of the times you write and by monitoring your productivity, you can create a time schedule that you can repeat. If you work at 9:00 AM and you're an early bird, make it a habit to write an hour every morning before work and a few hours after the children are tucked in bed. By forming a routine, it gets easier. After a month of trying out your schedule you will discover what works for you and how much time you've spent writing. If you are interested in documenting the number of words or pages written, you can add the column into your Work Log. By including your beginning pages or word count somewhere on the spreadsheet and comparing to how much you've written in a month, I can guarantee that you'll see the results.

Only you can make writing a career...but like all things, it takes time. The first step is getting organized! Good Luck!

8 comments:

Kelley Nyrae said...

Amazing tips, Jax. Thanks!

Kristen Painter said...

Great stuff, Jax!

Jax Cassidy said...

Hopefully those who try the schedule will finish those projects on the list! Thanks for stopping by.

Chudney Defreitas-Thomas said...

Thanks Jax.

~tivi jones said...

This is exactly what I needed!

Thanks, Jax!

Jax Cassidy said...

Like I mentioned, it does help you with the recordkeeping and you'll have a good start at staying on schedule.

Niambi Brown Davis said...

Thank you so much! I need something other than my bits and pieces of fly-away papers to keep me on track!

Jax Cassidy said...

I'm glad it helped Niambi. I needed to get on track myself, hence the schedule!