Please welcome Guest Blogger: C. Hope Clark
When I promote my new mystery release Lowcountry Bribe, A Carolina Slade Mystery, I’m asked often how I organize my time. See, I’m known for FundsforWriters.com, which has been around for thirteen years and selected by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for twelve. I’m known for my nonfiction essays and freelance efforts, so my fiction talent amazes a lot of people. They never saw it coming.
The easiest way for me to describe what I do is to say I prioritize instead of plan.
We see gobs of how-to posts on planning. I’m amazed at the intensity in which people will plan, and the sluggish way they implement. It’s as if the planning takes the fun out of it. The more complicated the system, the less we adhere to it.
First of all, I know each day which priorities need addressing. The newsletters have deadlines that cannot be adjusted. New subscribers have to be entered. Freelance deadlines are nonnegotiable. These tasks are so deeply engrained in me, that I often note my calendar only after they’re completed.
My short term calendar sits before me, open to the current week, instant reminder of my short-term duties. My long term calendar, however, is on a spreadsheet—for 2012 and 2013. There I post conferences, interviews, travel, personal days I will not be able to write, and critical big deadlines (like book edits and contract requirements). I can see two months at a time.
With a long-term project…I immediately analyze for short term, midterm and long term priorities. Writing a book is a major item. So is its promotion. So might be a new website, or a new blog. Study each project, note the duties required, and set them up for attention.
A spreadsheet records administrative items like income, freelance submissions, and, in my case, FundsforWriters.com business, for tax purposes.
My spiral notebook sits open next to my calendar, and as I have blinding flashes of genius for a blog post, freelance pitch or promotional idea, I note them. By bedtime, it’s covered with items starred for importance and scratched through for completion. I then condense a to-do list on a fresh page, organizing the next day.
I socially network in between duties, keeping Facebook, Twitter and the blog continually open in case I have a remarkable thought.
And I write fiction at night.
It’s quite important that you use the time you have to the best of your advantage. My clock functions creatively best at night; factually by day. When the sun sets, my characters come out to play. Yours might be morning people. If you have another job, they might appear at lunch and between appointments. I didn’t always write full-time, but I can honestly say my fiction always came alive in the middle of the night.
Know what’s important, and be adamant about responsibilities. Cater to customers and editors. They come first. Without them, your writing is worthless. Theirs are the first emails I address in the morning as I sit down at the keyboard. I may work in seclusion, but my people connections are first and foremost. I suggest that you adopt this outlook. Think about it, otherwise, when you publish in that magazine, or release that mystery, who’s there to give it life? I stay connected on the road, just in case I hear from these people.
Again, it’s prioritizing rather than planning. Of course some days the duties clash for limited minutes. That’s when you shut the door and commit 110 percent. Family cooks dinner. Television waits. Dust builds. Exercise skips a day. When writing is your profession, you learn how to drive it properly. Just remember to make the tools work for you, not the other way around. Know who’s boss.
And most importantly. . . you need to want it badly.
C. Hope Clark is editor of http://www.FundsforWriters.com reaching 44,000 readers each week about contests, grants, markets and publishing opportunities. She is also author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, published by Bell Bridge Books http://www.bellbridgebooks.com She’s noted for taking lessons learned from her fiction to fuel her nonfiction . . . and vice versa. http://www.chopeclark.com http://www.fundsforwriters.com