How do you structure your writing day?
I write first thing, preferably before I’m awake enough to remember all the real-life chores I need to do that day. The later I start, the more apt I am to get distracted or procrastinate, and the more likely the writing is to feel like work. Typically, I write sometime between seven and one. After lunch, any cleverness I possess checks out for the day. I switch to more mundane tasks in the afternoon, like edits or web updates or accounting, or the housework I’ve been neglecting.
How do you balance the above with all the business end of writing? The promo, the websites, the social media, the email…
If it isn’t writing, it’ll keep until after lunch. And with the exception of keeping my website current plus the odd giveaway or interview, I find promo about as appealing as a wet wool sweater. I blog and tweet about the process and the perils of writing a given book, and I hope that my voice or my point of view might entice the odd reader to try my stories. But as a rule, I try not to engage in interactions that make me feel I’m treating readers as customers, instead of people.
How do you balance home life/work life? For those of you with husbands and family, how do you balance their demands with the demands of a career. In particular, how do you balance your life with your spouse who may or may not have issues with you “writing all the time”
I’m not crazy good at this yet. I’ve always been wired for autonomy, and admittedly I identify as a writer first, then a wife. (“Wife” is not on my Twitter bio.) Though my husband’s happiness ultimately comes above any given book, I won’t lie—I’m deeply self-involved and prone to overworking. It’s a professional asset, but also a personality defect.
Do you have a business plan? What kind of form does this plan take? Is it a yearly plan or more of a Five Year Goal type of thing?
I track the goals I can control—daily and monthly word counts I want to hit, due dates for proposal submissions and revisions. Grander, more elusive wants flit about in my head, but I don’t hold myself rigidly to the achievements I ultimately can’t control—hitting this or that list, getting X dollars for my next advance, finaling in the RITA, selling however many units of a new release. That’s a recipe for frustration. I focus on what I can accomplish with my efforts, and remind myself that the more luck-based ambitions are dreams—not goals.
Do you have a support group?
Yes. I have a core group of like-minded fellow writers—my CPs and conference roomies and co-bloggers. That’s essential for me. Publishing is brutal and exhilarating and frustrating and scary and addictive and very isolating, and you need friends who understand that. Bonus points if you love each other’s writing, as good critique partners are precious gems.
Do you worry about burn out? What steps do you take to prevent this?
I burn out a few times a year, from deadlines. I’m lucky in that I’m fairly disciplined (as a writer, anyhow.) I do the math. I tell myself, “I have two months to finish this book, and to make that happen while maintaining sanity, I’ll need to write 10,000 words a week,” or what have you. In the thick of it, I might tell myself, “I really need to take the weekend off and relax, so I better hit 2K a day on Monday through Friday.” Or, “The words really aren’t flowing this week. Better go for fewer words, but write every day, so it doesn’t feel like I’m being bled dry.”