When I first started out writing, I had a wonderful illusion that writing full time would mean just that. I would write, all the time. I would spend all of my day writing or editing. Isn’t this a beautiful thought? Wake up in the morning, have a wonderful breakfast, then go to my writing studio and devote the entire day to creating my art.
Now, I’m not full time yet. But I have been writing professionally for about four years now. And I can tell you, writing is only about half of what I do.
If you’re just starting out as a writer, and you’re trying to figure out what you should be doing, it can be exhausting! I’ve been trying different things for years now, and I’ve finally gotten a solid list of daily and weekly writing activities that A. don’t take forever, and B. have a positive impact on my writing goal.
These daily and weekly tasks are set up from most to least important. I’ve also not included projects like preparing for a launch, building an e-book or getting ready for a book signing. While those are projects that will take up a good amount of my time, they’re not things I’m doing every week or even every month. And I just want to focus on these basic tasks I do to keep everything running and keep progressing every week.
Work an hour on the current project. Pretty self-explanatory. I get up at 5:50 right now to make sure I have time to get my ass in a seat and work on my current wip for an hour every morning. Crazy thing, I’m trying to get it up to an hour and a half, slowly. I also want to take time to do yoga and eat breakfast before I go to the day job. Because self-care is important.
Free write. I don’t get this in every day, but I am an imperfect being aspiring to perfection. Free writing is practice. It’s a way to work out problems in your story before you come to the blank page. It’s a conversation with yourself. It’s stretching before you run. It’s tiling the soil of your creative mind. Free write, for at least ten minutes a day, is what I’m saying. Just do it. If you have questions about free writing, I’ve done a few blog posts about that. And the internet is full of freewriting prompts.
Research. Especially when I’m working on a second draft, I have research to do. Yes, even though I write fantasy, I like to have a sense of realism about the world. And I hate to take time during my writing hour to learn all about medieval midwifery and herb lore. So most days I can be found at some point looking up random information online. And yes, I am really good at trivia.
Read. And by read, I mean read for pleasure. I read every single day, and I don’t know that I could be a writer if I didn’t. Even if I can usually only fit about 20 minutes in. Reading is essential to a writer. We need to absorb our language, learn how other writers tell stories. And we never reach an end to this. You’ve never read enough books, I can promise you. Fortunately, most of us became writers because we were such voracious readers.
Read blogs and listen to podcasts about my field. I can usually fit this in when I’m getting ready in the morning or working on other chores through the week. I listen to a bunch of different writing podcasts for a number of reasons. I learn about craft, get info on new ways to promote my books and hear about new agents or publishing companies that might be looking for writers to represent. Basically, I use podcasts to stay on top of everything going on in the writing field. You just have to do this if you want to be a professional writer. And podcasts are the best way to do that. If you’re interested in a list of podcasts I listen to, click here.
Social media. I do a little bit of this at different times throughout the day. And there’s a lot of moving parts here, so let me break this down.
- First thing in the morning I pin one blog post from PBW.
- After lunch, I will do most of my social media work. I’ll pin another blog post, share a picture on Instagram if I have one, like and comment on other people’s posts on Instagram, share two or three pins on Pinterest that aren’t mine, and check in on Twitter.
- In the evening I use Buffer to schedule my social media posts on Facebook and Twitter for the next few days.
Submit work. Right now I’m submitting the novel I finished recently. I might have a short story to submit or something like that. Whatever it is, getting my work out is first priority on my office day.
Write promotional material, like blog posts or newsletters. You know, like what you’re reading right now. I try to get both of my weekly blog posts written, edited and scheduled on one day, so I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the week. A few times in the past months that hasn’t been happening. But I should be getting back on track now that I’ve finished my rough draft and taking a hiatus. Always assuming Camp Nanowrimo doesn’t throw me for a loop next month.
Advertise. I run ads on Amazon, and I update those every week. I don’t yet feel comfortable doing anything informational about the Amazon ads because I’m still learning them. But if you’d like to know how to use Amazon ads, there are a lot of great blog posts, books, and courses you can take if you’re interested in learning about them.
Track numbers. Possibly the most fun/depressing part of my week. Every Sunday I track my sales on Amazon and Smashwords. I balance that with any money I spent through the week, and see where I am for the month.
Now, this is a lot! I’ll be the first to admit, being a professional writer takes time. Like, a lot of time. And sometimes I don’t have all of that time. Some days all of those things on my daily list just are not happening. If I have no time, writing comes first. It’s just that simple. That hour of writing time is sacred, and nothing is more important. So if all else fails, I will drop everything else and write.
So, what do you think? Does your writing to do list differ from mine? Let us know in the comments below.
Station 86 is shocked when a Khloe assassin begins killing members of the all powerful council. Officer Sennett Montgomery and Councilman Godfrey Anders swear to find the assassin after Godfrey’s wife is falsely accused. But the killer, and the council itself, are not what they seem. Neither, as it turns out, is Sennett’s daughter.
Get it for free on Smashwords now. And get ready for Station Central, starting on April 13th. If you just can’t wait for April 13th, you don’t have to! Episodes start on April first for people signed up for the Paper Beats World Update.
I would say my daily writing tasks are very similar though I’m building on the social media side of it. I also haven’t been free writing at all lately and I need to work on that (Prose has had some amazing challenges on it that I just haven’t done). While I’ve yet to publish my first book, I’m hoping I manage to do it soon (be it the traditional route or by self-publishing). It is intimidating and I don’t which option will be better, but I’m going for it one way or the other. This all means I don’t have a weekly task list like yours at all, but I’m going to be making note of it for when that time in my writing life comes. Thanks for the enlightening post though! It helps me stay inspired!
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That is such a tough call!
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It seems to be! Googling opinions never seems to help either!
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So, I do both and that seems to work well for my indecisive little heart. Both have their good and bad qualities. I don’t think I could pick just one, robe honest.