The months of August and September are crazy busy for me—both personally as well as in my writing life.
As you know, I’m gearing up for the release of my second book, The Doctor’s Lady on Sept 1st. I’m not under any delusion about the difficulty I’ll face in promoting my book. Today’s publishing industry is exploding with new authors but is constantly shrinking in shelf space which means I need to do whatever I can to market my book and help it stand out from the masses.
Among many things, I’m attempting a blog tour. Although I had quite a number of interviews for my debut book, I'm currently planning an official, established schedule with lots of unique and fun appearances, an epic contest, and tons of book giveaways. I’m really excited about all of the upcoming events.
But . . . I’ve had to spend an enormous amount of time planning for the tour as well as writing the awesome guest posts and interview questions for participants. In addition, I’m trying to keep up with my own blog and have recently started the first draft of a new book. Not to mention emails and social media . . . Then there’s my local book signing and the national writers’ conference I’m attending in mid-September.
I’m sure you get my point. My writing life (like many of yours) is filled to overflowing. Then there’s also real life with three birthdays in the next two weeks and the start of school (among other things). But I won’t bore you with all those busy details!
How do I do it? How can a person hope to keep up with all that needs to be done without getting buried? Is it even possible?
Last week I talked about easing into more as one of the ways I’ve learned to manage many responsibilities. Another way I manage is by living intentionally.
When I think about the periods in my life when I’m not living intentionally, those are the times when I allow myself to be swept along by my moods or the urgency of activities. I float from one thing to another, without seeing any real progress. I don’t have any focus, I’m easily distracted, and I spend way too much time on social media instead of doing things that really matter. Usually I end up frustrated and irritable.
On the other hand, when I decide I need to buckle down and get intentional, I’m always much more satisfied and productive. The dictionary defines intention as: a determination to act in a certain way. We resolve ahead of time what we're going to do, and then we do it. We're purposeful, make plans, and carry them through.
Yes, I accomplish more when I'm living intentionally. But I’m not an ultra-planner. I don’t have monthly, yearly, or 5 year goals (at least not written down). I don’t schedule out each hour of my day in a calendar (not that there’s anything wrong with doing that).
In other words, we don’t have to go from one extreme—complete disorganization with our goals and time—to the other extreme—planning out every second of our lives. We will probably only frustrate ourselves with unrealistic expectations if we do.
Instead, we can find a middle ground, one where we live intentionally, but still give ourselves breathing space. Here are just a few things I do to be intentional but not fanatical about my writing responsibilities:
• In the mornings, I take stock of my upcoming day and try to determine where I can block in a chunk of writing time for my WIP (work-in-progress).
• When I’m writing a first draft, I give myself the goal of 1000 words a day (6 days a week), but if I fall short one day, I simply try to make up the words by the end of the week.
• During my designated WIP writing time, I turn off email notifications, Tweetdeck, and anything else that might distract me. And I only allow myself to check it halfway through my time, and then only briefly.
• I write my blog posts a week ahead, usually on the three different weekdays that I have the most work time so that I don’t have to sacrifice WIP writing time.
• I give myself the weekly goal of trying to write one or two interviews as well as edit and return those I did the week before.
• When I start to fall short, or get off focus, I stop, take stock of the situation, and try to look at what I need to do differently to make it work.
The point is—I have to give myself some weekly and daily goals, or I probably will wander aimlessly. I want to approach my work, my family, my life with intentionality. I don’t want to look back some day on how I lived (or my writing career) and have regrets.
But at the same time I don’t want to turn into a robot. I don’t want to burden myself so much with planning and schedules and goals that I forget to enjoy breathing, and meandering, and detouring.
How about you? Are you living intentionally enough? What kinds of things do you do in your writing and life to be intentional? Do you need to give yourself a little more breathing room?
P.S. The winner of this week's signed copy of The Doctor's Lady is Sara! Congratulations, Sara! And thank you to everyone for playing along!! Come back next week for one more Trivia Question & one more chance to win!