“I’m soooo busy,” a phrase I’ve heard myself muttering to anyone who will listen over the past couple of months. Now, whilst I normally hate a complainer, and hate it even more when I’m the one doing the complaining, I still find myself muttering those words on a near daily basis. I know I shouldn’t, especially when I’m fully aware it was my choice to take on the massive self-publishing task, but I still can’t help it. Like so many others, I feel I have so much to do with so little time in which to do it. There’ve been numerous times when I thought the challenge was all too much, too hard and too overwhelming to continue... but I pushed myself on (after a mild panic or two first of course!)

So…let’s look at what’s occupying my To Do list then shall we? First, I have my baby….The House Beneath the Oak Trees, my debut novel which I’m committed to marketing and developing as much as I can. Then (because I can’t spend the rest of my days pushing my one and only book) I also have to complete book number two by the end of the year. And oh yeah... there’s also that dream wedding that needs planning!!!
When I decided to self-publish, I thought that once the fun writing and tedious editing parts were completed, the hard work would be over. Erm….nope! I jumped into self-publishing not thinking about what would happen after, or what I needed to do to forge myself a new writing career. I’m going to be honest and say that the enormity of the task threw me off guard, but it also hit me directly in the heart... I loved it. I love writing and everything that goes with it so much that I simply do not want to do anything else and so I need to make my writing career work, there’s just no other option.

With my end goal in sight, I’ve had to put in the hours and learn as much as I can about editing, marketing and advertising in very little time.  My biggest problem with self-publishing is that there’s no big publishing house behind you to set up all those important PR opportunities and no big advertising spend to get your book visibility. To put it simply, you’re on your own. Completely alone. You have to make the hard decisions, critique your own work, seek out opportunities, push your book, build your author profile, build your audience base whilst at the same time trying to develop as a writer (not to mention the finances, legal requirements and all the other not so fun parts of trying to be an author!!)  Therefore, when it really comes down to it, the only person who can actually make this dream of mine a success is me.
Okay, so now we all know I have to work hard to get stuff done. This isn’t the problem for me, in fact it’s kind of the thing that spurs me on. No, the thing I struggle with the most is deciding what, out of my long list, is the priority and where on earth to start first.  Ever looked at a To Do List and felt overwhelmed by what to do first? Yep, me too..nearly every day! Normally I’d tackle my list by prioritising, but how do you decide what’s a priority when everything you have to do is equally important to you and time sensitive?

This was the thing that stressed me out the most once I‘d got into the swing of self-publishing and had a clearer appreciation of exactly what I needed to do to develop my writing career. Every time I focused on one thing, I felt incredibly guilty and neglectful towards the other two parts of my life, which I didn’t feel were progressing as quickly as that thing I was currently working on. I was stressed and focusing on the guilt so much that I really wasn’t making progress on the thing I was then working on either! Then I panicked... then I freaked out...then I convinced myself that I had picked an impossible task and found myself stalling on all three. I became a bit dazed with the amount left to do that I was starting to question whether it was ever going to be achievable. But then I stopped, stepped back and reviewed the progress I had already made, which was really pretty good stuff!! I started to give myself a bit of break, knowing that I’m not expected to do it all on my own so quickly.

After a couple of days of downtime, I tackled my workload with a new approach. Firstly, I realistically considered where I wanted to be in a year, within all three of my priorities. Realistically is the word that I had kind of been ignoring during those first few weeks. I mean, obviously I want to be a bestselling author and make it into the Times Bestseller List, but is that actually going to happen in the next year, or even the next four? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be half way there this time next year does it? (a girls ghotta dream right?) I realised that I had been setting ridiculously high goals within a far too short timeframe.

​​Working full time and having a chronic illness which requires large periods of rest between activities, means I only have two-three hours per evening to concentrate on my writing career (if you forget the mornings pre-work and lunchbreaks where I'm jotting down ideas, tracking sales and monitoring my social media accounts.) Because of my chronic condition, the majority of these hours have to be type free, which really isn't the one when you're hoping to become a writer! It's so frustrating to have your tasks mounting up when your physically incapable of ploughing on. Being completely honest, I've spent a good few hours dwelling on how much more I could have achieved this time two years ago, or how much further I would be if I could only type for a  tiny bit extra each day. But it's not and I can't. I had no other option but step back, consider my capabilities and how I was going to make this work with the hours I had available to me. 

I've had to be meticulous about my time and plan my tasks around how I knew I would be feeling on that particular day. Each day of the week has been allocated to a particular task. Monday’s and Wednesday's are dedicated to working on THBTOT, Tuesday's and Thursday's I get to write book number two and at the weekends I get up early to do wedding research, plan blog posts and taking ALL of the photographs.

By adapting to this way of working, I feel calmer knowing that each of my babies are getting the time they deserve. At times I do still feel that I'm not always focussing my time correctly and I still worry that perhaps I’m neglecting something which really requires my full attention.  But then I remember that there's only one of me, taking on a dozen different job roles, in a world where I have literally no experience and am learning as I go. 

So, what are my top tips to anyone who, like me, is trying to crack the self-publishing world whilst at the same time trying to maintain a ‘normal’ lifestyle?

Make a list – you’ve probably gathered by now how much I love a list

1) Make your goals realistic –Making my goals more realistic automatically felt more achievable and was the motivation needed to spur me on!
2) Make your available time work for you. I've tried the traditional writer thing of getting up at the crack of dawn to lay down 1000 words before work, but not once have I pulled myself out of bed!! It'll never work as that will never be my time. After trial and error, I've realised a time which works for me,  stuck with it and barely deviated from it since.
3) Set deadlines – the various blogs and magazines you’ll read  will tell you to set deadlines. If you become a professional writer, publishers will expect results within a set timeframe and therefore learning to stick to deadlines now is key. This is okay with me, I’m a deadline kind-of-girl!

And the most important bit of advice? Try and have fun!! At times I felt that perhaps I've put my business hat on a little too tightly and am missing out on how fun this part of the journey is. I know that no matter how many books I may or may not write in my future, this will always be my first ever experience of writing and publishing a book.  I’m trying to take some time to step back and review all my achievements, no matter how small... it encourages me to go further!!
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Published on July 16, 2018 13:52 • 63 views • Tags: ghost, horror, scary-story, self-publish, time-management

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