I find myself in a weird position as an author during quarantine. I’m in one of the few jobs where the demand for the product has remained high. This is great. People are reading more, something I always wished for. People are buying books and ebooks and listening to audiobooks as they exercise. This also puts some pressure on authors to continue to write and be productive during the quarantine. With everything else going on, this is not an easy ask.
Some days diving into my fictional world is a relief. Other days it feels selfish. And some days it feels just about impossible. I will say, that like exercise, I do almost always feel better after it’s over. And while I’m being careful to always put family first and not put any additional pressure on myself with a word count or expectations, I have (almost against my will) developed a daily quarantine writing routine that is working.
I’ve found two things most helpful.
First, starting the day with a list of the three most important things I want to accomplish with my author business that day gives me focus and helps pare away some distractions while remaining short and not overwhelming. Even with other life tasks and homeschooling, it’s usually possible find the time to hit up three things for my business.
Second, starting early. If I start in on the internet or exercise first, I find my energy and motivation to write is much lower and I can usually find some justification to skipping it. Unlike pre-lockdown, where I had more flexibility with my wife and kids out of the house, now, if I don’t give the writing some prioritization it will easily slide off the list.
And letting it slide, can also, easily become a habit.
The 3 MITs each day are usually pretty similar: write something new, interact on social media/website/facebook, learn or work on something new.
I’ve found that I’m most fresh, imaginative and receptive to things in the morning so I’ve been trying to get up earlier than the kids and get at least an initial chunk of writing done early. Let the dog out, make the coffee, put the butt in the chair and start writing. Don’t get distracted by the news or the internet.
Don’t think, just start writing. I like to leave off the previous day’s writing in a spot where I know what to write next. That helps jumpstart the next session.
I might get 300, 500 or 1,000 words done before the kids wake up looking for breakfast. No judgement on word count. The key is to do it everyday and not break the chain. Maybe I’ll get another chunk written later in the day, but if I don’t? I at least have something. That gives me momentum and a feeling of accomplishment for the rest of the day. Squash procrastination before it gets started.
Right now, I’m over 70k into the the fourth Max Strong thriller. Most of that was written after the quarantine.
Once the writing is done, I’ll typically allow myself a break and browse the internet for interesting crime fiction links or stories and then post or schedule some tweets to go out throughout the day.
As the day wears on and my energy wanes, I turn to the more business oriented aspects of being an indie author in the afternoon. I’ll respond to emails, check on any ads or promotions that are running, or look to brush up on some marketing or design skills that might help my website, book covers, or other products. Right now, I’m learning more about AMS ads as well as looking into how best to record some audiobooks.Finally, after dinner, my favorite part of the day and, other than putting in the time to write, the most important thing a writer can do: read. If an author can’t tell me their favorite author or rattle off a list of recent books they read, I’m very skeptical. I spend most evenings reading for at least an hour before going to bed. I can’t think of a better way to end the day especically given the current climate.
So that’s it, a quick peek into how my daily writing routine has shifted during the lockdown.