November 18, 2013

A Writer’s (Holi)day

wrotersAny writer who has come of age in today’s writing environment knows authors do a lot more than write books. We have three big jobs:

  • writing–this includes our WIP, blog posts, articles, anything that gets our name out there as a writer and lets us practice our art. On a good day, this might be 60% of what I do.
  • publishing–includes managing media outlets, getting our work and name out there, finding an agent. This varies from 5% to 80% of a day’s activities.
  • marketing–finding people who are interested in our writing. Like publishing, this varies depending upon where I am in the writing cycle.

This is most often aside from the Real Job we-all hold to pay the bills, support families, keep us in Starbucks.

With the holidays approaching, I created a TODO list to help me stay organized:

  1. finish the tech thriller I’ve been working on forever.
  2. stay on top of trends in my technology-in-education field. That includes Common Core (a firestorm sweeping the education landscape–yikes!), differentiation, one-on-one education, online education–I could go on. Just reading about this stuff, much less integrating it into my knowledge base, has become daunting. But it’s the cape I wear. Sigh.
  3. answer daily inquiries–this includes requests for help and advice, doing interviews and radio shows, reviewing materials. These are interesting, often unexpected. And always time consuming. Deciding whether I’m a good fit for someone takes a lot of research on my part. I don’t want to promise something I can’t deliver, or disappoint them when I do. It’s all avoidable if I spend upfront time.
  4. market books I’ve published. My marketing is the free sort and includes:

  • my publisher’s website
  • other book outlets
  • blogs
  • wikis
  • social networks
  • word-of-mouth

I subscribe to the ‘five a day’ approach to marketing–seeking out five new people who I haven’t met each day. Sometimes, all that means is 5 tweets. Other days, it’s more involved.

So, I set up a holiday schedule that I hope will accomplish those goals while satisfying the three jobs writer’s do. Three jobs–three parts to the day. Sounds simple. Of course, it only applies when I have full free days:


  1. post to my blogs
  2. write book reviews–I like reading reviews of books I might buy, and it turns out, so do my readers.
  3. keep in touch with my social network of writers, friends, colleagues
  4. prepare and tape webinars, online classes
  5. let creativity flower–see what my brain is working on. That’s quite often something else entirely than my plans.


  1. work on my WIP–currently, a series of books on Common Core in the classroom (sound boring? You’re not a teacher!)
  2. if I need a creativity break, read other people’s writing. I find lots of inspiration in that


  1. respond to requests to guest blog, emails–that sort of thing
  2. update my website (must do that weekly or Google will stop finding me)
  3. market my current books on my current outlets
  4. fulfill freelance writing gigs. These are fun and get me thinking outside my box. I always spend too long on these.
  5. read in my genre–thrillers and technology-in-education

I’ve done this before–scheduled stuff–and it didn’t go so well. Morning jobs leaked into afternoon big time. It takes a long time to write blog posts because I get into them. I get distracted by the fun-ness of it. The social networks are a black hole of time. There’s no way I can find to stay on top of them.

The afternoon writing went better than planned. It’s nice to get into the book without having to put it aside for the day job and keeping track is so much easier if I stick with it. I need six-eight hours a day of writing, which I’m not getting with just ‘afternoons’, so I’m going to have to rework the schedule.

The evening stuff–if I’m being truthful, I’m pretty brain tired by evenings and not always effective. I keep watching the clock, waiting for 9pm when I call it a day. That’s not to say I don’t get a lot done; it’s just not as much fun as the rest of the day.

What’s your day like? Give me some suggestions that might help me!

More posts about writing:

5 Ways to Write Like Your Hair’s on Fire

Do You Really Want to Try to Earn a Living as a Writer?

Traditional or Indie? I’m Really Stressed Over This

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is editor of a K-8 technology curriculum and technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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