by Amy Sue Nathan
It has taken me until the middle of summer settle to meld doing publicity for my debut novel, The Glass Wives, with my writing schedule for my new novel.
Better late than never, right? Let's hope so.
In writing and in life, I'm a big proponent of do what works for you.
But what if you don't know what that is?
I stopped working on my new novel around the time The Glass Wives launched in May. I was promoting the book, thinking about promoting the book, traveling to promote the book, and worrying about promoting the book. So, I didn't get a lot of writing done. I didn't get a lot of anything done outside book promotion, except the mandatory life stuff. Like lunch.
When things settled down a bit, I tried different ways of getting back to the work-in-progress: word counts, hours in front of the monitor, outlines, bullet-points, brainstorming sessions. What I needed was a plan for forging ahead with the new book while I was still promoting the first book with verve. Can't stop doing one to do the other. Usually, I'm a great a multi-tasker, but I couldn't figure out how to immerse myself in writing one book while I was talking and writing about the other. How was I going to be involved with two sets of characters? How was The Glass Wives not going to bleed into the new book (as of yet untitled, argh).
Every time I wrote a bit of the WIP, I worried I was losing time and energy to promote The Glass Wives. Every time I got inside the head of my new main character, Izzy Lane, I worried she was too much like the one already on the bookshelves. And, every time I was talking or thinking about The Glass Wives, ideas struck me for the WIP and I scampered for a pen and paper (which I can never find). The stories and characters are different, I had to keep them separate, but couldn't. These books were equally important even though they were, and are, at different stages.
But I couldn't stop promoting The Glass Wives to write more of Izzy's tale. Must write new, promote old. Heck, I hope one day to be writing, editing, and promoting simultaneously, so I figured I better get a handle on it before I have to get a handle on being an empty nester, which is in four weeks. Not that I'm counting. And you might be thinking: HEY! She'll have all the time she needs. Remember, we are all more than writers. And when life shifts, so do our mindsets, priorities and emotions. When my daughter went to kindergarten (my son was in second grade) I walked around the house for three weeks wondering what to do with a whole day to myself. So you see, I'm going to have to also reconcile the writer, promoter, editor, and blogger with the empty-nester.
Luckily, what I realized just a week or two ago, is that I needed to really compartmentalize. Completely. I am still fortunate to be working from home and be the master of my own schedule so I decided that because I am the kind of writer who needs to be all-in, that different days would be dedicated to different parts of my life. So far, so good (except when I forget something). While this is a snapshot of the bulk of my energy, every single day I'm making lists about things that need to get done on other days. I'm alway on Twitter. I answer emails the same day I receive them. But having a focus has allowed me to consciously let go of big things in small bites, because I know where they fit back into my week. The fact was, I knew I was always going to promote The Glass Wives. What I didn't know how to do was everything else.
So, now on Mondays I'm looking for jobs outside the home, paying bills, taking care of anything related to my house, because there's always something. These things exhaust me emotionally. There is no writing energy. But what I have found is that on Mondays I do have energy for reading. For someone who usually just reads on weekends, that was a bonus.
On Tuesdays I write the new novel all day. All day!! I make notes if something about job-hunting or promotion hits me, but it's a day I have given over to Izzy Lane. She loves me for it. I'm hoping readers will too!
It's on Wednesdays that I divide time between the new novel and blogging (eh hem). I run Women's Fiction Writers (WFW), and write for several group blogs. Mid-week is a great time to make sure things are lined up, scheduled, on-track. It's also the day I'll grocery shop. (Yes, seems I have to schedule it.)
Thursdays I'm back to Izzy Lane. Writing, revising, polishing. Sometimes outlining and planning. Whatever I'm doing (taking out the trash, showering, playing with the dogs, college shopping) I'm also in the new novel mindset without feeling guilty or like I'm neglecting The Glass Wives.
On Fridays I plan the weekend and finish up things undone. Because schedules are great but life gets in the way. Sometimes a friend is need. Sometimes I need a nap (it's true). If I need to do a major push with promotion, have an interview to complete or a guest post to answer or a speech to write, it gets done on Friday.
On Saturday and Sunday mornings I read. And I'm talking for hours. Or, I read again. I didn't read at all for those first months after my book came out. I couldn't concentrate. Once Saturday comes, I do whatever I want. Usually what I want has something to do with writing. (Am I the only writer who dreams of a vacation and that means more writing?) I often write essays and that's a great day for it. Even though my weeks bleed into my weekends, Saturdays have their own vibe. Sometimes that vibe dictates I just watch TV. I love TV. On Sundays after I read, I write interviews for WFW and make sure I'm on track for the week with everything. There is much list-writing involved.
And on Mondays, I get that businessy stuff out of the way again so the rest of the week I can concentrate on the work that makes me happy! (that would be writing)
The truth is, I dip in and out of promoting The Glass Wives all the time, writing or not. I can't imagine I'll ever stop. Not until there's a new book to promote and then I'll probably say, "Hey, did you know? I wrote this other book too!" And hopefully I'll also say...and I'm also working on book number three!
AMY SUE NATHAN lives and writes near Chicago where she hosts the popular blog, Women's Fiction Writers. She has published articles in Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune and New York Times Online among many others. Amy is the proud mom of a son and a daughter in college, and a willing servant to two rambunctious rescued dogs.