I might as well just admit it right here at the beginning. In regards to writing, the only discipline involved is me trying to make myself stop writing That’s right. Stop. Close up shop at the end of the day. Take a day off. Take a weekend off. Believe it or not, this has taken an immense amount of willpower along with a husband willing to kidnap my laptop.
It’s actually been quite a few years since I had to turn over my laptop on the one day off a week that I allowed myself, but even now, due to my affection for Twitter, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea. Being published (or having sold a book, really) changed a lot of things for me too, so it wasn’t all discipline that got me to start taking weekends off. Selling the book took the pressure off (self-induced pressure, I might add). It allowed me to believe that getting published just might happen and perhaps I could chill a bit more.
My agent also sets a good example. Unless it’s an emergency, he’s pretty much unavailable on the weekends. I know he reads his email, but he doesn’t answer. One day, I thought to myself, if my agent, who has way more to do and a lot more people relying on him, can take weekends off, what exactly do I have to do that’s so important that I have to work six days a week and pretend to take one off? It’s not like publishing is going at the speed of light and I’m trying to catch up. Heck, at a walking pace I can (and have) lapped publishing multiple times.
It also occurred to me that getting out of the house occasionally might make my husband a bit happier too. I mean, he’s really good at pretending to listen to me go on and on about writing and publishing and books at the dinner table, but maybe he wouldn’t have to fake-listen if I had something else to talk about.
Until a few months ago, I’d actually gotten into a really good pattern. I wrote Monday to Friday, four to six hours a day, and took weekends off. But then I handed in my second book and turned to marketing Restoring Harmony. The problem with marketing is that I’m really good at it. And the better you are, the more work each task creates. I found that every email I sent, generated more things to do in the form of answers needed, interviews, event planning, and giveaways to organize. This is a real problem for a person who hates to have emails in her inbox and a to-do list that carries over. I found that days-off fell by the wayside, and if I wasn’t careful, I’d put in ten or twelve hours a day. And guess what? I am not made for that kind of workday.
In the end, I practically had a meltdown. But I learned some important things too. I learned that it’s okay to carry over your to-do list from one day to the next. And I remembered that if you don’t take days off, you end up freaking out and having to take a week off right before your launch or you’ll lose your mind. I also learned that people are generous and understanding and they don’t care if it takes you two or three days to answer their email. It doesn’t have to be answered the second it pops into your box (in fact, if it is answered quickly, they’re likely to answer back quickly and it can go on and on!).
And the most important thing I learned? If I write well…really, really well, and because it won’t be my debut, I can probably do a lot less marketing for my next book. And writing is exactly the reason I got into this in the first place. Plus, it doesn’t take any discipline at all!