writing life

Business vs. Writing

Because I love optimizing things, I’ve been thinking more about ways to get better work-life balance, and one thing I realized is that what tires my brain and burns me out isn’t the writing part. It’s the business side of things and more analytical stuff, things like editing, marketing, bookkeeping, publishing, etc. That also includes non-fiction writing, where there’s interviewing, chasing down interview subjects, writing, editing, invoicing, etc. Making stuff up is the fun part of my work.

But the business side of things has to be done if I want to make a living at the fun stuff. I have to do all the things it takes to get a book published in order for it to be able to make any money, and I need to do marketing if I want to sell books. The non-fiction writing is helping supplement my income. I’d love to be able to stop it entirely, but right now the book sales aren’t there and I’m grateful to have this opportunity.

The problem for me lately has been that I’ve been in pure business mode for the past month or so. I’ve been editing, proofreading, dealing with covers, doing a lot of little marketing tasks and doing a lot of freelance non-fiction writing. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to just make things up. No wonder I’m tired!

I think I may start a routine of Fiction Fridays. All the business stuff will happen early in the week, and Fridays will be devoted to making stuff up. This will be less of an issue when I’m actually writing a book, but will be a good thing to do when I’m in the middle of Business Mode. That’ll remind me of why I’m doing all the business stuff. I can’t do it today because I have an article due, but I should be able to wrap that up quickly (it’s written, so I just need to polish it up a bit and edit it) and then go to some more fun work.

A few years ago, I had Getting Stuff Done Wednesdays, so that I spent two days doing intense writing and nothing else, then did all the other stuff on Wednesdays, including errands. It was also choir night, so it was a short day, anyway. Then two more days of intense writing without anything else to worry about. That fell by the wayside when I had too much stuff to get done in one day, and I found that I dreaded Wednesdays and didn’t get any writing momentum when I broke off midway during the week. What I may do is designate a Getting Stuff Done hour daily for all the little tasks. Bigger tasks like proofreading and editing will have to be scheduled separately.

I probably won’t be able to get back to actual writing of fiction until next month, so I’ll have a few weeks to play with this concept and see how it works. Meanwhile, I’m doing better about shutting off the work-related activity earlier in the evening and doing something else for fun, and I think it’s giving me a bit more mental energy. July’s going to be a challenge because I’m doing an online conference that runs on weekends. A lot of the sessions are recorded, so I can watch them whenever, but there will be roundtable discussions and Q&A sessions on the weekends. I may have to work more relaxation into weekdays so I don’t overdo it.

And lest anyone worry, I’m not in any kind of real burnout or other emotional trouble. This is mostly me noticing that I’m starting to run out of steam, recognizing some patterns, and doing preventative maintenance to avoid trouble. It’s like putting on a coat when you notice it’s getting cold, long before you’re in danger of hypothermia.

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