Hey, everyone! Things have been crazy lately. Between new marketing ventures, website upkeep, marketing on Facebook, and writing, my days have been full! So full, in fact, that I was finding myself getting overwhelmed and spiraling.
Being an indie author, even one signed to a small publishing house, is somewhat like being a small business owner yourself. You’re responsible for creating the way people see you, how often your backstock gets marketed, marketing new work, social media presence, maintaining daily interactions with readers, oh and then there’s writing too!
Now, I love what I do. For anyone who’s been here for a while, y’all know this is what I’ve wanted to do all my life. I adore being able to share my work with readers and having a publisher who believes in me is something I take seriously. As such, my perfectionist streak was taking over in a big way and pulling me down a rabbit hole of 14-hour (often more) workdays, 7 days a week. Let me tell you, 14 hours of staring at a laptop is not fabulous for the eyes. No one told me I needed to do this, I just did it. I became a serious workaholic. It got to the point where my brain was staying so wired that I wasn’t falling asleep until 3 in the morning, sometimes 4. Then I’d roll out of bed and do it all over.
So, how did I fix it, you might ask?
I can’t count how many times someone told me to treat this like a “real” job. It’s not a hobby for me, so that line of logic always made sense. What I didn’t take into consideration is the fact that even my publisher has business hours. One day, the idea of those hours lodged in my brain along with Dolly Parton’s song Nine to Five. I tabulated how many hours (give or take) I was working in a week and it made my head spin. No wonder I was feeling overwhelmed! Erin (my publisher) has told me so many times this is a marathon and not a sprint, but I had been running full bore. I was in danger of burnout in a major way, so I implemented business hours for myself. I work for eight hours a day, half hour for lunch, six days a week. That’s roughly 45 hours of work. Still a full-time job. When my alarm goes off in the morning, I don’t let myself get distracted. The most important part, though, is when my alarm goes off in the evenings, I’m done. No more work. I can think about story ideas, or things I want to do for marketing, make a few notes, but no more pushing my brain! I make sure to take Sundays off too. Time with family is as important to my creativity as anything else. These memories will shape stories later after all.
In doing this, my job doesn’t seem so daunting as a whole anymore. I list out my tasks for the day, schedule what I need in order to make sure I have that one free day, and tick off items one at a time. If I don’t get something done (assuming I’m not on a deadline), it will still be there in the morning with I have some energy in my braincells again.
There have been so many learning curves in my publishing journey and learning to find balance has been one of the most important for me. Without it, I was heading for nothing good. So, for anyone else out there struggling to find balance, I see you. My story is different from yours, I’m sure, but please, you’re worth more than running yourself into the ground. Whatever balance is for you, do whatever you can to find it. This isn’t a test life. This is the one life you get.