A Non-writing Work Day

Marketing & Promotion, Writing Process

I have been a full-time author for seven months. In that time I’ve turned in a draft of the second book on my contract, finished and sold two picture book manuscripts, and revised and sold a middle grade novel. But for the past seven weeks while waiting on my edit letter for my second YA novel, I’ve been taking a step back from writing and exploring other creative outlets.

When I was teaching, writing was my escape. Now that writing is my full-time job, I needed another. So I recently started a podcast called Author Pep Talks, which is a podcast on writing through grief, trauma, and heartache, in which I interview authors who have personal experience balancing writing with difficult experiences and who offer advice on how to maintain a creative practice even when it feels like everything else in the world is falling apart.

The introduction aired on Christmas day and the first episode went live just yesterday! So please check it out and if you enjoy the first episode, remember to like and subscribe!

I’ve also been working on launching a podcast for an organization I’m a part of called Las Musas. The teaser went live on December 28th and the first episode airs on Monday, January 4th. There are a few ongoing series all about debut year and then an “Ask a Musa” series where we’ll be answering listener questions. I hope you’ll give it a listen and follow us wherever you enjoy your podcasts.

Right now, these two endeavors have absolutely no ties to my income and I love it. It’s so nice to be working on these passion projects that allow me to be creative in a whole new way. I’ve learned to edit audio files, have become so much more comfortable listening to my own voice on a recording, and I’ve met so many awesome people who I wouldn’t have otherwise reached out to.

I’m also three months out from debut so I’m taking care of lots of admin-related tasks, such as sending out ARCs, creating graphics for social media, and planning virtual events for April. So I thought I’d give those who are curious a snapshot of what a “non-writing work day” looks like for me as of late.

7:00 AM
The puppy is awake! Take her out to potty and then hold her teething ring while she gnaws on it. Try to share her doing something cute on my Insta stories like wriggling under the bed or sucking on her hedgehog but it’s tough because she’s camera shy.

8:00 AM
Gambit’s awake and everyone’s hungry. I feed the dogs, take my vitamins, and eat a breakfast bar. There wasn’t any rain last night so we play in the backyard, which as per usual, is me and Gambit playing fetch while Storm has the zoomies.

9:00 AM
Storm’s getting sleepy. I turn off all the lights and pretend to nap until Storm dozes off. Really I’m checking email on my phone.

9:15 AM
I put Storm back in her crate for a nap and finally grab my laptop. I answer emails, create my checklist for the day, and then begin working my way through it.

Today, my checklist looked like this:
1. Read edit letter & jot down notes.
2. Read editors in-line comments & jot down notes
3. Finish blog post on reflections over 7-week break
4. Write new blog post on identity & POV characters
5. Write *this blog post* about my schedule on a non-writing work day
6. Edit episode three of the Author Pep Talks podcast
7. Record the intro/outro for episode 3
8. Record pep talks #2 & #3
9. Send emails to creative writing teachers to schedule virtual school visits
10. Write 4 librarian postcards for a total of 9/50
11. Look for tea blends to send my grandfather
12. Create the social graphics for Author Pep Talks launch day

9:30 AM
I read my editor’s edit letter and am relieved that no issues were pointed out that I wasn’t already expecting. I jot some notes in my phone of possible solutions to some character development issues. Then I open the manuscript and read her in-line comments, savoring the really nice ones.

10:00 AM
I hop on WordPress and finish writing the blog post I started the night before. I tend to be struck by inspiration for blog posts all at once so I’ll be prepping and scheduling multiple posts today.

After I finish the blog post reflecting on the seven weeks I just spent taking a break from writing, I switch to writing a blog post about identity and POV characters. I use notes from a presentation I gave recently as a basis for the post and detail how I try to make ethical choices as a storyteller by “staying in my lane” in terms of writing rep for pov characters. After I schedule the post, I move on to this one and outline what a non-writing workday looks like for me until I’m interrupted by the dogs again.

12:00 PM
Gambit wakes up the puppy but it’s okay because it’s lunch time and I need a break. We go outside and Storm finds a piece of trash and I chase her around the backyard for twenty minutes until she gets tired and collapses in the grass. I play fetch with Gambit until he’s tired and then they both lay in the sun while I make my lunch.

12:30 PM
I’m one of those people who eats the same thing for lunch every single day. Mind you, I will go through phases in which I switch it up but I can go months eating the same meal and still enjoy it. For the past few weeks I’ve been eating a giant Honey crisp apple with almond butter, cheese, and salted pretzels.

1:00 PM
I play with the dogs some more–tug-of-war with a ratty rope we should have thrown away a long time ago but haven’t because for some reason they love it–and then I hold Storm’s teething hedgehog until she finally starts to get sleepy again.

1:50 PM
I feed Storm a little early since she’s starting to get sleepy. Gambit doesn’t get lunch so he pouts on the couch.

2:00 PM
Storm goes down for a nap and I set up my mic in my office to record some things for my Author Pep Talks podcast, which includes an intro and outro for the third interview and two short episodes where I give a pep talk to writers.

3:00 PM
Storm wakes up an hour early from her nap! I play with the dogs AGAIN but they’re being lazy so I try to work on filling out some postcards for librarians at the kitchen table while they lounge in the sun. This doesn’t work and when Storm starts digging holes I bring them inside.

4:00 PM
Storm’s sleepy but she won’t let me put her in her crate for a nap so I put on the Ariana Grande concert on Netflix for the dogs while I add some more timestamps to this blog post. Storm is fascinated and doesn’t take her eyes off the screen.

4:30 PM
The intro for the Author Pep Talks podcast goes up in a few days (I’m actually writing this on Thursday, December 24th) so I open Canva to make some promotional graphics. I also type up some copy to post with my Twitter and Instagram announcements.

5:00 PM
The Las Musas podcast launches next week so I go ahead and type up some copy for those promotional posts. Storm finally dozes off.

5:20 PM
I check Twitter to pull book news for the Las Musas newsletter, which I’m taking over in 2021.

5:30 PM
Storm wakes up again and I know I won’t be able to check anything else off my to-do list for the day so those leftover tasks will carry over for tomorrow.

In total, I got about four and a half hours of work done, which compared to my pre-puppy schedule isn’t a lot. But I’m so glad that I no longer have to squeeze in these tasks in between teaching, which means that those 5-7 days a week of working 4-ish hours really adds up quickly.

I’m also trying to see the positive in being forced to take breaks. Tending to the dogs helps ground me in the present and I love getting those much-needed doses of vitamin C while we play in the backyard together. Also, I’ve come to realize that play is so important. It’s joyous and liberating and just overall great for the soul.

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