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Dear Indie Annie,

My last self-published book took off, and I’m finally gaining traction as an author. I’m eager to release my next book as soon as possible to keep the momentum going. But I need help to keep a regular writing schedule while also managing tons of promotional work. How can I stay productive and timely in getting my next book written?

Juggling in Jersey City

Dear Juggling,

I understand the struggle to keep writing while promoting your first book! Publishing momentum is hard won but easily lost. However, with a few tricks and tremendous tenacity, you can tackle both writing and promotion.

First, treat writing time like a sacred obligation—non-negotiable blocks in your schedule, come hell or high water. Set a writing goal for each session: five hundred words, two pages, one good paragraph—anything to keep the draft moving. Even Hemingway had to sit his butt in the chair!

Establish a regular writing cadence, whether daily, weekly, or monthly. Stephen King famously writes two thousand words every morning to fuel his prolific output. Find a rhythm that works and stick to it.

Limit distractions during writing time by turning off notifications, closing tabs, and silencing your phone. Creating fiction demands an uninterrupted flow of ideas; outside “pings” break that flow. Take a page from J. K. Rowling’s book and write your first drafts longhand, if needed, to minimize distractions.

On the promotion side, schedule social media in bulk, several tweets or posts in advance, rather than reacting to every ping. Pre-plan blog content for the month, and automate routine social tasks. The time you save not managing socials minute by minute can be devoted to writing instead.

Delegate other tasks wherever you can. Hire out some repetitive promotion tasks, or even invest in a part-time social media manager or publicist. The more tasks you remove from your plate, the more mental space and creativity you’ll have for writing.

Remember, your words come first. If a promotional opportunity does not directly advance your next book, say no. Set boundaries that honor your writing as a sacred priority above all else. Toni Morrison famously wrote by hand with the curtains drawn for this very reason!

Join an accountability group or writing challenge to keep yourself on track. Maybe you could join millions of other authors in a writing challenge like November’s annual National Novel Writing Month event. Many enthusiasts love collecting digital badges for their achievements. Personally, such organized communal jollity is my idea of hell. I would rather book a cabin in the woods and cut myself off from the world, preferably with a ready supply of cake, gin, and fruit mixers. A hot tub would sweeten the deal. The point is, my darling one, you need to find what works for you. 

Once you have started, the most important thing is to trust the process. As Zora Neale Hurston said, “If you’re in suspense as to completion, just keep on going, and the end will come right.” Your fingers know the way, even if your mind gets lost along the road.

Sweetheart, whilst we all dream of being published and getting our precious baby out into the world, that’s when the actual work begins. Ask any parent with more than one child: having the first was tough. It was terrifyingly new and exciting, with so much to learn. But baby number two changes the game all over again. You have to find time to do all you did with number one with the next child and still keep their older sibling alive. At times, it will seem impossible, and maybe you’ll find that something has to give so you can cope. But ask parents with three, four, or more offspring, and they will assure you it gets easier. You will learn what is important. You will prioritize more effectively. You will establish processes that make your life easier. And you will find time to get your books washed and ready for bed every night. 

Keep marching forward, my darling Juggling! Your next masterpiece and army of fans await—and the words are already within you. You just need to give yourself the space, schedule, and sacred stillness to let them flow freely onto the page.

Happy writing,

Indie Annie

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Indie Annie

Have questions about your own writing and publishing? Ask Indie Annie, our take on the advice column, penned by an irreverent and sassy avatar with a flair for fashionable scarves and a tipple in her teacup.

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