Cannot stand, cannot sit, cannot rest a little bit

plant_rice

Planting rice is no fun, bent from morn to set of sun;
Cannot stand, cannot sit, cannot rest a little bit.

— Traditional ditty from the Philippines

Being self-employed is a bit like stooping to plant rice in that I’m perpetually in a state that’s somewhere between work and play, between standing and sitting. My hours and tasks are flexible, which is worth a lot. But I must also be perpetually “on” and ready to pitch my work, capture an idea, keep track of something, or network with others, which asks a lot of an introvert who needs regular down time.

Being an author or writer isn’t just pounding away at the keyboard for eight hours a day. I was startled by all the other tasks that are Part of Being an Author, and shocked by how much time they take. Here’s what’s part of The Writing Life nowadays.

Writing

  • Write (obviously)
  • Procrastinate (definitely)
  • Think (lots)
  • Research (look bizarre stuff up on Google, mostly)
  • Organize files on the computer
  • Learn how to use new writing tools on the computer
  • Struggle with sync issues and I wish SimpleNote still worked but it doesn’t and why do iOS writing apps always have to use Dropbox for syncing which gives me so little storage on the free plan and Why can’t they ever use Box instead where I have all those free gigs of storage space?

Craft / education (get better at writing)

  • Read stuff other people have written. Lots of it. For better or for worse.
  • Take writing courses (online or in person)
  • Go to writing conferences
  • Read books
  • Watch webinars
  • Participate in critique groups
    • Write and submit something
    • Read others’ submissions
    • Provide feedback on others’ submissions
    • Integrate others’ feedback into my own writing
  • Find beta readers for manuscripts and other written pieces

Editing

  • Re-reading everything I have written
  • Edit, update, change, reorganize text, etc.
  • Format text and documents
  • Look up stupid basic grammar rules I should have down pat by now

Marketing

  • Write blurbs and other marketing materials for each book
  • Set up and maintain an author website
  • Troubleshoot said website when things don’t go as planned
  • Post on social media accounts (requires thinking of what to say on social media accounts!)
  • Keep track of stats on social media accounts and website
  • Find reviewers for books

Publishing

  • Search for images for the cover of the book
  • Design book cover
  • Design book cover in multiple sizes
  • Design book cover in yet another size because a distributor changed their guidelines
  • Assemble ebooks
  • Test ebooks
  • Fix ebooks
  • Set pricing
  • Struggle with self-worth issues
  • Reset pricing upwards
  • Upload said ebooks to various distributor websites: put in marketing copy, taglines, categories, etc.

Networking

  • Participate in writers’ social groups
  • Speak at events
  • Join writers organizations
  • Join mailing lists and read dozens of emails and newsletters

Administrative

  • Track royalties and sales (hah!)
  • Track income (hah!) and expenses
  • Educate myself about self-employment taxes and other legal responsibilities
  • Bookkeeping and budgeting