Januarys come, and Januarys go
“I just can’t fit it in right now. You know, the end-of-year craziness. Can we talk again in January?” Sure, I respond flatly. Then January comes and you say, “I was hoping things would quiet down, but it’s the first quarter and, you know, the pressure is on.”
Yes, I know. I’ve heard the story before. High-achieving women who have a dream to write a book aren’t usually sitting around wondering how to spend their day. You choose to live a very full life. Carving even ten minutes out of your day is a significant undertaking.
But if this is the umpteenth January that has come and gone without a single word written, it’s time for a new strategy.
Strategy? Before you write? Based on what you’ve told me January after January, it’s a must. I am sure you have a business strategy complete with contingencies, right? So you already know the power of strategy. Then it should be easy to understand how an author strategy would be an important tool.
But this strategy has little to do with your book. It’s an author strategy, so it’s all about you. Think of it as your pre-journey checklist, like checking the oil and tires and filling the gas tank. It’s the stuff you do before you head out on a long journey. Here’s what it looks like.
Clear the decks
Many first-time authors assume they will just “figure it out” or “cram it in somewhere” instead of preparing for their book writing journey. If you’ve tried this ‘pantser’ approach, you might already know that failing to plan is, well, not helpful. Here's how to create an author strategy now, before January comes around again.
Critique your calendar. Spend some quality time with your calendar to identify time drainers, over-commitments, and non-critical tasks. Don’t panic and think you have to free up huge chunks of time. Small time slots are highly valuable. Plus, it’s a great year-end habit to assess where your time is being spent. It’s amazing how stuff creeps in and steals our time when we’re not paying attention.
Set a timeline. Decide that for the next 6 months, 12 months, etc. this is how you will invest your time. Remember, this is a temporary situation while you write your book.
Eliminate tasks. Identify at least one time drainer beginning in January. Delegate, postpone, or say no to tasks and projects that don't fit into your strategy. This includes both professional and personal life.
Make it public. Tell your family, friends, and colleagues about your book project and strategy. Post it on social media, if that’s your vibe. The visibility and support will keep you motivated.
Shift your mindset. It’s funny how much we struggle to use the term author. Remember when you first started your business? First became a vice president, a wife, a mother or an athlete? The title feels awkward until you get used to it. Start right now.
Find your rhythm. Once you create an opening in your calendar, fill it immediately with a recurring meeting just for writing. Make it non-negotiable, like your salon appointments. If you plan to work with a ghostwriter, book a standing meeting with me. Yes, this is a selfless plug, but it works. My clients never miss a meeting while we are writing their book. Reschedule a meeting, yes. But they never miss one. That built-in accountability plays a major role in getting the job done.
An author strategy sounds and feels formal, like a glamourous party dress. And it pairs nicely with commitment.
So, please, don’t go into another January by the seat of your pants.