On Writing

Write Like It’s Your Job

Write Like It’s Your Job

Living between the worlds of motherhood, ministry, homeschooling, and writing, there’s a lot that makes its way on my calendar and my to do list. Which means that the tasks that aren’t as necessary to the well-being of others or the day-to-day functioning of home and family life get pushed to the “when there’s more time” list.

That’s where writing has taken up residence.

I’ve had spurts of work and focus, long seasons where I blogged regularly, published an Advent devotional, and worked on different writing projects. But year after year, I’ve found myself discouraged and frustrated that I didn’t have a rhythm of writing.

I can’t remember a time I sat down to write specific writing goals with action steps and a deadline. I treat other endeavors like a job–homeschooling, Wild + Free, and women’s ministry. I set aside time to work, write, study, and prepare for each, but writing has waited for the white space of time. Writing only affects me. No one’s waiting for a lesson plan, event details, or a bible study.

I’m the only one waiting. 

I’ve decided I don’t want to wait anymore, but I need a realistic plan to work toward these goals. My calendar is still full (though I am saying no more often and relinquishing duties), but if I’m going to accomplish my writing goals, I’m going to need more than open spaces on my calendar. I’m going to need a plan.

Break it down.

Think about a blog post–it doesn’t sound like much work? Maybe 30 minutes, right? But to write, edit, create images, update plugins, and schedule it–that takes more than the time to write. 

Consider writing your book–You want to finish your manuscript. All you need to do is sit down and write? Maybe in the beginning. But what about research time? Outlining your chapters, reviewing your word count? Filling plot holes? Finding beta readers? Reading books on writing to delve into character development and story structure?

Self-publishing–Which company will you publish with? Will you self-edit or hire an editor? How will you find them? Will you create your own book cover or hire a designer? How will you go about choosing them? How will you format your book? Get it ready for eReaders? And then, do you have a book launch team and a marketing plan?

The path to being an author is more than creating a story–though you couldn’t be an author without it!

There are many steps that go into the task of writing toward the goal of publishing than just writing. It can feel overwhelmingly daunting when you realize the minutiae that goes into writing, publishing, and connecting with readers. 

We do ourselves a disservice when we consider our calendar and only schedule time to focus on our work-in-progress.

What’s the answer?

Write Like Its Your Job. 

I have given my time to so many things over the years and have invested hours into different projects for my family and my community. To achieve my writing goals, I will have to say no to things and take a lesser role in other things. To make progress on our writing goals, we’ll have to treat writing like a job rather than a “when I have time” hobby.

How am I planning to do this? 

Make your writing goals realistic & specific.

I’m getting specific, keeping my goals actionable, realistic to my time and responsibilities, scheduling my writing tasks, and time specific with a deadline.

My writing goals for 2020 are

  1. Finish my first draft of The Sea & All Its Stars.
  2. Blog 2-3 times a month at The Reluctant Sojourner.
  3. Create a monthly content planner for my blog and social media.
  4. (Re)Launch my monthly newsletter, Between Worlds.
  5. Edit and publish Find Your Voice.
  6. Find and join a writer Mastermind group. Local or online.
  7. Connect with authors, writers, and readers on social media.
  8. Find an editor and book cover designer.
  9. Edit the final draft of The Sea & All Its Stars by August.
  10. Draft new projects and/or revisit old projects to evaluate.

Assign Goals to Quarterly Goals

Then I broke those goals down by quarter. I won’t work on every goal every quarter. Some goals will only need attention for a specific time, others will need to be broken up over a couple of months or quarters. I including what I call “tending goals,” the tasks that will repeat each month but support my overall goals. 

For example, in Quarter 1 (January – March), my goals are to 

  • Blog 6-9 times over 3 months
  • Relaunch the Between Worlds newsletter
  • Make a Content Planner
  • Schedule content for the Content Planner 
  • Write 2 newsletters
  • Finish first draft
  • Find a Mastermind Group
  • Start Find Your Voice edits

But still those are pretty broad tasks, right? 

Break down each goal into monthly tasks.

Next I divided my quarterly goals across the three months of the quarter with deadlines for each monthly task. However, I won’t break down my quarterly goals into actionable monthly tasks until the beginning of that quarter. 

Why? Things change. Goals change. Some things may need more time, while others may be unnecessary when that quarter rolls around. 

Create a project sheet for each goal.

Creating a project sheet helps me see all the tasks and steps involved or needed to accomplish each goal. This helps me tackle a goal in manageable chunks of time instead of saying, “I need to build my email list” and sitting down to do the research, create the graphics, write the newsletter, etc and emerge six hours later feeling overwhelmed and exhausted without a newsletter. 

It can sound like a lot of work, but it helps to stay focused on this task for this week. It helps to focus my attention and energy. If I have a date set for when I’m going to compile a list of book editors, then I don’t need to go on a whim one day scrolling the internet and end up down a publishing rabbit hole that leaves me feeling frantic. There’s a day and time assigned to that.

It also means, when I do get to my scheduled time of researching editors or working on plot I can more fully devote my attention and energy, as well as have a place to compile my notes. It’s also wise to schedule time for just writing on your manuscript and time for tasks to support your writing and road to publication. Both can be considered writing. For example, I have writing slots for MWF that are for manuscript and writing tasks, while Tuesday and Thursday are just writing.

Do today’s work today and leave tomorrow’s work for tomorrow. 

Little by little with writing rhythms and routines, understanding our season of life and differing responsibilities, being realistic, and just doing the work, we can write like it’s our job and work toward our writing goals.

Want to keep up with me as I write like it’s my job?

Do you want to join in? 

Follow me on Instagram at @jesslyn.mueller and the hashtag #writelikeitsyourjob, or follow on Facebook at The Reluctant Sojourner