Deadlines, Platform, Life Commitments, Oh My!

image by geralt

Have you ever felt so frazzled, you couldn’t find the panic button?

You may even ask, “How could this happen? I’m an organized person.”

Last week as I shuffled through my Writer’s Digest magazines, I spotted the February 2017 issue’s article, “Map Your Writing Time” by Sage Cohen. I gauged Ms. Cohen’s suggestions with how I use them.

Ms. Cohen’s Suggestions

1. Articulate your destination. I prioritize my writing and personal goals every week. I divvy up tasks then enter them on my scheduling template, which already displays regular tasks. I put an * next to writing, platform, speaking, and marketing tasks. On the side, l record future tasks to schedule. If I can, I include some padding. Then I report my goals with an * to my accountability partners.

2.  Make one goal inform another to “allocate your time in a way that delivers the greatest value.” I often use the projects I’m working on as subjects of my blogs. For example, when I did a book signing for my first book, I wrote a blog post from my research and experience. Reviewing that post while I write this one, reminded me of tasks I need for the bookstore signing I’m doing this Saturday.

3.  Set timers so you don’t spend too much time on nonwriting tasks. No problem. I have two devices in my office, but I’ll now use the timers more on nonwriting tasks.

4,  Use nonwriting commitments to service your writing. I always mull writing ideas during long drives to scheduled obligations. I’ll brainstorm my protagonist’s goals on my half-hour drive to my writers’ group tomorrow.

image by geralt

5.  If you’re repeatedly drawn toward a project that’s not a top priority, consider moving it there. Although I scheduled work on my new novel, my non-fiction kept calling me to finish it ahead of deadline and send it. After reading this suggestion, I’m doing that.

6.  Don’t waste perfectly good slivers of time. I’m writing now while my husband attends an evening meeting.

7. Rise an hour earlier when it’s quiet. I get up at 5:30, but I’m considering 5:00 for a short duration while I’m under two deadlines and know galleys are coming soon for a third book.

8.  Leave notes where you stop working. I suppose I should expand on “STOPPED HERE.”

image by stevepb

9.  Track your time on tasks and learn how much time you need so you’ll know better what tasks and projects you can take on. Good idea, but I don’t have time. :0)

10.  Stop panicking and appreciate the time you have and the progress you’re making in that time. I’ll appreciate my time and progress more. I’m already thankful for a husband who takes over housework so I can write. He’s also taken over some marketing tasks.

Reading Ms. Cohen’s suggestions showed me I do many of the right activities. When I start to feel overwhelmed, I need to forget the pileup and just do what I’ve scheduled.

Writers, are you so panicked you can’t find the panic button? Click to tweet.

What do you do to make your writing, platform, and life commitments mesh?

5 Steps to Save Days in Marketing Your Next Book

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” — William Penn

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

To save days marketing Book 2, you need to become a super-crazed, organized packrat for Book 1. If you failed to do these steps on Book 1, do them during Book 2.

by taliesin
by taliesin

Step 1 – Save

During the writing and publishing process for Book 1, save every email and link you come across with information and ideas about book marketing. Stick adhesive notes in magazine articles and books you read on marketing. Save marketing handouts from workshops.

by Ladyheart
by Ladyheart

Put the emails and links in an electronic mail folder. File the paper info in a big manila folder. Let it be a mess.


Step 2 – Suction

Four months before promoting Book 1, block off a day’s worth of time on your schedule. Gather the saved documents from Tip 1. Suction all the ideas from these materials and enter them into an electronic spreadsheet. Write good titles to sort on for each Project, such as Launch Party, Newsletter, and Book Signing 1.

 Step 3 – Assign

For each Project in your spreadsheet, assign a Project number and a tentative month to work on that item. As you work on the projects, insert rows for the tasks to be performed. Record the months you actually do each task. In cases such as Library Event 1, change it to Library Event Wythe County.

Suggested Columns: Month, Project Name, Task, Sub-task, Due Date, Work “Done”, Live Date, and Notes (for links and contact info.)

Example for Calculated Risk: 


Step 4 – Store

by Penywise
by Penywise

Purchase a 3-ring binder. I used a 3 ½-inch binder. For each Project-related document, write the project number in the upper right corner. Then file it by Project number in the binder. Here are some examples of Project documents.

Example: Project #23 Book Signing

  • “Tips for a Successful Book Signing” article from your messy marketing folder
  • Info about the particular store
  • Important emails between store contact and you (leave others in your electronic folder)
  • Questions for the initial meeting with store contact
  • Press release content
  • Ad specs

Step 5 – Evaluate

When Book 1 promotion winds down, note in your spreadsheet which Projects you would remove or change. You’ll probably have a few Projects you didn’t pursue that you might consider for Book 2.

Two timesaving resources to develop now for marketing your next book. Click to tweet.

Now you have two timesaving resources:

  • Your electronic spreadsheet contains all the marketing projects and tasks you performed. And possible ones for future books. You know when to schedule tasks. You can click on the saved links. You have email addresses and telephone numbers.
  • Your document binder is cross-referenced to your spreadsheet by project numbers. You have all the documents and forms you need to repeat the tasks for Book 2.

For example, the forms you completed to order bookmarks, business cards, and postcards have all the technical specs recorded. You already know what finish to choose.

In an upcoming post, I’ll share possible marketing ideas.

What time saver have you used in marketing your books?

Here’s a plug for a marketing idea my publisher is doing: 

For the entire season of Lent, all e-books in the Pelican Book Group store are free. Yes, free–all e-books in the catalogue–from 18 Feb to 2 April. Calculated Risk is included in this promotion.

Calculated Risk by Zoe M. McCarthy



4 Ways to Free Yourself from Procrastination in Your Creative Endeavors

“Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin.” –Victor Kiam


We don’t plan to procrastinate. We want to fulfill our obligations and move forward. But too often we don’t.

Let’s face it. Procrastination is a weird kind of selfishness, because it robs others and us of benefits and joy.

Fear is often the root of procrastination. What are we so afraid of?

  • Fear the work isn’t the right thing to do
  • Fear the work will be overwhelming
  • Fear we don’t know how to do the work right
  • Fear we’ll abandon the work

If these fears muck up our minds, we need to do something about what we allow in our thoughts. 

4 Ways to Free Yourself from Procrastination

mp900398793.jpg1. Prevention. Take a half hour and list:

  • what you like to do,
  • what you’re good at,
  • what you believe in,
  • what challenges you in a good way, and
  • what you’re called to do.

For help, see 4 Choices That Improve Your Perseverance. Let’s call this list your Character Manifesto. Be honest.

Remember, work ends up on our plates because we say yes to someone’s request or our eyes light up at some work that looks interesting, noble, or lucrative. So, stop before committing to anything and ask yourself: Does my Character Manifesto support this job? If it doesn’t, it’s likely not the right thing to do. So, say no thank you, or think and pray about it before committing.

You’re less likely to procrastinate on work associated with items on your Character Manifesto.

id-10055355.jpg2. Planning. Once you’ve committed to a wise number of right projects, you can prevent them from looming. Even if you dislike planning, you can jot down what projects are due in the next few months. And under each project, what tasks need to be accomplished. Then decide what tasks you need to get done next week.

I can’t stress this enough: assign a sufficient block of time for each task. You already know your most likely interruptions, so wisely plan that block of time around them. Then forget about all tasks except the one assigned for the current block of time.

You know all tasks have been assigned a block of your time, so you can relax and actually look forward to and enjoy your next task.

mp900442329.jpg3. Permission. Now that you’ve assigned sufficient time on your schedule for the right jobs, you need to address niggling thoughts you may fail at doing them right.

Train your thinking. Give yourself permission to ask for help when needed. That’s so smart. To view the task as an adventure. That’s so fun. To realize failure can be a great learning experience for the next attempt. That’s so freeing.

Who better to do the task than you: it fits your Character Manifesto, you’ll get needed help, and you’ll look forward to hindsight if your adventure turns out different than planned.

mp900401598.jpg4. Accountability. You’ve scheduled the right jobs and have given yourself permission to enjoy the work and accept the outcomes. Yet, you fear disappointing people if you get bogged down in other things and fail to finish projects.

Turn your fear into constructive action. Create or join an accountability group that has no investments in your projects.

Your accountability partners have little concern about the success of your projects. They expect you to complete what you determined were the right things to do. Your weekly reports to your group should show them you planned well and worked as planned.

Members can help you look at your pressures and problems more objectively and make suggestions to get you back on track. Plus, they’ll cheer you on.

Having accountability partners helps you to plan well and do what you planned to do.

What works for you to give procrastination the boot?