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Never enough Hours

“There’s never enough hours in the day”

We’ve all heard this expression and even fallen victim to its truth. How many of us have to-do lists that are a mile long and never seem to get finished? How many of us feel inadequate to handle what life necessitates and what life throws our way? Don’t we all envy those people that appear to have the ability to add extra hours to their day and accomplish everything they need/want to do?

One of the things I have had to juggle is my writing and day job as a college professor. I actually teach biology rather than any classes on English or writing. I am blessed that I found a career that I adore and that I am really good at. I have a passion for science and because of the need to explain my doctoral research to my family, I have the ability to (most of the time) to take a complicated process or idea and break it down ti it’s most basic and simplest parts. I have oodles of energy which is also necessary to keep that excitement going and to keep the students interested. Cuz let’s face it, there’s only so excited anyone’s going to get about photosynthesis…

When I started writing, I was still in graduate school. Working on the books was done in the evening and late into the night. Which didn’t leave much time for my husband and it took its toll on our marriage. All I wanted to do was delve into the imaginary world I was creating and research what I needed to do to get my book published. I spent so much time on the computer that I think I may have even merged with it for a short time and become one with my laptop.

When my first book was finished, the work didn’t end there. Oh no! It multiplied and grew into something monstrous and out of control. I’m not talking the formatting and editing and all that. Once those are done, they are done. I’m talking about the never ending thing called promoting and trying to build your author brand.

*heave big sigh*

There is so much out there about the proper way to do this that it will make your head spin. There’s a website, blog, Facebook profile page, Facebook fanpage, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, Reddit, LinkedIn, Amazon author page, Shelfari, the correct times a week to blog, what you should do for a website, should you self host said site, do you use Blogger or WordPress, combine website and blog into one, do you do separate Facebook fanpages for different books/series, building your audience to over 400 to use their promotions to reach more people, do you use different Twitter accounts for different books, should you use a pseudonym and do you now have to get Facebook and Twitter in THAT too, downloading things like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to streamline posting to multiple accounts, but is that too much and considered spamming, and speaking of to much, how much IS too much when it comes to posting about your book, how often to you let other authors do guest posts, do you need to add reading a bunch of books to your growing list so you can post reviews and interviews to your website/blog, do you pay for reviews from others and how much is too much to spend, do you enter contests and how much should you pay, do you need to be a member of a blog hop to get your book out there, should your blog be about writing only or writing and personal, oh, and then you might also need to look into a youtube channel, especially if you have a book trailer, finding out where your target audience hangs out, and by the way who IS your target audience…

*drowns in a sea of social networking and promoting*

And for many of us, we also have day jobs to add to the list, as well as families, kids (not me), other things we enjoy doing besides writing.

What are we to do? Frantically try to tick off all the things on our list and despair when we find that we can never accomplish that task?

I recently read this book that has nothing to do with writing or social networking at all and yet one nugget has changed my way of thinking about my growing to-do-list. The book is called The Resolution for Women and it’s about embracing what God has planned for us and what he has always had planned for us. It was an eye opening book but especially when I came to the part about the boxes.

The author asks the reader to ask God to help her prioritize our lives in the current season we’re in and to help rearrange our boxes of stuff. Some are brought to the front and some are pushed to the back. Here’s a quote from the book that opened my eyes:

“Balance is not when the boxes are equally filled but when we are free to fill only those that are important for now, without feeling guilt over the ones that we’ve left for another time and place. This is balance, little sister. Remember it.”

Talk about a powerful passage. I think too many of us try to fill all the boxes we can think of rather than taking the time to really think about what’s more important. And what’s more important at one particular time in your life won’t be the same things that you need to prioritize at some later date.

For me, my priorities have had to change. My writing is never going to be worth my marriage. Ever. Period. I’d rather never write another creative word again than let it come between my husband and I. Do I love to write? Of course! Do I love it enough to lose my husband? No way. I’ve had to decide what boxes I would move to the front and which I would shove to the back. My job teaching definitely has to be in the front. It pays the bills. Even if my books take off and begin selling enough to equal what I make teaching, I would probably continue to do it. I really do love to teach. So that box has to be filled which leaves not as much time for other things. Writing more books also needs to be in a box in the front. I have to finish the series I’ve started so I can work on some new stuff (and boy do I have some ideas brewing!!!) so the writing box has to be filled. My marriage box will be filled no matter where I am in my life and along with this box also comes church, counseling, and Bible study. Those will also always be filled no matter what season of life I’m in.

So with those boxes, I don’ t have much time for all the stuff the experts say I am supposed to be doing each and every day. I don’t have the boxes for spending X number of hours a day on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads forums, guest posts for others, blogging X number of times a week, reading for fun. Does this mean I am no longer going top be doing these? Gosh no! I am on Facebook and Twitter and try to keep up with the blogging. But I’m no longer going to allow someone else to dictate how much time I should be doing any of these things.

And I’m no longer going to feel guilty about not being able to do all of the stuff I should supposedly be doing to sell a bazillion copies of my books. Besides, when social networking becomes too much like work, it’s no longer fun. And isn’t that what it should be for? Having fun, meeting people, tweeting with someone, posting on a forum without having to always be mentioning your books, or trying too hard to connect with people so that you come off as being fake? I would rather tweet twice a day and never once post a link for my book or post on a forum that has nothing to do with books or like a few posts on Facebook than be on some timer someone else says is the “right” way to do things and that I should be spending X number of hours on various networking sites. It’s too exhausting and not rewarding in the least, at least for me.

If there’s one thing I learned in this journey of writing, it’s that there is NEVER one way to do things. Are the things mentioned above important for writers? Of course they are! Are they ALL important to EVERY writer? Nope. At least I don’t think so šŸ˜‰ Don’t do it all. Do some of it SMART!

If you need even more great advice about smart ways to utilize your precious time, check out this amazing book. There’s a lot in there but don’t let it overwhelm you! Read through it and find what works for you! It’s available through Amazon in paperback and e-book format.

What about you? Even if you’re not a writer, you’ve probably come to this point in your life when you have to make hard choices or drown. What have you done to re-gain sanity? I’d LOVE to hear from you!

7 Comments on “Never enough Hours”

  1. Steve October 8, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    Wow, Shay – great post. Very thought provoking, and it’s great to see you putting things in their rightful place and making time for what’s important. Good for you, keep it up!


  2. Janice Heck October 8, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Great post, Shay. I love the cartoon about social media. I have been struggling with all of it, too. *drowns in a sea of social networking and promoting* Been there, still there…
    (BTW, I received THE CHOSEN and it is my next read. Thanks.)

  3. Inion N. Mathair October 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    Love the post, Shay. It’s good to hear that someone else out there is struggling with all of it. Because there’s two of us working, you would think it makes it easier, but we’re still having difficulties with our social networking and finding time to pamper our manuscripts, and the many other obligations. We’ll find that groove soon… I hope.

  4. Ellen Gregory October 9, 2012 at 4:23 am #

    I’m no doubt not the only one reading this who has also been struggling with this all year — and longer. I hate it when social media ceases being fun – and that’s when I drop off for a few days. But it’s blogging which I find I don’t have as much time for as I’d like. I’m working really hard on prioritising the fiction (she says, as she trawls blogs instead of working on the WIP this evening…). It’s often the blog that gets neglected.

    And I distinctly remember calling for a time turner back in January šŸ™‚

    • shayfabbro October 9, 2012 at 7:41 am #

      Someone really needs to get busy on that time turner thing šŸ˜‰

  5. A.M. Donovan October 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Because we all remember what happened with cloning oneself (as in Multiplicity).

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