So much of the battle to become an established self-published author boils down to motivation. When I plan out my schedule, it looks like I can get in 10 to 15 hours a week to work on this business, but when reality knocks I’m exhausted, the kids want attention (and to be honest they should be getting more), and it seems impossible to work constantly without having some down time to read, watch a movie, or otherwise unwind.
Readers of this blog will know that I’ve waffled between getting up early or staying up late to get things done. Alarms don’t seem to work for me for longer than a one week period – no matter how much sleep I get it, even if it is 9 or 10 hours, I despise getting up in the morning. Conversely, if I stay up late my creative juices have run dry, extracted in the masticator that is my day job.
I’ve tried many ways to get around this conundrum. Since waking up to an alarm is so difficult, I have instead started setting an alarm to remind me to go to bed at a reasonable hour, and since my faculties are usually not as compromised in the evenings, this is easier to stick to. My latest is to set an alarm to remind myself to get ready for bed at 8:30 pm, and when I inevitably awake at night, if the clock says 4:30 or later, I get up. There’s a bit of science around this. If you wake up naturally, you are usually at the end of the sleep cycle, and thus even if you have had less sleep, you will be significantly less drowsy. This was how I managed to get up this morning. Let’s see how it goes.
I’ve also upped my game when it comes to cues, particularly after reading Heidi Grant Halverson’s book Succeed. I’ve made some very specific goals (related to my novel, healthy eating, exercise, and family), printed up some Don’t-Break-the-Chains, and have written some goal statements on the whiteboard that I pass every morning on my way to the shower:
“When my alarm sounds, I will finish whatever I am doing as quickly as possible and go to bed.”
“If I get up early, focus, and avoid distraction, I will develop my indie career and make steps toward being my own boss.”
Next week, I will once again request to go down to working 3 days a week at my day job, instead of 5. This will be the third year that I have reduced my workload in an effort to make this indie career work. In the first year, I continued to work 5 days a week, but got off a few hours earlier each day. That didn’t work out because no one else seemed to respect the fact that my workday ended earlier, and where I am management I don’t get paid overtime, so essentially I was working normal hours for less pay. I learned from this when the second year rolled around, and asked to work just 3 days week. This time I was sabotaged by my need to take on a teaching job that consumed the other 2 days more than I had anticipated. By the time that job ended I was burnt out, but did manage to put in about 25,000 words, so there’s that. This year I will again go for the 3 days a week, but unfortunately I do have another teaching job. I’ve taken the last 2 weeks off from my main job to try to do all of my lecture prep in advance so that the month of March isn’t a complete wash. Looking good so far, but only time will tell.